If you were writing the story of John Iglesias, it might just be part Harry Potter and part The Apprentice.
The Harry Potter part of the story is pretty simple, he once lived for two months in the shoe closet of his sister’s apartment. The Apprentice part, and with all due apologies to Deb Harvey, can be seen in the fact that Iglesias will be taking on that very role for another powerfully creative individual.
Harvey, executive director of the Grand Theatre has taken on Iglesias as her very first apprentice. Harvey said she always resisted having an apprentice of her own until she took the time to speak with Iglesias and learn just how passionate he is about art, theatre, and the Grand itself.
“The why now is because of John actually. My background is teaching, I have done a lot of mentoring, I know exactly what it means to have an apprentice and how much work it is. So I resisted,” Harvey said. “I am doing this solely because it is John Iglesias. I appreciate him and his energy and passion and his curiosity. He has a positive attitude, a generosity of spirit that is sorely lacking.”
Harvey hasn’t known Iglesias for that long, but she may well have hit upon not only what makes her new apprentice so excited about his opportunity at the Grand, but also what has driven him to succeed no matter the venture was.
“So many people told me this would not happen. They said I didn’t go to theatre school, didn’t take business administration, didn’t take design, didn’t take this or that,” Iglesias said. “When she told me this was what she wanted to do, I said I had to take a moment. I knew I wanted to be here, but it was an emotional moment. I remember driving home thinking I really did it.”
After Iglesias moved back to London in 2002 he would move on to several jobs, including seven years selling cars at London Honda, before moving on to working in the finance department at Ford and starting up his production company — Iglesia Productions Inc. — in 2008. He even took up motorcycle racing before a crash led him to a moment of reflection on what it was that made him happy.
At that point, Iglesias quit his job at Ford, sold his house, most of his possessions, and used the proceeds to propel his vision for the future. That dream reached its pinnacle with the position at the Grand.
At least until May 31, 2013, Iglesias is shadowing everything Harvey does on a daily basis. That involves everything from sitting in on production meetings, marketing discussions, special events planning, essentially being part of the decisions Harvey makes on practically every aspect of the Grand’s operation.
In taking Iglesias on as her apprentice, Harvey said it was his “generosity of spirit” that sets him apart from others. Well, and the fact that he knows more than a little about how to sell too.
“That he already has experience in theatre, certainly in sales, he has done shows downstairs, six of them I think. He has sold out the McManus, we don’t sell out the McManus,” Harvey said. “So I would like him to sell out some of our shows down there too. That is something we are really focusing on.”
Iglesias said he is excited to be part of the Grand’s community focus. In fact, he said his new position at the Grand is actually an important opportunity for the city’s entire theatre community.
“It is a great opportunity for me, but it isn’t just about me. It isn’t Fort Knox where you can’t get in. You can get in. They are receptive to opening their arms to the community,” Iglesias said. “There are so many myths out there about what they do, but they are there for the community. There is a thriving theatre community outside the Grand Theatre. We have to stop with the animosity and just get together to create art.”
Harvey and Iglesias agree there is so much he can learn from his opportunity at the Grand. However, each said there are also things Iglesias can bring forward to teach even an organization as large and established as the Grand.
Harvey said she is looking forward to Iglesias sharing his ability to reach out to people and build personal connections and relationships with them — something that has served to make his own shows so successful.
For Iglesias, he is hoping to perhaps share some of his car sales experience with Harvey and everyone else at the Grand.
“I am not afraid of no. I had people say no to me for seven years. You have to learn to embrace no or you will fail miserably,” Iglesias said. “With me, I am not afraid to sell, I am not afraid to shake hands, I am not afraid to kiss babies. I am not afraid, if I need to, to sell ticket by ticket to get people to come to a show.”
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