Season 4
41 Minutes

E123 | Paula Ayotte | How A Marine Scientist Became A Pole Dancer

Paula Ayotte is a professional dancer, poler, actress, and model. After a career as a dancer in LA in her 20s, Paula left for Hawaii, studied microbiology, combined it with her passion for scuba diving and forged a new career in maritime research, often living on boats for months on end.

When Paula explored pole dancing as a hobby in her 50s, it turned out to be her ticket back to show business. In her late 50s Paula moved back to LA, performed in pole dancing competitions, found instant representation by commercial agents and, more importantly, immediately booked work as an actress, model, and dancer. Now in her early 60s, Paula is an avid pro-aging advocate.

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Paula Ayotte  00:00

I don’t think I ever had like a preconception of what my life was supposed to be like, Oh, you’re supposed to go to school get a really good paying job. You get married, you have kids, you have a really nice house. As you hit these certain milestones. This is what you should be doing. I don’t think I grew up with that. So when I went back to school at 40, and was in school, and I moved to Oahu, I mean, I was living in a four bedroom house with anywhere from four to eight people depending on who was coming and going. And it was just like a big college dorm.

Achim Nowak  00:37

Welcome to MY FOURTH ACT PODCAST. I’m your host, Achim Nowak and I have conversations with exceptional humans, who have created bold and unexpected lives. If you like what you hear, please subscribe on any major podcast platform, so you won’t miss a single one of my inspiring guests. And please consider posting an appreciative review. Let’s get started. I am so happy to welcome Paula Ayotte to the MY FOURTH ACT PODCAST. I can think of few guests who have lived more distinctly different acts than Paula. She was a professional dancer in LA in her 20s She left for Hawaii studied microbiology, combined it with our passion for scuba diving, and forged a new career in maritime research after living for months on boats. When Paula explored pole dancing as a hobby. It turned out to be her ticket back to showbusiness. in her mid 50s, she moved back to LA, performed in pole dancing competitions, found instant representation by agents, and more importantly, immediately booked work as an actress, model and dancer. Now in her early 60s, Paula is an avid pro aging advocate. I am so thrilled to meet you and speak with you, Paula. Hello. Hello,

Paula Ayotte  02:09

that was a lovely, lovely introduction.

Achim Nowak  02:13

It was fun for me to say it because I love guests who have lived in nonlinear lives. And gosh, do you fit that bill? And what I want to discuss is how does that kind of life happen. But I know that you grew up in Sacramento, and when you were growing up in Sacramento as a little girl and had to think about what you wanted to do with your life, what was in your thoughts.

Paula Ayotte  02:38

I don’t think I had much about it. I think growing up so I had three older brothers, my mom was from Japan, my dad was white, they met in Japan and moved here. But I never really had any pressure. Like a lot of my friends did to like go to school, oh, you’ve got to become a doctor, lawyer, nurse and engineer. And I never had any of that my parents had very little higher education. So I didn’t have that pressure on me, which was great in a way. But also I think I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I didn’t really think about it. I knew that I loved animals. I think that was a vague thought like, oh, maybe I want to go to Africa. I work with the wild, you know, lions and monkeys and all of those things. But I never had any type of dream that like, oh, I want to grow up and be a marine scientist. It was just I was kind of living my life. I never even thought about it. Until I was in college and then thinking like, Oh, I think I want to go to school and major in dance. But I didn’t grow up with a set idea of what I wanted to do, which I think gave me a lot of freedom. So it wasn’t that pressure on me. From either myself or my family.

Achim Nowak  03:53

I know a little bit about dance, I think of dance is very rigorous. It’s a very competitive profession. No matter how good you are. There’s always somebody else who’s just as good or possibly a little better. You’re in LA, you were a professional dancer in your 20s. But it requires training requires going to dance class that requires auditioning a lot. Can you give us a snapshot of maybe something that you go in hindsight? Wow, that was kind of cool.

