“Despite what the beauty industry and patriarchy might tell you, you are worthy, you are enough, and you are allowed to celebrate great things about yourself.”
These are the words Jillian Paige encourages us all to hear.
Though she has always been an advocate of positive thinking, it wasn’t until devastation hit a little too close to home that her belief in those principles was tried.
“It wasn’t until 2014 when my then-boyfriend, now late-husband Michael was diagnosed with cancer that my belief in these principles were put to the test. I wouldn’t go through that experience again for anything, but I also wouldn’t give it up for anything.”
The loss of her husband, though devastating has taught Jillian the importance of experiencing life moment to moment. She has continued to use this method as an outline for healing and the continuance of pursuing her dreams.
“Just put one foot in front of the other. Do not think big picture because the pain of that can be overwhelming. When I’d think about my entire life without Michael, I couldn’t breathe. When I thought about what I’d eat for dinner that night, I could manage. Time will pass and healing (although with scars) comes with it.”
Born into a house surrounded by music; a father playing piccolo for the Louisville Orchestra, and teaching flute lessons, and a mother practicing piano, may have been the early starts of Jillian’s love for music and theatre. “I was setting up plays at home with my little sister since I could speak. Storytelling has always been my favorite way to learn and connect.”
As she has grown and experienced the ups and downs of acting, she explains that she has found no other path that compares. “In the arts world, they say if you can do anything else for a career, do it. I can’t do anything with as much joy and love as I do acting.”
In describing a favorite role, Jane from the musical Tarzan, Jillian states, “Jane is such a fearless adventurer, fierce independent, and open-hearted love to her father and Tarzan. I learned a lot from what I thought was going to be a fluffy role.” In that description, I can’t help but note those same qualities in Jillian.
Further exhibiting these characteristics, Jillian doesn’t stop at only acting, but is also a Certified Personal Trainer.
“The beauty of personal training is the flexibility. I get to bop around the city, have the freedom to go to auditions, and clients are thrilled for me when I book something.” She credits one of her best gal pals, singer/songwriter Hailey Whitters as an inspiration in leading her down the road to a healthy lifestyle. “I grew up totally unathletic and a theatre nerd. When Hailey Whitters and I began rooming together freshman year of college, I went ham on those cafeteria buffets. Pizza and sweets are my kryptonite. I started seeing negative changes in my body and going to group fitness classes with Hailey. I adored the parallels I saw in working out and rehearsing music: you show up daily to practice, you get stronger. I was hooked.”
That formed relationship has remained strong today, as Jillian states Hailey as one of the women she is most inspired by, “a steadfast force of loyalty, vulnerability, and compassionate understanding in my life.”
Whitters is not the only women she counts influential. Professionally she has had the opportunity to work with a great number of amazing women. “The women I have had the opportunity of taking voice with; Kristi Whitten, Edith Davis Tidewell, and Nancy Allen have all helped shape my voice and career savvy immensely.” However, it is her current voice teacher, Marisa Michelson that she credits for bringing her back to her soulful roots. “She has re-introduced the idea to me that we’re all born singing and that it’s the closest form of human expression to crying and laughing that we have. Singing is an outburst of emotion and sometimes in learning the technical aspects of it, singers lose that. Marisa has helped me blossom in my love of music despite the beat-downs of New York auditioning.”
With such a demanding schedule, what keeps Jillian motivated?
“I keep it to one word, ‘Arete’ is a greek word meaning excellence. But not just excellence in general, excellence in every moment. Arete means that you choose to give your best moment to moment. The beauty of it is that your best varies constantly – how freeing is that?”
In speaking with Jillian, that Arete style of living, and positivity radiate from her.
“Positivity and let’s face it, a little bit of denial helped me through the cancer journey with Michael. Humans use whatever mechanisms they need to get through the toughest trials of life. Do I wish I had embraced more realism so that I wasn’t blinded by my husband’s death? Sure. But did we live with a little more happiness his last few weeks because we were pretending like death wasn’t approaching? Absolutely. I use positive thinking with a dose of reality now because I learned from that, but I think I needed it at the time.”
Though in a brief description of herself she claims, “I am now a cat lady who sings and has a love of spirituality and self-improvement books,” Jillian Paige is so much more.
I see a “she who dares” woman who shines brightly, and helps others do the same!
Keep sparkling sister, I’m cheering for you!
Keep up with Jillian: JillianPaige.com
A quick workout suggestion: Tabata – (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 8 rounds) Legs: one full tabata roud each of squat jumps, walking lunges, alternating jump lunges, and reverse lunges.
A quick snack suggestion: Lara bar and a pear. “You want to pair two macro-nutrients together (like the bars fat and fruits carb) to get a filling, energy giving snack on the go!”
Top picks on Jillian’s workout playlist: Lizzo, Jess Glynne, Charli XCS, and Kehlani.