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Second Shift: 'I clawed my way to stay here'

Australian Emma Zakarevicius planned on being in New York for three months, but she's still here 11 years later.
Emma Zakarevicius

Check out Big Sexy Music atemzmusic.com.

Tawania Pettus

We all know living in the city is expensive. How does the average person make it work? Our Second Shift series features people working more than one job or have a creative way to make ends meet. This week, meet an Australian who works full-time and is in two rock 'n' roll bands. Want to be featured? Email Emily.Laurence@metro.us.

The Stats

Name: Emma Zakarevicius

Age: 35

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Residency: Westchester, NY

Lives: Alone

Number of jobs: 2

You work full-time at a graphic design firm and are in two bands, Crazy Mary and Big Sexy Music. How are you not exhausted at work?

I'm really healthy. I stopped drinking and am really health-conscious about what I eat so I have the maximum energy I can have during the day. Since I'm from Australia, I have to have a visa to work, so I'm not here to hang out, I'm here to accomplish something. Apart from my shows and going to other music events to network, I don't go out and party.

How many nights a week are devoted to music?

About four. I have rehearsals on Mondays, once a week I'm in the studio recording the second album for Big Sexy Music, I have shows one or two nights a week and I'll usually go to another show another night during the week.

Is graphic design a passion of yours or are you working at the firm mostly for the visa?

I'm working for the visa, but the company I work for does really important work for [global] non-profits. They also helped me design my first album cover and are supportive of my music career. If I need a day off because I had a big show the night before, they're generally flexible with that. And I'm still doing artistic work, which I like.

Are you happy with the way your work life is, or are you hoping anything will change?

Considering that I came to New York 11 years ago and only thought I would be here for three months but am still here, I'm really happy where I am now. I really clawed my way up to stay here. But you always want more. I would love to be successful in my art, but I also believe in fate and that everything will happen at the right time. I come from a really small town in Australia and I never would have guessed that I would end up here and have gotten to do everything I've been able to do.

What's the hardest part?

I miss my family a lot. Otherwise, I wouldn't think twice about it. It's tough being on the other side of the world and you're by yourself. I moved here all alone not knowing a single person, but I loved it. I thought, oh my god I can never leave. Now now, I think, oh maybe I will leave. I don't know yet. Every year I reassess.

Check out Big Sexy Music at emzmusic.com.

 
 
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