Kelcie Bush is a Wichita Falls native who always dreamed of working in Orlando for Disney. Passionate for theater and costuming, Kelcie honed her skills every single day. On pure faith she decided to move to Orlando and today is living out her dreams working for the one company that filled her with hope and joy throughout her childhood. Her story is inspiring and, actually, a lot like many other Disney stories that we all grew up watching. Dreams really do come true.
What sparked your passion for costumes?
I’ve always loved dressing up ever since I was a little girl. I had an entire chest that was dedicated to my personal costume collection, which eventually had to be moved to the extra closet because it wouldn’t stop growing!
I would say what started my passion would specifically be a program called “West Fest”. It was a theatre arts camp provided by a grant at Midwestern State University. I was fourteen at the time and with the program we got to audition and work in the theatre on our shows. It was basically conditioning us for college life in the arts. We would have workshops/lessons in the morning, work hours in the shops in the afternoon, and rehearsals for our shows at night (we produced two plays). So, to put it frankly, I was in theatre heaven. I was assigned to the costume shop, there I met Elizabeth Lewandowski, who later became my college professor and mentor, and I began to learn how to sew. I performed my first leading role that summer and the world of theatrical costuming was officially introduced to me. The summer of 2006 definitely changed me and quickly set the course of the rest of my educational life.
Can you tell us a little about your experience on stage?
Yes! I began to officially do theatre when I was fourteen (I’ve been doing this for over ten years now!) at S.H. Rider High School. I performed all throughout high school and was even the president of the Drama Club/Thespians my senior year. Then I attended Midwestern State University where I performed all four years and also worked in the costume shop (kind of a full circle thing). I graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2013. I also performed in musicals at both Backdoor Theatre and Wichita Theatre in Wichita Falls, TX for a couple of years. After college I worked for three summer seasons at the Texas Shakespeare Festival in Kilgore, TX where I was cast in two of my first ever professional contracts. My second year I was in the chorus of “My Fair Lady” and the next year I was in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
How long have you been involved with costuming?
About ten years now, although I didn’t get serious about my costuming studies until college partially because I finally had the resources and materials to learn how to sew.
Does costuming inspire your personal wardrobe?
A lot actually!! There was a point in college where I was completely broke and one morning I decided I hated all of my clothes. Since I had no money to replenish my ‘horrible’ wardrobe I decided to get creative. My brain was firing and all at once I was inspired! I started creating outfits based on my favorite characters from books, movies, television shows, icons, you name it! Suddenly my closet contained the most wonderful possibilities! This was back before ‘bounding’ as a character was mainstream. I was so excited about it that I started posting my outfit creations each day on my social media and it caught on really fast! My friends would come up to me and ask “Who are you today?!”…and days that I said “I’m just Kelcie”…they were disappointed (but in a good way.) A lot of people said that they looked forward to seeing my character for each day, either in person or on their computers. My posts gained popularity and I even had people request certain characters! I loved it when I was able to successfully create something that they asked for, because it was entertaining, and maybe I made that person happy. I confess, I knew some people may have found it weird or annoying, but I didn’t care. It made me happy. It was an opportunity to be creative each and every day, like a daily brain jogger to create a completed costumed look with items I already owned. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I did put together some pretty crazy getups which I totally walked around in public with!! I photo documented almost every single one I ever did and there’s a few flops in there but that was never the point of my project.
What are some of your favorite creations?
In regards to my outfits it would definitely be the Disney themed outfits! I always had so much fun comparing color palettes and accessories. In regards to actual costuming, I loved working in the costume shop in college and two projects that stick out in my mind are our production of “Romeo and Juliet”. It had a Brother’s Grimm/Storybook vibe to the design and I learned a lot about corsetry and Italian Renaissance style clothing that year. That knowledge led me to my senior year where I made all but one of the corsets from scratch for our production of “Sweeney Todd”, which I also performed in.
How did you make the decision to move to Orlando?
In college I began the process of applying for the Disney College Program and for actual Disney jobs in Florida. I also began auditioning for Walt Disney World as a performer remotely, through online video submissions, traveling to cities, my Mom and I actually drove out to Austin one time for an audition. This formula continued for three years to no avail and it just got to the point where I was refusing to give up on my dream. Then, in the summer of 2015, things started changing for me. My decision wasn’t made alone. It quite literally took a whole village. I met the right people who then connected me to other people in Orlando, I collected leads for jobs, and had an overwhelming amount of support for me and my dreams. It got to the point where I had to leave or a lot of people would be disappointed in me. I truly felt like it was a now or never situation and I knew if I didn’t try to go for my dreams it was going to be something I regretted for the absolute rest of my life. So, I made the choice. The moment that happened, doors blew open cracking in their frames, windows shattered, and my path became clear. In all that broken glass I could see all the possibilities, opportunities, and even my dreams reflected back up at me. I sound dramatic but golly it was a dramatic event! Leaving the life I knew and had carved out in my community to start fresh was both liberating and absolutely beyond terrifying.
What did your family think about your decision?
Honestly there were some pretty unsavory fights about my choice at first. I had mentioned this being a possibility for a few years, but back then I doubt anyone believed I would actually go. I didn’t really believe it myself! As time passed and my move date got closer they eventually agreed that I needed to leave while I had the opportunity to seek out a career. It’s still hard being so far away from home and all of my family. I’ve only been able to visit home once in a whole year. Support has gotten stronger and I know they’re extremely proud of me. I’m still looking for ways to make them proud.
You’ve experienced a lot of rejection and hardship along the way. What keeps you motivated?
Yes. It hasn’t been all sunshine, rainbows, and magic. Not at all. It can be hard to stay motivated when you find yourself washing dirty tights alone within the depths of an empty theatre house long after the performance has ended and all the audience, performers, and technicians have gone home, thinking about the audition you have to get up for in a few hours. What keeps me going is my thankfulness to be working in my field; to have a job in the professional theatre world is an absolute blessing. No, my job title/duties may not be glamorous, but it is necessary to keep these shows running and to make sure those costume pieces are ready each night for the next day so the team can come in and put on the show that may influence a single child’s life forever. For auditions, what keeps me motivated is that I truly believe that with each and every “no” I’m one step closer to my “yes”. I keep an audition journal and I try to write something I’ve learned at each and every audition. I also document my mistakes so I can learn from them for the next time. I’m still auditioning. My journey has yet to conclude on that field.
It has always been a dream of mine to work for Disney. They’re one of the top entertainment companies in the entire world and that’s something I want to be a part of!
What kind of “roles” are you auditioning for at Disney World?
I actually can’t say specifics. What I can say is that I’m actively auditioning to work in the entertainment department. I’m not ready to give up on my dreams.
What kind of work will you be doing with Walt Disney World?
Again I have to be weirdly non-specific. I’ll be a costume assistant primarily based in Magic Kingdom Park. Basically anything in the park could come into that department. Once I start training I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities for excellence! For now I’m just ready to network, learn, and use this opportunity to grow as an artist!