“Without a nickel to my name,
Hopped a bus, here I came
Could be brave or just insane
We’ll have to see...”
As part of the opening song of the new hit movie La La Land, these words perfectly describe the life of its singer, native Newtonian, Angela Parrish.
Born and raised in Newton, Angela remembers the simple charms of her home town: the beauty of a wheat field at sunset, the rich history of its buildings, and her favorite Druber’s donuts. It’s here that Angela first began to dream about what could be.
At Newton High, fifteen-year-old Angela played the piano in the jazz band. Her teacher and mentor, Keith Woolery, challenged her and helped her grow both as a musician and as a person. He helped her take first steps toward seeing her dreams of being a musician come true. Having fallen in love with the arts, Angela set her sights on Los Angeles.
After college and a brief stint working as a receptionist here in Newton, Angela set off for the big city. With only a loaf of bread under one arm and a jar of Jif under the other, she left home to pursue her passion. Working many small jobs and sleeping on a friends’ couch (or in her car!) she experienced many unique escapades along the way. Like the song says, “And even when the answer’s no, or when the money’s running low, the disc and mic and neon glow are all I need.” Angela chased after her ambitions even in the toughest of times.
Her big break came through a friend-of-a-friend turn of events that gave her the opportunity to audition for the solo part in the opening song for La La Land. Two weeks later, she was in the studio recording. By pursuing her dreams through even the most challenging of times, Angela had the opportunity to play an integral part in what has become a very popular movie. “My main goal as a creator is to make great art that a lot of people enjoy, and this has made me feel like I'm living my purpose,” she says of the experience.
Angela is currently working on a new album while pursuing more opportunities in film and TV. As she does so, the girl from a small town in Kansas is living her dream. Angela says she is proud to come from a town full of people who will go out of their way to help people, and she hopes that she can help and encourage other Newtonians to pursue their dreams too: “Their reservations are most likely the only thing holding them back. Do big stuff. Do scary stuff.”
“And some day as I sing this song
A small-town kid will come along
That’ll be the thing to push him on...”
Momentum is building and anticipation is growing to see more of Newton Reborn. Join the movement as we work together to see key pieces of our city revived, rebuilt and renewed. We see a renewed Fox Theatre as a catalyst for this Newton Reborn movement, fueling more life and growth in the heart of our downtown. Opportunities to participate directly are coming soon! Invite your friends and family along for the ride by sharing this and future Made in Newton stories with them.