Allison Dore started her career in the entertainment industry as an actor. It wasn’t until her older brother, renowned comedian Jon Dore, encouraged her to try stand-up that she got introduced to the world of comedy. Eventually she started a podcast, and in six months, after completing 100 episodes, was offered a spot on SiriusXM’s Canada Talks. It was here where Allison found her true passion in interviewing people and sharing their stories. Currently, Allison hosts the new and popular SiriusXM Canada Radio show The Breakdown, and Allison Dore’s BroadCast on Canada Laughs, celebrating women in comedy all over the world. This fall, Allison launched Howl & Roar Records – a female centric comedy record label aimed at empowering artists and facilitating the creation of content for women and underrepresented performers in comedy.
My first job ever was… at McDonald’s! The classic first job. I was 15, and many of my friends worked there as well. It is also a company that promotes from within, so the managers and even reps from head office understood what it was like to be on the floor, because they started there. So, they tend to be very good at training, which set me up for subsequent jobs.
I chose my career path because… In a way, I didn’t! I always assumed I would be an actor and stand-up comedian, and I plugged away at that until my mid 30’s. Interviewing and radio took me by surprise and turned out to be the job I never knew I always wanted. Helping people share their stories has become my passion, because I have seen how it can bring us together.
My proudest accomplishment is… My podcast, Digging In. I had to learn so much to produce it: how to use a studio board to record, how to edit audio, figuring out uploading and submitting to sites for streaming and downloads… And then trust that the interviews I do are interesting enough to put out in the world. The sense of accomplishment and pride I felt when I put out the first episode was enormous. I felt like a kid again, wanted to show everyone what I made all by myself! It is my true labour of love, and my favourite thing to do.
My boldest move to date was… Starting Howl & Roar Records is by far my biggest kick at the can. I’m essentially hoping to change the culture of comedy in Canada, where comedians are treated like they are a dime a dozen, and that mediocrity is the best they can hope for. We grow the greatest comedians in the world here, and yet we don’t appreciate or help them until they move away. I’m trying to create a place where comedians will have a voice, and an ally to help them get where they want to go.
I surprise people when I tell them… that most of my life I have struggled with crippling depression and anxiety. Now I am so good at navigating and managing my mental and emotional health that people can’t believe there was a time when I was afraid that I’d never be able to support myself, because I either couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed and face the world, or because I kept getting fired. I thought I was the least capable person in the world, and I had ZERO self-worth. To be in a position now where I have multiple jobs, am in wonderful health, and able to advocate for others almost surprises me sometimes. It was a long journey, but so worth it. If you or someone you love is struggling: Don’t give up! There is hope, I promise!
My best advice to people starting their career is… Never stop learning and trying to improve. The second you think you are “good enough” at what you do, you will start to slip. None of us are perfect, so there is always room to grow. Especially when it comes to communication and dealing with people. Listening is actually a skill that needs continual practice to be truly good at.
My best advice from a mentor was… Value your work, which is hard as a new entrepreneur. Asking people to trust you in a new venture is difficult, and it’s easy to want to add a selling point like working for less than you deserve, so it seems like a bargain. Believing in yourself and your product or service is paramount, and it starts with a proper price tag. It also teaches you to value the work that others do, which only fosters good relationships with the people you collaborate with.
“Never stop learning and trying to improve. The second you think you are “good enough” at what you do, you will start to slip.”
I would tell my 20-year old self… All I wanted back then was for someone to tell me I was going to be okay. I wish I could go back and tell myself that. That I was resilient, and capable of so much. Now, whenever I feel overwhelmed, I remind myself of how far I have come, and how much I have accomplished, and I say those things to myself now. I will be okay, I have overcome so much – I am a survivor.
My biggest setback was… When I was 23 I had a nervous breakdown, which spiraled into self-medicating, which spiraled into drug addiction. For seven years I wasn’t fully present in my life, I was just trying to survive the fear and sadness that were ever present.
I overcame it by… When I was 30 I went to a wonderful rehab facility, that really took a progressive, holistic approach to rehabilitation. They combined traditional talk therapies with acupuncture, meditation, art therapy, basically they threw whatever they could out there and encouraged us to find what works for us. That, combined with my amazing therapist, helped me find my way to true health, and living without crippling fear and anxiety.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… Honestly…probably spend it in bed. I love getting cozy and reading my book till I drift off to sleep. Some days I think “How early is too early to go to bed?” And the answer is “It is NEVER too early.”
The last book I read was… To Die but Once by Jacqueline Winspear. It is the latest book about Maisie Dobbs, a psychologist and investigator, this one taking place at the outbreak of the second World War. Maisie is one of my favourite fictional characters; she is highly intelligent, empathetic, and fearless about being who she is, despite being very different from what she is “supposed” to be.
I stay inspired by… Reading is my favourite activity, and I’ll read anything and everything. One of my great inspirations is Dr. Maya Angelou, and I go back to her writings again and again. I also love listening to talks by motivational speakers, like Mel Robbins or Eric “ET” Thomas, who are my current favourites. In dire situations, when I need an immediate dose of motivation, I listen to “Good As Hell” by Lizzo on repeat for as long as necessary!
The future excites me because… I now understand, and truly believe, anything is possible. Life can be so magical, you just have to really commit to looking for it sometimes.
My next step is… For the rest of 2018 I’m focused on supporting the ventures I have going on right now, which are my radio shows — my talk show “The Breakdown with Allison Dore” and my weekly show celebrating women in comedy, “Allison Dore’s BroadCast.” Every second Monday I put out my podcast “Digging In”, which is hour long, in-depth conversations with people about their personal philosophies, how they overcome obstacles, and building the life you want. And of course, Howl & Roar Records! We have several more shows and live album records leading all the way into 2019.