Paula Ayotte  04:23

Oh, for sure. I mean, the fact that in my 20s I was in LA and I was training a lot which was actually my favorite part of the process was going to all the dance classes because I love them so much. The auditions and things maybe not so much. But I think nowadays a lot of auditions are online. Yeah. Especially for my age group. There’s not a lot of auditions in person. But back then I think of I was like oh I went to auditions and it was Debbie Allen was the choreographer. And that was pretty cool. Or I auditioned for I’m remembering like Dick Tracy and I think Warren Beatty was in In the room, and I got to take class with people that were like actresses or actors, and they were just in class training as well. So I look back and I go, that was pretty darn cool. My life was hard. But it was also the fact that I got to train every day doing what I loved. It’s just pretty amazing. Well,

Achim Nowak  05:19

I want to test this theory with you. I work as an actor for a while I wasn’t a great actor, but I got cast a lot. So I worked a lot. But I was one of those actors who enjoyed rehearsals more than the thrill of being on stage. Being on stage was almost a necessary evil, but I loved the creative process. Did you love actually getting the gig and performing whether it’s on stage or on camera?

Paula Ayotte  05:44

I did, I loved booking a job, because it meant I had money coming in. But and this makes me think one of the reasons I left dance I mean, a lot of these jobs were not artistically satisfying. To me, it might have been, you know, I was dancing on stage for an insurance company, we were doing a really hokey magic show. And so that part of it wasn’t as fulfilling as the training part. I was just thinking, when I performed in the poll show, it’s so hard. It’s so nerve racking, because you’re just waiting. And then you just have to be on stage, trying to stay warm. And all of a sudden, it’s like, oh, that person’s done. You’ve got to get on stage. And I’m like, I kind of like being in classes where it’s kind of set. You know, you’re warming up, you know what you’re doing. But I also especially for live shows, I love that interaction of being on stage and having an audience. But I also like being on camera, I’m not answering your question.

Achim Nowak  06:44

You are, well, I described you as a nonlinear person. Maybe they don’t know your life. And that was a fantastic nonlinear answers. So where to go. Talk about how you discovered your love of scuba diving, because that became an important bridge to a whole other part of your life. How did that show up?

Paula Ayotte  07:07

there that is I didn’t really I grew up in Sacramento. So I wasn’t that familiar with the ocean. I think the first time I actually got into the ocean, I was in Maui for a dance job. And I went snorkeling for the very first time in my life, I actually had to, I borrowed some snorkel gear for someone. And before I went out into the ocean, I practiced in the bathtub, because I didn’t know how to use a mask and snorkel. But I remember getting in the water. And I didn’t know what I was going to see. I thought it was just gonna be blurry and a mask. But it was so gorgeous. And it blew me away. Cut two years later, and I didn’t really think about it. I just thought, Oh, that was really cool. Then I was working a consulting job making some money. And at that time, I had bought my boyfriend at the time, scuba diving course, how to learn how to scuba, because I knew he wanted to do that I had no interest. But when it came time for him to get certified and do the class, I was like, Well, let me do it with him. I ended up falling in love with it. I just became and he was we dive together a couple of times, and then we broke up and that was over. But I became obsessed with it because it was the like coolest thing in the world to me. So I just kept doing it. Diving locally in California, and then also going on these like major dive trips. Yeah, I just loved it.

Achim Nowak  08:37

I remember my first time underwater and it is mind blowing. It truly is. So I know what you’re talking about. But not everybody does that and says well let me move to Hawaii and study microbiology. And I can combine these two passions, that decision to study something completely different. Something that to me, Akeem would be very hard to study, like how walk us through how you made that happen.

Paula Ayotte  09:06

It was very hard to study and I was really scared to go back to school. I had been doing my consulting job for almost 10 years. And it was a great job, great people, but I just, it just wasn’t interesting to me. And at that time, I had a roommate, but he moved out and moved in with his boyfriend. And I was just kind of left going like Well, we’ve lived together almost 13 years. And we had such a good relationship. I mean, we we still did, but I’m like I realized that I didn’t need to be in LA anymore. Like part of the reason I’m here is because I have a great living situation with one of my best friends, but I’m not dancing. My job is like okay, now I have to look for a new roommate and I just thought I love Hawaii. I’m going to move to Hawaii, but I have to have some kind of plan. So I would love to do something connected to that. Oceans. So why don’t I go back to school? Even though I suck at science and math, or so that’s what I had told my son. And I actually studied, I didn’t take microbiology classes because I was a biology minor. But I studied marine science, and studied all the, everything connected with that. I’m just decided to go back to school. Yeah, and move to Hawaii because I loved Hawaii.

