Since competing on The X Factor in 2013, musician, actor and model Barry Conrad has taken his career to another level. After playing Flick in the musical Violet, Conrad is stepping into the shoes of the beloved character Seaweed, in the Brisbane production of Hairspray. Jessica Morris caught up with the multi-faceted performer to chat about his rise to success and motivation in life.
You were part of the top 12 on The X Factor. How has life changed for you since then?
I’d been in the industry in some way for a little while, but the show gave me a platform and an opportunity I never quite had before. It’s amazing, because I get to do what I love as a job, which I’m super grateful for. I also feel that I had to do the show to grow as a person.
My time on The X Factor has been the wildest catalyst for growth and change. I’m a different guy in so many ways. As cheesy as it sounds, since then it’s like I’ve been meeting myself for the first time.
Why do you enjoy musical theatre?
Musical theatre combines what I love—music and acting. It’s an adrenalin rush because, unlike screen acting, you’ve got this audience to feed off every night and you only get one shot—one take! Every show is different.
It’s also a massive challenge vocally, which I learned pretty quickly on the first day of rehearsals for my previous musical Violet. I’m singing and projecting my voice in a way I wouldn’t normally when I do my solo artist work. Doing and maintaining eight shows a week is no joke! It’s definitely teaching me a whole new level of discipline—plus there’s the dancing!
What is the most challenging aspect of playing Seaweed in Hairspray?
In prepping for the role, the toughest part will probably be nailing his slick dance moves!
How does your faith impact your music and performances?
I’d say there’s certain things I will and won’t do, say and sing about. I do what I do from a place of purpose and genuinely love what I do, too, no matter how rough things get.
Other than that, I try and keep things pretty relatable. I’m just a regular guy. I’m not about imposing what I believe on anyone or preaching at people.
Do you have a motto in life and what does it mean to you?
‘Don’t just exist. Don’t just survive. Live.’
It’s a quote of mine and it means everything to me. What’s the point of being here just to take up space and not be present, making the most of our time, opportunities and the people we love?
I totally believe life is about living on purpose with purpose.
This was published in Warcry on March 5 2016. You can read it here.