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Being A Self-Starter in NYC: An Interview with Abby DePhillips

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MMM chapter.

Producer, social media star, beauty mogul, theatre-lover, and doughnut enthusiast. Abby DePhillips’ kindness towards others and unique talent for show business have launched her career, with no end in sight. Her story is an inspiration to anyone who is looking to start a new life in New York City. As a young girl, DePhillips’ mother introduced her to the theatre world. After her early start running around backstage, she knew, she says, that she wanted to be in that environment for the rest of her life. Now 22 years old, DePhillips is living out her dreams in NYC!

Whether you’re a student, an aspiring actor, job seeker, or simply want a new beginning, moving to New York City is a life-altering process. For DePhillips, the decision to move was an easy one. “I feel like my whole life I was counting down the days until I could move to New York. I didn’t even consider going to any college that wasn’t in Manhattan.”

Everyone has one moment in their life when everything just clicks. For DePhillips, this sudden epiphany came in high school.

“I always felt pretty driven, but I had a cliche theater heartbreak in high school and I remember thinking, “I’m going to make something of myself and this is going to be the moment in my story before things get really good.” I wanted to be able to use that moment that crushed me at the time as a tool to encourage young people that might go through that too. So I promised myself I’d get to a place where that could be encouraging for people. I was striving for that moment of “I went through it, now look what I get to do!” There’s a lyric in The Heart of Rock and Roll, “When I’m through I’ll be someone who everyone can all look up to. And with some luck I know I’ll be a better man, doing all he can for the whole wide world to see.” I heard it at the show the other night, and it just reminded me so much of what I always wanted and what I still strive for. Struggles make you strong.”

Throughout DePhillips’ life, she faced many challenges but has now finally found her place in NYC. She talks about her time in high school, “I battled depression. For me, overcoming it meant therapy and medication. It also meant reminding myself every day that things will always get better. Sometimes they get worse before they get better, but they’ll always get better.” She adds, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

DePhillips’ struggles in school did not hinder her from chasing her dream of living in New York. She says, “I wasn’t a great student because my mind was always elsewhere. I remember writing a book to a Taylor Swift jukebox musical in my notebook during a science class in high school. I was truly never paying attention, which is a bad example and something I do not suggest! But funny enough, this morning my sister texted me that that same science teacher was asking what I was up to and said I was the perfect example of school not being for everyone.”

The bliss of creating theatre magic can also come with the ultimate responsibility; being a role model. She acknowledges the responsibility of now being in the public eye, “Knowing there are young people who want to do what I’m doing, being a good role model is my biggest priority. That was true when I didn’t want to drink in high school because I wanted my little sisters to see that example, it was true when I was Miss TEEN United States and I suddenly was meeting little girls wanting to be in my position, and it’s something I’ll never stop carrying. It doesn’t feel like a weight or unwanted pressure, it’s a position I’m so proud to be in and it motivates me every day.”

While DePhillips is a huge inspiration to many, her biggest inspiration after moving to the city was Bandstand actress Laura Osnes. She says, “Laura Osnes was such a guiding light for me. She was so supportive and opened my eyes to so many opportunities and was so helpful and so amazing. I’m so grateful I had her by my side while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do.” When moving to a new city, it is so important to feel supported by friends. DePhillips found this encouragement in Osnes. Being invited to work on the acclaimed Broadway Princess Party (created by Laura Osnes and Benjamin Rauhala) was, DePhillips says, a dream come true. “I loved the first show. It was so special, and I don’t think anyone anticipated the magic that night, and Zac Levi singing “I See the Light” at soundcheck when he joined us. That was pretty crazy magical.” (Check out this magical moment here)

    Growing up, DePhillips always dreamed of performing. Yet, it was during the Broadway Princess Party that she realized she wanted to work behind the scenes. She says, “It hit me during the first Broadway Princess Party. There was no more desire to be onstage. All I wanted to do was continue being a small part of creating the magic that I loved to watch.”

This desire to create magic led DePhillips to become the co-creator (along with Kimberly Jenna Simon) of Pronoun Showdown; a concert series in which songs are performed with the pronouns switched. This creates a hilarious new take on many famous Broadway and Pop songs! The first 54 Below show featured stars such as Derek Klena (Anastasia), Ali Ewoldt (Phantom of the Opera), and Adam Kaplan (A Bronx Tale). DePhillips recounts the first show, “that first Pronoun Showdown was pretty incredible. I’ll never forget Kim and I standing at the sound booth watching that oversold house laughing and we realized we made something pretty special. So much stress and low ticket sales, and wondering if we were marketing it well; and then to result in the most successful night we could’ve ever imagined. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment.”

Be sure to check out the next show on December 2nd! [tickets are available at https://54below.com/events/pronoun-showdown-4/]


    This month will be DePhillips’ four year anniversary in New York. She has made this huge city her home, and her relationship with NYC is a unique love story. She says, “You know that moment in movies where the character sees Times Square for the first time and it’s such a dream-come-true moment? That’s how I feel every single day, which sounds dramatic but I’m still so smitten by this city. It’s the most magical place in the world and I will never take living here for granted. I love everything about New York.”

     Be sure to follow her journey and check her out on social media! Personally, I cannot wait to see what she does next.


Follow Abby’s journey!



    Pronoun Showdown






Rebekah Moses is currently a sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College, after moving to NYC from her hometown of Farmington, CT. She is a Theatre Arts Producing and Management major, with a Comm Arts minor!