Achim Nowak  10:24

But it all makes sense to me. And I love the phrase you used, like, I didn’t need to be in LA anymore. I not gonna tell the story. But there was a moment in my life where after 20 years in Manhattan, there was a distinct moment where I realized I don’t need to be in Manhattan anymore. And it’s powerful for us to have that moment. Because it, we give ourselves permission to invent something totally different. I’m curious, describe to us how that those studies led to what sounded to me like a perfect job, you know, where you got to combine a lot of interests, like how and you told me before that you were pretty, pretty driven to pursue the right kind of job to do the kind of work you ended up doing? Can you just

Paula Ayotte  11:08

how did that happen? I went back to school, I knew I wanted to do something in marine science, something to do with the ocean where I could hopefully, like be in ocean diving. And I knew that to get a good job, I needed to get a degree. And so was studying marine science at u h. Hilo, on the Big Island, which was kind of a small campus, I think their student body it’s like 3500 people, which for me, wasn’t very intimidating. But great Island is so gorgeous. It’s like it’s such a natural laboratory for everything. And I heard about a course there someone talking about where you could learn how to do underwater scuba diving, scientific techniques, like a two week course in the summer, and I thought and become a scientific diver. And I thought that sounds perfect. I want to do that. So I took that course I loved it. Because we were camping on the coast and doing underwater training every day. It’s amazing. So I thought, wow, I really love this. I want to do more of this. And now I’m a scientific diver. So now I can work at the University as a scientific diver on different research projects. I would hear about different projects, would hear about these projects. And some of my professors would ask me if I wanted to do them and some of the professor’s I told them I was going to work on their project. Because once I had been at school for a while, as an older student, I went from being terrified and really insecure to realizing, Oh, wow, I have a lot to offer. The professor’s loved me because I was interested. And I was there just wanting to work. So I ended up doing a bunch of different research projects, at school through different professors, some of them scuba diving, some of them sampling water, and I just thought this is glory. Someone that I worked with there, on one of her projects, had gotten on a research cruise to go out to sea in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, the remote island chain, the archipelago, north of Hawaii. Technically Papahanaumokuakea is the Hawaiian name. She got me on that research cruise, they needed people to serve a fish populations since I had some experience. They brought me on and I went on the ship. And I just fell in love with it because we were at these super remote islands that really no one else gets to go to and you jump in the water. And they would be like giant Jacks these like huge fish, there would be sharks, there would be manta rays, like a dream. I’m like, these are like the vacations that I used to spend a ton of money to go on. And now I get to do it. And I thought like this is what I want to do. As I was finishing school that was that’s what I had in mind is like, oh, I want to get a job with one of these agencies that does that. And so by the time I graduated, I have worked with one of these agencies. And so they knew who I was. I just kept an eye out for when they had research positions opening. And when I saw when I went for it. Before I even got hired after I graduated. I’ve moved from the Big Island of Hawaii to a wahoo because that’s where they were based. And I was like, I’m just going to move there and just hope that I get this job. And I did. Which was great. Yeah, it was like my dream job.

Achim Nowak  14:38

There’s so much about your story that speaks to me. I mean, in many ways you lived a lot of people’s dreams and fantasies. You’re in Hawaii dive. You get to do cool dives, and you get paid to do it. Like how awesome is that?

