Angela Parrish, who sings the opening song in the Oscar-nominated film ‘La La Land,’ attended the University of Northern Colorado
February 22, 2017
When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: It will air on ABC or online at abc.com or the ABC app.
You can watch the Oscars at the Kress Cinema & Lounge Oscar party too.
Where: 817 8th Ave.
When: The event starts at 5:30 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $25 per ticket, includes punch, hors d’ouvres and a voting ballot.
Black tie attire is encouraged.
For more information, go to http://bit.ly/2m54pVW
Host: Jimmy Kimmel
For more information on Angela Parrish, go to http://www.angelaparrish.com.
When Angela Parrish got to Los Angeles, she knew she wouldn't have enough money to eat if she tried to rent a room and pay for gas.
She decided to live in her car while she figured out how to survive.
It paid off. She got to sing the first song in the film "La La Land," the most-nominated film of this year's award season, including nabbing a Best Picture nod at this weekend's Oscars.
She'd left her home in Kansas behind to give her dreams a shot. She wanted to perform in a major city and see where music could take her. She believed if she worked hard enough and wanted it bad enough, something would have to give.
“This could be the last big thing I ever do, but it’s nice to have this.” Angela Parrish
She learned that, she said, during her time at the University of Northern Colorado.
She was 26 in 2012 when she rolled into LA. She lived out of her car for three months. She'd crash on friends' couches sometimes.
She scraped by teaching piano lessons and even worked at a call center for a while. She didn't tell any of her coworkers she was living out of her car until after she managed to secure an apartment. For three years, she worked seven days per week to stay afloat.
"Living in my car wasn't as hard as worrying about keeping my apartment once I got it, " Parrish said. "The toughest thing about surviving is the first year."
It was thrilling, she said, to be without a safety net. She liked figuring out how to build a life from the ground up.
Much of her story mirrored the characters in "La La Land."
She played at supper clubs to make rent, like Ryan Gosling's character, Sebastian. She heard countless rejections too, like Emma Stone's character, Mia.
She continued to teach piano lessons. At one point, she had 60 piano and voice students. She wrote and recorded her own music in the meantime, too. She hoped to score a recording contract.
Last winter, a friend of hers told her about the vocal auditions for "La La Land."
When she auditioned for the part in the movie, she was nervous. When they called her back to do a final vocal audition, she swelled with pride.
When they chose her to sing "Another Day in the Sun," she knew the struggle had been worth it.
Knowing how well the film has done and how many people have enjoyed it only makes it better.
"I feel like I got to be a part of history," Parrish said.
Despite her success in the film, she knows nothing is guaranteed. She still works hard everyday on her music. She's working on a new record, a full-length album. She has an EP out already, and she'll release a single soon. Her music is available on iTunes, Spotify and BandCamp.
She attributes much of her success to UNC, from where she graduated with her master's degree in 2012. She even went as far to say her time the university was directly responsible for her ending up in LA. The jazz program and her professors helped set her up for success, she said.
The school brought in guest artists she could learn from and network with. She made friends and honed her craft.
"(UNC) continues to be on my side and a cheerleader for me in a powerful way," Parrish said. "When I went there, I felt like I had a place where I truly belonged. That emotional and musical growth made me who I am as a performer professionally."
She comes back to UNC every now and then, like in October when she hosted a free clinic on her lifestyle as a songwriter, the business of songwriting and music. She performed at the Moxi Theater then, too.
She encourages students to take advantage of every opportunity the school provides, even if it means driving a guest speaker to the airport. Small acts can lay the foundation for a career, she said. She also advised people not to put a time limit on their dreams. To make it, people have to be all in, she said.
"This could be the last big thing I ever do, but it's nice to have this," Parrish said.