I am SO excited for today’s post, we are getting deeper with the lovely Laura Leigh Turner. In the words of Laura Leigh, she is a “Jesus chaser, a Musical Theatre nerd, and a Jazz music lover”. She’s also one of the newest cast members to Mean Girls on Broadway. She plays Karen, one of the iconic “plastics”, which is pretty ironic because Laura Leigh is one of the nicest people.
My path with Laura Leigh crossed when I became close with her sister, Abby, which you may be familiar with from her food blog, A Table Top Affair. We then got connected while I was working at DaySpring and she was modeling for us. She’s an Arkansas girl who recently moved to New York and truly has a heart of gold and a passion for empowering women and spreading God’s love.
Getting Deeper with Laura Leigh Turner
Tell us a little about you
Hi I’m Laura Leigh, a Jesus lover and performing artist! I was born and raised in North Little Rock Arkansas, I went to college in Oklahoma City at Oklahoma City University where I graduated with a degree in Musical Theatre, and I am now living in New York City to pursue a career as a performer. I am currently playing Karen in Mean Girls on Broadway- an absolute dream come true!
When did you become a Christian?
I became a Christian at a young age. I was 8 years old when I first acknowledged my brokenness, my sinful nature and my need for a Savior. I made the decision to ask Jesus into my heart and was baptized on Easter that year! My life was forever changed! Best decision ever. I am still so thankful to my family for sharing the best news with me, and for the Spirit for moving my heart to want to know Him more.
How has being in the performing arts impacted your faith?
The performing arts is such a special career path because we are essentially paid to tell stories, to move hearts, to educate people, and to bring people together. It’s like nothing else in the world! I thank God for giving me the gift of singing and performing and the immense joy it brings me and also that I get to bring other people through sharing it. God is such a storyteller himself, and I love learning about His character through other people’s lives and experiences. I also love to learn about storytelling through His Word and finding parallels between characters in the Bible and characters in today’s stories!
Like anything, it doesn’t come without a cost, a career in the performing arts is a lot of sacrifice and an unbelievable amount of hard work. I wish people could see behind the curtain and understand the expanse of the talent and dedication it takes to put on a Broadway show, or any show in general!
One thing it has taught me is discipline, and to keep working and growing even when you don’t feel like it. Discipline is valuable to our faith because we all know that not every day do we feel like trusting God, being vulnerable with Him, and taking the time to read His Word. It takes consistency, love, and devotion that is independent of how you feel. There are many days I don’t feel like doing a lot of things both in the discipline of singing, acting and dancing, and also in my walk with the Lord. I know deep down that it’s my job to steward the gifts He’s given me and to pursue HIm daily, so I do.
Can you share more about taking a leap of faith and moving to NY and how your beliefs have been impacted?
Moving to New York City was a dream come true! It definitely wasn’t all sunshines and rainbows though. Before Broadway, I went to open call auditions and did everything I could to show up and present my best self as often as I could. I did sign with agents upon moving to the city, so I had representation and help getting auditions, but I still had to put in the work. I worked part time as a babysitter for families I met at the church I started actively attending. It was a grind, but I can honestly say I loved it. Of course, there were days I was tired and wondering when it would happen for me, but I truly trusted that God had a plan.
I quickly found a church upon moving because I knew that my community would be my lifeline to survival in a city like New York. I had plans to church hop and to find which one I liked best, but I attended the church I went to the first weekend I moved and I haven’t stopped going back since. I found friends my age, moms to babysit for, a mentor, girls younger than me to disciple, and a really encouraging place to call home.
For those of you who are wondering what that looks like practically, it’s just showing up. I value my friendships and my people, so I try to make it a priority to make time for them and to invest in them! In the city it can be challenging to meet up with people, so it takes a heart willing to press into relationships and loving others. We all like different kinds of churches, and that’s ok- that’s why so many churches exist in the city! Start showing up, talking to people, looking for groups with people your age, and praying that the Lord brings you the people you need in your season of life. I promise he will provide in big ways for you! The local church is powerful when we invest and we jump all in!
I can’t even begin to imagine what’s it’s like auditioning and landing such an amazing role – do you struggle with comparison and if so, how do you remind yourself that you are fearfully and wonderfully made?
Oh for sure. Who doesn’t struggle with comparison, fear, and inadequacy? I think in the performing arts it’s such a battle because we, as performers, have to hear the word “no” a lot. More so than we hear the word “yes”. Faith is trusting in what you can’t see, so I try to lean in and listen to what He’s teaching me and where He’s guiding rather than trying to force my own plans into existence. I’ve tried to do that many times, and I learn the same lesson again and again- He has the best plan. Surrender has to happen daily, and actively reminding myself of His faithfulness and His promises that never fail. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.
I wish you guys could see the list of unanswered prayers that preceded the opportunity to be on Broadway. The dream I had for myself didn’t even come close to the beauty and the perfection of his plan and his timing. I am constantly thinking about how challenging it must be to walk through the uncertainty and the unknown of this career and to have to have faith in yourself to carry the weight. At the end of the day, I know God’s got me. The more I believe that as an artist, the more I surrender to control of the unknown to a known God.
So you had your big break and had 3 wonderful performances after many weeks of really hard work then Broadway was put on pause – what was your immediate reaction and has God showed you anything during this time of rest?
My immediate reaction was disbelief and then I felt more confused than anything. The Broadway dressing room I had just moved into, I had to go back to and move out all of the fresh flowers I had received! It happened so fast my flowers hadn’t even died yet LOL! It was a lot emotionally to process and I had just experienced the out-of-body experience of a Broadway debut on top of it all. Once I got home and prayed through it all, I had peace that God had us all where we were supposed to be at this time. I miss it for sure, and am excited to get back, but I am content knowing that God’s doing a work in this season.
What advice do you have for a twenty-something Christian in a new city pursuing their dreams?
Find your church home and your people, love on people, choose a part time job you know you can do well and work hard at it, show up to auditions, and see every moment in it all as an opportunity to know God more. If it’s changing a baby’s diaper, what’s he teaching you about the sacrifices your mom made for you? If it’s walking across town for groceries, what’s it teaching you about the privilege it is to be able to buy food? If it’s practicing for an audition, what do you learn about God through your ability to use your voice? He’s in the big moments just as much as the mundane.
Wow! I told you she’s amazing, right? I wish I had half of her wisdom when I was her age. Laura Leigh is truly a delight and she lights up my Instagram with joy. I highly encourage you to give her a follow and subscribe to her “love letter” for more encouragement.