Paula Ayotte  14:52

Yeah, it’s awesome. I think what’s cool about me is that I don’t think I’ve ever had like a Preakness exception of what my life was supposed to be like, Oh, you’re supposed to go to school get a really good paying job. You get married, you have kids, you have a really nice house. As you hit these certain milestones, this is what you should be doing. I don’t think I grew up with that. When I went back to school at 40, and was in school, and I moved to Oahu, I mean, I was living in a four bedroom house with anywhere from four to eight people, depending on who was coming and going. And it was just like a big college dorm, almost, where it was sharing this space with all these mostly younger people. Not mostly all younger people. And I thought like, I don’t know how many people in my age group who would do that, who’s going to live in basically, there were some great parties, though, that we can definitely, but I would think that like, I don’t know how many people would live like that. Because that’s not I think that you might look and go it’s like, Oh, is that being successful? You’re driving this like junky car you’re living because marine scientists don’t make a lot of money and you’re living in that situation like a college kid and living pretty frugally because Hawaiians expensive. But for me, I that’s not even really a consideration for like, I don’t have that like, oh, but you’re supposed to you know, you were supposed to have kids and you were supposed to own a house. And it’s like, now I’m supposed to do stuff that I want to do that fulfill me personally. Speaking

Achim Nowak  16:30

of stuff that fulfills you. How did pole dancing show up in your life and what drew you to pole dancing as you were doing all of this other stuff?

Paula Ayotte  16:41

So there was in Hawaii Marine Science Marine in Hawaii is a marine scientist. But I also I felt like dancing was always a part of my life. I wasn’t training really anymore. The occasional Zumba class at the gym. Sometimes with my friends, we would go out dancing. Usually when we were traveling somewhere like Samoa or the Marianas like warm Sapin. There would be a club or not even a club, but we would all once we’d been out at sea, we’d go into port and we’d all party and dance. So I feel like it’s was in my life a little bit. But that’s more like fun dance. I’m not even sure why I started pole dance. I know part of it was I kind of was wanting to take some classes again, I think it was almost 50 at that point. But in Honolulu at that time, there weren’t really adult classes. I mean, there were ballet classes. But there were at that point, the only ones I could find were like with kids. I think I took a jazz class, I found a jazz class. And it was me and I think 613 year old girls. And so I felt like like dance classes weren’t available. And for some reason, I think I had a Groupon for like a free or super cheap pull dance class. And I thought, well, let me just try it. I liked the strength aspect of it because I work out a lot. And I thought that was cool. And I went and I took it. To me it was like, Oh, this actually has a lot of elements of dance. Yeah, there’s a strength aspect. And the cool thing I’m like, I can spin around this pole that’s like super cool. I feel like it’s kind of like diving, I just fell in love with it. Just kept going and training. I started off pretty slow just like once a week, and just kept doing it and that if that was just part of my life. It wasn’t until years later that I found some dance classes, but I just was pulling in. It’s such an incredible community. There’s I feel like there’s nothing like it like the support. The women there are some men but it’s especially in why at that point, it was just all women fit for a goddess. So it’s about embracing your goddess, but just like so supportive of all ages, all sizes, all ethnicities, just everything. So it’s just such a wonderful community to be a part of.

Achim Nowak  19:05

I understand that pole dancing also, in a way got you back to LA that were pulled dancing competitions, and rodeo here like it was a reconnection to dance but as a more mature person, how did taking the pole dancing classes in Honolulu? Get you eventually back to LA. We have time to hear the whole story. I know there are layers to

