A photo of Chloe Murray in front of a photo of her office
Courtesy of Chloe Murray; Rebecca Zisser/Insider
  • Chloe Murray followed both her parents into working as a professional dancer.
  • She moved to London on her agent's advice, unaware the country would be locked down weeks later.
  • This is how she changed careers to become a PR executive, as told to writer Jack Needham.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Chloe Murray, a 28-year-old dancer turned PR executive. It has been edited for length and clarity.

This story is part of "How the Pandemic Changed My Career," an Insider series documenting the moves and moments that shaped people's careers over the last two years.

My parents were both dancers. They did pantomimes and spent summer seasons in Blackpool, England. My dad even proposed to my mum at the side of a pantomime stage dressed as a prince. She was dressed as a princess.

Naturally, I always wanted to go into the industry. My parents were very cautious, though.

They told me it wasn't all glamorous, that dancers have a sell-by date.

Male and female dancers in blue take a bow on a blue stage
Chloe Murray (third woman from the left) on stage at Disneyland Paris.Courtesy of Chloe Murray

So, somewhat reluctantly, I studied English language and literature at Leeds University instead of drama. 

It was a box-checking exercise. The degree was something to fall back on, and it kept my mum and dad quiet. But at the time, I had friends who were already dancing. I'd split my computer screen between my dissertation and photos of them lying on beaches.

I wanted to be dancing with them, so as soon as I could do it, I did

I graduated in 2015. I graduated on the Wednesday, auditioned for a world tour on a cruise ship on Thursday, and got offered the contract on Friday

I did two world cruises on the Cunard Queen Elizabeth and Cunard Queen Victoria vessels. I worked with Opera North, an opera and arts organization in Leeds.

Woman photographed in midair executing dance move with her arms extended and feet together
Chloe Murray was due to audition for "Mamma Mia!" when the pandemic hit.Courtesy of Chloe Murray

I've done commercials, Christmas ballets, and spent three months as a tap dancer in Disneyland Paris, which is still a magical place even when you see Mickey Mouse remove his head when he goes around the corner.

I moved to London in February 2020. My agent suggested I do it, saying that London is where I needed to be.

I was set to audition for "Mamma Mia!" soon after. That would have been the dream. I was hearing murmurs of a virus.

My audition kept getting pushed back, then pushed back again

Eventually, it was canceled, and then everything started closing down. 

I thought that maybe I'd taken my final bow, and I felt a little bit cheated.

Usually, if you're going to retire from dancing, you know when you're walking away. I didn't get that, and my "last bow" was at the Thursford Christmas Spectacular in a tiny corner of Norfolk. 

In August, I moved back to Leeds with my boyfriend. He was working as a doctor at an ICU during my time in London, until he was offered a job at St James' Teaching Hospital up there. I worried about him when he walked out the door, so living in a different city would have made that even more difficult. 

With shows, studios, and theaters still all closed down, I needed to find work

I started working at a friend's virtual-assistant business during lockdown, writing website content, blogs, and social-media posts. I really enjoyed it, so I thought, why couldn't I do this as a job?

I sent out a ton of emails to a lot of agencies asking for entry-level work, apprenticeships, and internships. Anything, really. Even if I wasn't making money, I had time to learn.

In September 2020, one of the companies I cold emailed, Fox Agency, offered me an interview. I was flirting with the idea of retraining as a teaching assistant, but the agency sounded brilliant.

Thankfully, I got the job as an associate content specialist. It was more social media than PR, writing blog content and helping to create social-media strategies. Now, I'm a senior PR executive, working with B2B tech clients to share their news and opinions with publications worldwide. 

In my day-to-day, I craft press releases, pitch to journalists, and write articles for clients. Seeing an article I've pitched and written live online or in print is always really exciting.

It's changed my outlook on my career. When you're in any entertainment industry, the goal is just to work.

I was competing against 20 girls for one role, and you can get a "no" for the most ridiculous reasons. You can have the "wrong" color hair or you can look too much like the lead girl. If you just have a job, you're already winning.

Woman with blonde hair and white t-shirt in an office
Chloe Murray in her office with Fox Agency.Courtesy of Fox Agency

But now I'm in a full-time job, I can concentrate on becoming more ambitious, to progress, to develop, learn, and climb the ladder within the environment I'm working in.

I've been able to run dancing and my new career alongside each other, using annual leave to take on dancing contracts.

But dancing is also not my absolute everything anymore, and I don't put the same pressure on myself. If I get a job, awesome. If I don't, it's fine, because I still have other things to do that I really enjoy.

I have danced again, though. Being back on a stage, with my family in the audience, was emotional. I got my finale, took my bow, and thought, this could be my last show, but it also couldn't. Either way, I'll be happy.

Read the original article on Business Insider