I can be just as happy in the kitchen as I am onstage!”

Corbin Bleu T/06
Many seek the lime light and glamour of being a professional singer or actor.  The lifestyle is certainly glorified in the news, tabloids, and gossip magazines.  Fellow LACHSA alumnus, Corbin Bleu (High School Musical series, Dancing With the Stars, Galaxy Quest, Psych) has done extremely well for himself both on screen and on stage, both on camera and off.  But what prompted this star to take his talents to the highest heights?  Like most inspiration, it came at a very young age.

“I grew up in Brooklyn, NY going to see theatre from childhood. The first Broadway show I ever saw was Phantom of The Opera with Davis Gaines when I was 5 years old and I remember it well! Both of my parents are from the entertainment industry so I was literally raised in it. I started dance classes at 2 as well as working as a Ford model and in commercials. And I had my first taste of being on the stage at 6 in the Off-Broadway show Tiny Tim Is Dead.”

Corbin is fortunate that his profession enjoys the benefits of millions of adoring eyes, deafening screams, and overwhelming applause.  You would think this would be one of the most satisfying parts of being publicly recognized for your talents but Corbin gives us a different take on what he finds most satisfying about his career.

Jeremy Jackson Photographer

"I think self-satisfaction is the most gratifying aspect of anything. As performers we yearn for the applause, but if you're not satisfied with yourself that applause holds little value. I think I'm happiest when I know I worked hard on something, I'm proud of the result, and then come to find my work had its intended effect on people."

It's hard to imagine any downside to doing what you love and living your dream career. Some people could be deluded into only seeing through rose-colored glasses. But Corbin paints a clear picture of his profession's challenges.

"Despite the misconstrued view of it by many, this profession is not an easy one. The glamour that most people see depicted in the media is an overblown performance in itself. It is a lot of hard work and training, that doesn't guarantee a job, and the final result's success is based on a subjective view. It is one of the most politics packed professions. Knowing how to navigate it is a skill in itself. But if one can continue to grow and transform, look at it as a marathon, not a sprint, and not buy into the Hollywood BS that's so easy to get sucked into when working so close to it, it's possible to have a successful career with longevity and integrity."

Beyond his blockbuster hits, Corbin has made a lasting impression on LACHSA that extends far beyond his talents.  Anyone who knows him or has ever met him has felt an ethereal presence of warmth, humility, kindness, and authenticity.  It seems a stranger could speak to him as easily as his best friend.  Thus, it is no surprise that he was asked to be the commencement speaker for LACHSA’s 2015 Commencement ceremony. His response to that request? An emphatic “Hells Yes!”

On Wednesday, June 10th at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, under industrial lights and the gaze of thousands, Corbin delivered a commencement speech that was genuine, heartfelt, and moved everyone in the audience.  The hall was filled with graduates, their families and friends, as well as the LACHSA Faculty and staff and none were immune to his eloquence of speech or his genuine heart.  Corbin says he was“honored to be a part of the 2015 graduation.” 

“I was class of 2006 so I have had 9 years to explore and apply what LACHSA has taught me. I was just happy to be able to give back and show the students that their pursuits are possible with the tools they have received! It is also always a treat to see the faculty and those who taught me!”

Speaking of those who taught him, Corbin was asked an innocent question of “Who was your favorite teacher at LACHSA?”  He responded with a sly “C'mon now, don't make me choose sides ;)”  Heartfelt and genuine, certainly not a political or evasive move, he could not choose just one person.  Most alumni can understand how there is often several teachers who, in their own way, go above and beyond to see LACSHA students succeed.

Jeremy Jackson Photographer

Though success is evident in Corbin’s career, he has other interests as well.  When he’s not performing, one of his favorite past times is cooking.  I can be just as happy in the kitchen as I am onstage! It's still a way to be creative and self-satisfaction comes into play again. I find it so rewarding and that food just tastes better when my heart went into it. Plus I'm Italian-Jamaican and was culturally raised with food as a major pillar of life and happiness.

Other passions of Corbin’s include caring for and inspiring kids.  The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Starlight Children's Foundation, and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital are just a few organizations to which he gives his time and energy.  “At one point in my life I was seriously considering becoming a pediatrician. I had the grades for it and I love helping kids. In the end I came to the conclusion that the performing arts was my desired path and I still involve myself with helping youth… I [also] love doing outreach programs teaching youth about the arts.”

During his time at the LACHSA, Corbin gained many tools that he’s taken into his career and personal life.  Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that stick, something as simple as breath.  “We were discussing entering onto the stage, and how so many people will take in a deep breath, exhale, and then enter stage. Well now there is no oxygen in the system to use. Inhale then exhale if you must to release whatever negative you're holding onto, but then inhale again and begin. We as human beings can't live without air. When you remain conscious of your breathing, and are sure to always act on anything with a support of air, you maintain calmness and power.”

One of the best lessons Corbin says he has learned from LACHSA involves resilience, openness, and trusting in oneself.  “I have come to know very well that nothing is as expected, and that's one of the best parts of life. It would be boring otherwise. It's when life throws us a curve ball, or says a different line than we were expecting, that we get the opportunity to either fail or roll with it and prevail with something even better than we initially were expecting from ourselves. And when we fail (it's just a part of life) we adapt and learn how to be better for the next time.”

It’s clear that Corbin’s values in addition to his talents perpetuate his success.  And while success is admirable in itself, it’s the fact that those who knew him years ago repeatedly request his presence that shows the ultimate beauty of Corbin’s character.  He gives back to others by “helping, inspiring, and setting the next generations on the right path.”  He gives back to himself by being open to life’s lessons.  Whether performing, cooking, or running into other alumni on set or at auditions, Corbin vows to be a student of life. In his words, “I plan to be learning till the day I die.”