Paula Ayotte  19:30

it. Okay, good. Good. I’m looking at the time I’m like, get comfortable. Grab your coffee. No, I guess from that point, it’s not that long. So I’m, you know, I’m a marine scientist. I’m doing that thing but I’m also holding dancing. I ended up wanting to compete, because I had one of my dance mentors from the 80s passed away. There was a big memorial for him. There was a big memorial in Los Angeles and I came to it. There was a Ricardo Montalban theater and there were people dancing and tributes. And they had a dance number. And they invited a bunch of the veterans of the dancers who used to dance this person up on stage to dance with some of the younger kids. And I just remember getting on stage, it hit me that I wanted to perform again, when he passed away, I also felt very strongly, I was devastated because I hadn’t danced with him in years and years and years. And there were opportunities that I could have taken class with him. But I was afraid. I didn’t want to be this old lady in class with all these kids. But then when he passed, I thought, What a waste. What a waste. Because I let my fear stop me my fear of what I thought other people would think, from doing something that I love. And now he’s gone, I can never dance with him again. And I’m never gonna let that happen again, I want to start dancing again. And I want to perform, I want to be on stage. But then I thought, like, there’s no way like, I’m in my 50s. How am I ever going to get on stage? Like, I just didn’t see how that could happen as a dancer, as a performer. Do that. But I knew that there were pole dance competitions, they have to take you. I mean, you pay them a lot. They pay them. It’s like, they don’t say, oh, no, you’re not good enough. There’s all different levels, one through five, there’s all different age groups. There’s an age group for like, juniors, seniors, masters, and then grandmasters, and that’s a category I was in 50 and older, once again, just so inclusive. And so I decided I wanted to compete, and I started training with one of my friends in Hawaii. But then I also would come back to LA because there’s some great pool dance studios here. And there’s a woman that I really wanted to have, as my coach ended up coming back to LA and meeting with her for a few times to get some coaching for my competition. So I would go back and forth, not a lot, maybe 234 times to get coaching here, but also to take the classes in the pool classes in LA because they’re fantastic. The week of the competition, came back to LA I think was here for a week. So I wanted to be ready. Taking a pole class, the teacher said, hey, just you’re on Saturday. Here. You should come. And I said, That’s ridiculous. I haven’t auditioned in 30 years. She’s like, No, no, no, you should come. You should come. I thought, What the heck, I’m just gonna go I don’t have a picture. I have a resume. I don’t have anything. But let me let me go. She’s like, it’s for FK twigs. And I went, Oh, that’s that kind of cool, kind of indie singer. That British indie singer like, Yeah, I’ll go. It’ll just be fun. And I knew one of the girls from the poll studio was going to be giving out free massages. So I’m like, I’m gonna go get a free massage. I went to the audition. I took like, had somebody take my picture, had it printed up at some local print shop. And I went, and there were a bunch of girls that I knew like, and some incredible pole dancers. And they would bring us in, I think, three, two or three at a time and FK twigs. The artist was there. And I was like, Oh my gosh, this is the coolest thing ever. Because I didn’t think I was like, this is kind of silly for me to be here. Like, I don’t think I belong here. But what the heck, I’m going to do it. I wasn’t nervous at all. Then I could see the other girls were kind of like, what am I gonna do? And I was just like, Oh, my I walked in the room. And I was like, oh my god, like, this is so cool. This is so exciting. I was the biggest dork. We just improvised. They were like, Okay, you’re gonna go on the static polling and non spin poll, do whatever. And I know, she was kind of quirky. So I was being kind of quirky. And I was looking at her during the audition, and she was beaming back at me, ended up booking this job. It was going to Mexico City for two weeks. I had it. I didn’t even ask, I told my job. Like, I just need to let you know, I’m going to take two weeks off. I went back to LA and I’m going to two weeks off, I gotta go back to LA. And then I’m going to go to Mexico City. And then once the job is done, I’m going to need to fly directly from Mexico City to Guam, because we had a research group that was leaving from Guam, but I was like, I’m gonna make this happen because this is pretty exciting. And I ended up doing this job with fk twigs with some amazing pole dancers. And then she had a bunch of amazing dancers from LA. Doing and they were doing like contemporary jazz funk. There are people voguing it was this incredible gig. It was 4am shoe commercial. I can’t really say for who and it, unfortunately, which I was super bummed, it ended up never airing, because this was 2017. So I think for the shoe company, you know, pole dancers, they had like trans models they had, I think it was just a little too edgy for them at the time. Now, it would be perfect. But she was just so far ahead of her time. And I was bummed because I thought like, this is so incredible. Like, I’m part of this thing. I’m the oldest Bife bar. I remember, even the one of the wardrobe people from this company, it was like, we were so excited when we saw that you got this job, like we love that they hired an older woman. And so for me, I was really excited to be able to represent older women for like this huge brands, I was disappointed that it never happened. But I still have my hopes up to work for this brand. Because I see the stuff they’re doing now, kind of like what we did then. But anyway, to answer your question.

