Eileen Chase grew up in Iola, but now she’s hit the big-time, starring in a recent episode of “America’s Got Talent,” as well as being featured in a host of plays and performances.
The AGT performance involved her dancing The Charleston while wearing a whoopie cushion costume, which provoked quite a lot of laughter from the audience.
Chase’s specific episode aired last week, though it had been filmed back in March, prior to the pandemic with a large live audience.
She said it all began last October when she created the costume for Halloween.
At that time, she also wore a wig and other accessories in order to become an “Old Fart.”
As you can imagine, the costume was a hit as well as a never-ending source of rather “pungent” puns.
“I’ve always been a little stinker,” she said her mom joked.
Along with the costume, Chase also happened to be part of a 1920s dance troupe where they performed, you guessed it, The Charleston.
Chase got the idea to put the costume together with the dance number, and then put the video on Instagram, where the full story involved a whoopie cushion that was ashamed of being gassy but ultimately learned to love herself.
Chase didn’t think much of it at the time, but soon after received a call wanting to know if she’d be interested in an audition.
EILEEN is the daughter of Robert and Jacki Chase, Lawrence, and a 2009 graduate of Iola High School.
Chase earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Oklahoma City University.
She said she chose OCU for its musical theater program, but ultimately switched to acting.
Chase said “the reason I’m an actor is because of the Bowlus Fine Arts Center,” where she starred in multiple performances.
“My parents always took me to the Bowlus,” she said.
Chase participated in dance recitals with the South Street Dance Company, and acted with the Iola Community Theater, including a youth-oriented adaptation of Disney’s “Aladdin.”
It was during this particular performance, Chase said, that she knew she was going to be an actor, that “I’m gonna do this for the rest of my life.”
Other key local performances that Chase enjoyed included “Proof” and “Spitfire Grill,” which was her first leading role in a musical.
AFTER leaving Iola and attending OCU, Chase took the opportunity to travel extensively, including moving to New Zealand and Australia, as well as Bali.
At one point she even moved to Alaska to perform on a cruise ship.
“I’m a woman of the world,” she said. “That’s where I’m from.”
For the past three and a half years, Chase has lived in Los Angeles and loves it, especially the culture and diversity of people.
“There’s a ton of opportunity here,” she said, “so much creating that’s happening.”
“The weather is also top-notch.”
In LA, Chased recently starred as Helena in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” as well as a Halloween-themed show that received a positive review from the Los Angeles Times.
Chase especially enjoyed the “haunt show,” as she called it, because it provided her an opportunity to write scenes as well as perform them.
She also just collaborated on writing a play called “Astroglide,” where her scene and character involve the personification of ADHD.
Even though she makes her home in one of the nation’s biggest cities, Chase still “tries to take [Iola’s] small-town spirit” and apply it, whether to acting, or just making friends with her neighbors.
ALONG with being a talented actor and performer, Chase also delights in singing, playing the piano, banjo, ukulele and guitar.
Other hidden talents include being able to sing with her lips closed — “it sounds like there’s a tiny person in my mouth!” — and being an avid amateur entomologist.
“I’m really into bugs,” she said, especially spiders.
As per her advice for burgeoning artists, she said “I think it’s important to create your own content,” rather than waiting for a given role.
This is especially key since anyone can now post performances online to share with others from almost anywhere.
She also said that when it comes to performing, “just start doing it,” “you can make things anywhere.”
Chase further emphasized how important it is to try things in life that you’re not sure you’ll be good at, and to not be “so set in a plan that you miss the opportunities in front of you.”
That’s a lesson she reportedly learned from Iola actor Kimberly Grigsby.
It’s also important “not to do just one thing,” she said, and to live a “rich life full of lots of interests.”
As for Chase herself, these interests seem to converge on bringing something new into the world every day.
“Creating is my biggest joy in life,” she said.