How Amber Owens Made Her Broadway Dream Job a Reality
Ask Amber Owens, the Broadway star currently cast in Aladdin, what the key was to her theater career, and she points to getting an early start.
A Girl Scout alum, Amber grew up in Orange County, California, spending every summer in high school interning at the Broadway at Music Circus, a San Francisco–based musical theater company.
“My parents took me to my first audition because they were big on the idea of me having new experiences,” she recalls. “I look back on that summer as the moment I learned that people [could] do this for a living.”
As an undergrad at Northwestern University, Amber joined the dance team and performed in on-campus productions, but she believed she’d ultimately go to law school.
Yet each summer she kept returning to her beloved theater company, and as graduation approached, she realized she wasn’t ready for law school.
On a whim, she auditioned for the national tour of the first revival of 42nd Street.
“It wasn’t a lifelong dream to be in a touring production, but I knew I had to bring my best self to the audition,” she says. “When I got the job, I knew it was because I gave it my all.”
Her mantra to put 100 percent into everything she does has guided Amber ever since, including through performances in Mary Poppins on Broadway, in Spamalot in Las Vegas, and as a Radio City Rockette.
When a role in Aladdin on Broadway opened up in 2013, she was hopeful but, initially, didn’t get cast.
“I was heartbroken,” she says. “I had loved the music forever. I leaned into that heartbreak a little longer than I would have wanted to, but I had to let myself be disappointed.”
“Disappointment is part of the business,” she explains, “and I knew there was still stuff out there for me.”
After taking a little time off, Amber returned to auditioning and performed as a Rockette in a touring show.
“This felt like a step backwards, because there were so many new faces and I was a number of years older than the last time I had done the show,” she says. “When I wondered what I was there to learn, I realized that maybe I was there to be a mature presence for the younger women in the cast.”
In 2014, she got a call from Aladdin’s casting director inviting her to take the role of a main performer going on maternity leave.
“I was so excited,” she recounts. “I felt like I had learned this important lesson about perseverance.”
Finding herself equally busy in her personal and professional life, Amber planned her wedding for right after her contract with Aladdin was up.
“Here I was saying goodbye, and then something incredible happened,” she says. “Just 36 hours after my wedding, I got a call that the woman I had replaced decided to leave the show. They wanted to know if I could come back permanently.”
That was five years ago, and since then, Amber (who is now 39) has maintained an intense schedule— she performs in eight shows a week.
“I’ve gotten into a rhythm,” she explains. “I know what I need to do to warm up for the show and to execute it at 100 percent. I’m blessed that I haven’t had any major injuries.”
No matter what’s next in her career, Amber says that she always throws her entire self into every audition.
“It’s important to me that I walk away feeling like I did my best,” she says. “It’s a simple idea but not easy to do.”