Achim Nowak  26:02

I love the details, because the juice is in the details. So thank you, I know that you ended up leaving Hawaii and moving to LA, we just know that you have this job. That was a job that in many ways you love how do you leave a job? That to many people is a dream job, I can’t believe it exists and you get to do it. You go to Guam, you get to do all this stuff. And and you made a choice? How were you able to make that choice?

Paula Ayotte  26:30

Yes, it was definitely my dream job able and I was able to go out to see, usually when we would go out on these research ships, it would be anywhere from three weeks to three months at a time. And you could have a choice like we’re going to be in, we’re going to do the equatorial Pacific for three months, you can go for a month, go for two months or three months. And I was like, I’m gonna go the whole time, like, let me get out there, because I love it. But as time went by, administrations changed, and there was less funding, there was less, there just wasn’t as much money to fund these research for science, we weren’t able to go as often. And the chips that we were on, we’re getting old. And by the last couple of years, we’re breaking quite a bit or that research cruises would be delayed because something would come up and they would need to fix the ships go from a three month crews to Oh, it’s only two and a half months to only two months. There was one of the crews I did it was supposed to be I think three or four weeks and ended up we actually went for like four days, it wasn’t as regular being out at sea, and it was very uncertain. And so it was like hurry up and wait, we might be leaving for three minutes tomorrow, we might not. And also for me physically it was getting, it’s kind of hard to be out at sea. For that long, I loved it. But you’re also sharing a little state room with either one other person or three other people just sleeping in a little bunk. And you’re working, I would get up at 530 or six in the morning to go out to the bow of the ship to stretch. Because it’s hard work like lifting all the tanks and all the heavy gear and then off the small boats that they would launch. And we’d be out on those boats anywhere from like five to six to eight hours a day in the sun, like diving. And then we come back, put every unload all of our heavy gear, take a shower, eat dinner, and then we go into the dry lab and we’d be entering data at our laptops for anywhere from one to three to four hours. So I was working from like 6am, sometimes to nine or 10pm. And physically, it was just getting a lot harder and things were really starting to hurt. Because at that point, I’m in my mid 50s. So I think just the lifting all of the heavy gear, being in the water doing these things like I was like, Oh, my arm is hurting every night. I don’t know quite why the doc was saying something. It’s about your brachial plexus nerve, and you’re older. It was it actually got to the point where it was extremely painful. Every night I would wake up in the middle of the night and be in excruciating pain. That kind of played a part into it. I still loved the work. But it was physically harder. And then as time went by to maximize funding, we were doing our dives, but it’s like, oh, but you guys also have to do water collection because we don’t have as many people anymore because we can’t afford to have full teams. So your team is also going to have to collect water. And you’re also going to have to take benthic photos. And now we’re doing it and there’s going to be this really heavy big camera gear that you’re gonna have to deal with. There was more work piled on. It was still fun, and it was still great work. But it was just physically becoming demanding, mentally demanding. It was there was less and less timed out at sea, it became a little less certain, but more or less regular.

Achim Nowak  30:06

I’m curious of what gave you the confidence to say I can go back to Los Angeles as performer in my mid 50s. And I can make a living here in the business that I left in my 20s and then re entering a different way. Because that takes a certain chutzpah, courage, whatever you want to say, Did you that?

Paula Ayotte  30:27

Yeah, I think I do I have, yes, no, I do think I have courage. I think I’m good at doing things that are scary. And I had in the times that I had gone back to LA to train and pull, I had also just started dabbling my dance toes, in classes there to actual dance classes, which was really scary. And so I just started dabbling. And when I found out like, oh, I can take a class, and everyone’s not going to turn around and point and laugh at me. I don’t know why. Like, I think dancers have that fear. Like, oh, I can come and take class. But I had also done some master classes, like special intensives, where they talk about, like, your career, like whether or not you know, if you want to pursue a career in dance would have that taken, I took a couple of these kind of just for fun, and then found out from so I would take these intensives. And they would bring in like agents and choreographers. And those people loved me. And they went, Oh, you could totally work as a dancer. There’s like plenty your age range that dance. And you could totally do it. And my mind just kind of exploded. And I went Wait, I can. And I don’t know why I just forgot. It’s like Paula, you worked with. You did a commercial for this recording artists like, yeah, you can work. And so I thought, I don’t even know, I was just like, I’m gonna go for it. Like I’ve done it before, you know, when I moved from LA to Hawaii, and I think something that really helped was because I didn’t have a family, I didn’t have kids. I didn’t own a house. I’d never made a whole lot of money in my life, like careers. But I grew up like learning how to be very frugal. So I knew that I could no matter what get by because I always have was very little money. I’ve always been able to not only save money, but live, or I guess not only live my life, but also save money. So I knew if I went back to LA I could do it, I guess, cheaply, not cheaply. How do I say it but I knew that no matter what, even if I fell on my face, I could still pick myself up and go. I don’t know, I just went for it. There was an incredible amount of fear associated with that. But I thought if I don’t do this, like why not do it? What do I have to lose? Understanding

Achim Nowak  32:56

is also you know, when you showed up, you had representation and you booked work pretty quickly. So if I want to use this cliche language, the universe was supporting you in what you were doing, right? I’m

Paula Ayotte  33:09

gonna say 1,000%. And I tell people that I took I’ve taken some huge leaps of faith in my life. And I think just that belief that like, I’m going to come here, I’m not going to have a safety net. I hadn’t even like saved up. I mean, I had money in retirement, I’d been saving my entire life. But I had no plans to touch that. But I didn’t have like immediate savings. And I just thought, I’m going to take this leap of faith because I know when I do that, the universe, God, whoever, whatever you believe in, takes care of you. And something you said earlier, kind of struck me You said you acted you weren’t very good, which I don’t know. I haven’t seen you act, but I know and I tell people this in this industry. And I kind of knew this back in the day, but even more so it’s like the talent does have something to do with it. Unlike but obsession, Audacity. Yeah. Trump’s talent. And I think I have that I’m like, I’m just gonna go for it. I know. I’m like, I’m definitely not as young as a lot of the other people going for at least the younger jobs, but I hustle. I haven’t seen him this competence. I do have this confidence. And that just comes from going for it and finding out that like, oh, I don’t have to be that talented. I just have to believe in myself. And also, I don’t take things personally, I go like I’m in an industry. It’s like where either you want what I got or you don’t. Or it’s like the job that I did going to Mexico City. I know that they weren’t thinking oh, we want an older pole dancer who has cool silver in her hair. But when they saw me they went that’s cool. So to me, I just go like, here I am. I’m auditioning or presenting myself. Here I am either. I’m going to show you the best that I have. At this very moment. Could be better. down the line, but right now, here it is, here I am. If that’s going to work with what you’re looking for, that’s great, if not cool. Like, I don’t take that personally, I’m just going to keep putting myself out there.

Achim Nowak  35:11

As you look to the future, I’m curious other. I’m not saying there has to be. But some people go, oh, there’s other things I would love to do that I’ve never done. I personally don’t have that. But many people do. Do you have like, things? You go, oh, that’s something else I would love to do with my life? Or are you let me go moment by moment as it unfolds? How do you think about the future?

Paula Ayotte  35:36

I don’t think a lot about I think now that I’m older, older, I am thinking about it now that I’m like, basically, retirement age, and I can actually start using some of my retirement money. So I don’t have that pressure. And I do want to keep dancing. Like when I came back to LA, I was here to dance. But then I found Oh, I can do commercial work. And now I’m taking acting classes like, oh, I want to act as well. So I do want to keep doing those things. But I’m thinking like, oh, but also like, oh, I would love to. That’d be cool. I just thought a couple of months ago, like, oh, I should learn. I should take the yoga course I could teach yoga. Yeah. And also, I’ve thought like, Oh, I’m gonna write a book. Yeah. I’d never thought of that. I would read your book. There you go. Everyone buy my book. I don’t know what it is yet. But I’m gonna write a book. And even though I’ve they’ve never thought like, well, I want to buy a house and do this a second. I’ve always loved horses, I’d love to have horses. Oh, I kind of go now that once I returned to dance, it became very important to me. I found my purpose, my purpose to inspire people. I want to keep doing that. And I don’t always have a sense of okay, well, I’m going to do it exactly by I’m going to dance with Beyonce. And that’s going to inspire people. Of course, I would love to dance with Beyonce. But I also find that I get jobs that I didn’t really think of, but there’s such a good way to inspire people. So I don’t always go, this is exactly what I want to do. It’s, I want to continue to inspire people. So the universe, God is going to bring me those jobs, or give me that ability to do it. And so I’m gonna follow that. It’s

Achim Nowak  37:21

totally clear to me, okay, cool, cool. My philosophy is not identical to yours. But I’m a firm believer that when I am clear on my mission, the universe always helps me get there. I’m a great believer, and, and I don’t have to figure it out intellectually. It just the clarity is within, and then the energy is there to support I mean, that’s how it’s worked in my life.

Paula Ayotte  37:43

Yes. And that for me, as I get older, I find that I have to show isn’t always easy, is that I have to let go of the control or the idea that I know what I need to do. Sometimes for me, it’s like to work harder, like to effort more, to the point where sometimes I trashed my body, like I shared with you earlier. In fact, I need to call, they call me yesterday to figure out when to set up surgery, I’m going to get partial knee replacement. And part of that, I think, because I’ve pushed so hard, and that really has shown me that like, okay, you don’t have to kill yourself to do this. Yes, it may be time I’m 61. And I do some pretty vigorous things. Yeah. But also, I’m really learning to trust myself more to go. Okay, what you’re doing is exactly right. You just have to keep following that path. It’s just sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by other things, or oh, I should be doing this. Or I should be doing that instead of just like trust that I’m doing the right thing. And the right thing for me isn’t always overworking kind of a fine line, because I do hustle. And I put a lot of work in which I think is necessary. But sometimes I think that’s a distraction to like work so hard that like now you’ve lost sight of what your actual purpose and goal might be. That is

Achim Nowak  39:11

such a beautiful message to end our conversation on. I first learned about you through a mutual acquaintance, Ruth Younker, who is he who in the early 70s went for a modeling career and is also booking work. You’re both inspirations. You have an amazing Instagram page. So I’m going to shamelessly ask you to plug it so people can actually see some videos and see the work you do and all that stuff. So how do we find you?

Paula Ayotte  39:41

Yes, right now most of my work is on Instagram. So just at Paula Ayotte, my name super easy no hyphens, no dots just add Paula AR I do need to keep up a little bit more on it might have to scroll back a little but it shows quite A bit of the pole dancing that I do the dancing that I do some of the work I’ve done a little bit of cooking stuff. I’m trying to get more of a tick tock presence as well. That was my goal this year to become a tick tock influencer,

Achim Nowak  40:15

you have tick tock, how do we find you on tick tock? On tick tock? Oh,

Paula Ayotte  40:20

it’s the exact same thing. It’s at pala AI. So and that’s slightly different. Because I think I think it’s important for me to reach people to be seen, because if I want to inspire people, I want to inspire the most people possible. So if I have a big following, and people see what I do, hopefully, they’ll say hopefully they can be inspired. I know that ad inspired people and hoping to reach a different audience on Tik Tok.

Achim Nowak  40:44

Thank you, Paula, our urge all of our listeners to take a look. I was inspired throughout the entire conversation we just had. So thank you. And we’ll talk again soon, I hope. Bye. Bye.

Paula Ayotte  40:57

All right, thank you so much, such a joy.

Achim Nowak  41:03

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the mindful of X podcast. If you like what you have heard, please like us and leave a review on your preferred podcast platforms. And if you would like to engage more deeply in fourth act conversations, check out the mastermind page at Achim It’s what fourth actors like you engage in riveting conversation with other fourth actors? See you there. And bye for now.


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