That's What She Said

Episode 58: Visiting with Angela Baio of Lehigh Valley, PA and her story, “How One Ballet Class Changed My Life

Woman holding a mic on stage laughing, women sit on couches behind her

Angela Baio That's What She Said

SSPP ep 58 ANGELA BAIO “How One Ballet Class Changed My Life”

Our guest today is Angela Baio, another woman who braved the microphone at the inaugural That’s What She Said presented by the Junior League of the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania in March 2022, with a wonderful story of her three-year-old self taking a position on ballet class that set the stage for the rest of her life.

ANNOUNCER 00:00 Raising women’s voices one story at a time. Welcome to The She Said Project Podcast

[Music: The She Said Project Podcast Theme]


JENETTE JURCZYK 00:27 This is The She Said Project Podcast! Welcome! Welcome to our friends, our fans, our She Said Sisters, our co-hosts, our co-hostesses,


JENETTE 00:36 Kerry and Jenette in the WILL studio in Urbana, Illinois, where we get to spend time with some really amazing women who have braved the microphone—as we are now—we are braving the microphone every time we get together.

KERRY 00:50 That’s right. There’s no shortage in the world, in our community, and definitely in our She Said Sister community of women braving the microphone and telling some pretty fantastic stories.

JENETTE 01:01 So we started here in Illinois, where you and I sit today. But in 2022, we really broke out of our home base, if you will. And we saw That’s What She Said shows pop up in new cities. And one of the ones I’m really excited about is That’s What She Said, Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, because that was produced by a local Junior League, the Junior League of the Lehigh Valley, they saw That’s What She Said as an opportunity to produce an event that empowered women, that could raise awareness for their organization, and raise some money for the work that they do in their community. And I’m so honored, I actually did get to travel. As you know, Kerry, I’m from the East Coast. So I headed east, I grabbed my mom and my sister and I think my niece and my sister in law, and we went to see That’s What She Said in the Lehigh Valley. It was cool. It was very cool. And Kevin was there. Kevin, our master behind the scenes. And so we got to know these incredible women. So I’m excited for you to get to meet and get to know our guest today.

KERRY 01:03 Well, the great part for me, of not being part of being there, but also the behind the scenes of a show, is I got to see that show as anyone would. I didn’t know the stories, hadn’t edited them. And it was such a treat for me to get to hear them for the first time when they were literally facing down the microphone.

JENETTE 02:17 Yeah, and this one stood out to me the story of our guest [Kerry laughing] today. This one stood out as you love those stories where it’s about that one nugget, that one moment in time where your whole perspective changes. We love when we find those magic moments and the story is a perfect example of that.

KERRY 02:33 Well, I love badass women [Jenette laughing] and this is definitely a badass woman. So get to it.

JENETTE 02:39 Alright, I’m so excited to share with our audience today. Our guest all the way from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, Angela Zanelli, welcome to The She Said Project Podcast.

ANGELA BAIO 02:48 Thank you both so much. It’s so nice to be here and that was a… that was a heck of an introduction, so I feel a little bit of pressure here. But before we even get started, Jenette and Kerry, I just want to let you know, that since I saw you back in, back in March from when we did the show, I’ve actually had a last name change. I went back to my maiden name of Baio, going through a divorce right now, and it kind of plays in a little bit to the story I told, so happy to share more.

JENETTE 03:16 Well, welcome Angela Baio! It’s nice to get to re-know you. Do you want to share a little bit about the story of this rebirth and this renaming?

ANGELA 03:25 Sure. So, at the time when the, when the Junior League asked me to be part of the event, and I should also just shout out to the Junior League because they are a wonderful group of women in the Lehigh Valley, they’re true leaders and volunteers and committed to service. And the event that we had there actually ended up raising some money for Lehigh Valley Reads, which is our third grade reading campaign that I actually, I lead, so I’m very grateful to them for doing the event. So when they, when they asked me to do it, I had said to them, this is a great event. I’m so excited, you know, you’re doing something like this, and to raise money for Lehigh Valley Reads, but you don’t have to ask me to be part of it. Like I, you know, I was like, I thought they were kind of like throwing me a bone. And they were like, oh, no, you know, you should, you should do it. And I was like, all right. And then, you know, getting back to the to the story, I had asked him I was like, well, is there anything you want me to focus on? Like, what’s kind of the guidelines? And they were just like, no, it’s, it’s just really, you know, the story that you want to tell. And at the time, I was just going through some personal, you know, transition, coming out of a relationship and I was thinking about just, just a lot of things about myself and kind of what got me to that point and what helped me to move on. And I wanted to tell an original story that was special to me. And to tell you the truth, the story that I told is kind of the laughing joke at every like holiday dinner, and I thought well, how cool would it be to take, you know, Angela’s kinda laughing joke of the story and make it empowering for, for women. So that’s kind of how it happened.

JENETTE 05:05 And that’s exactly what you did. It very much felt like we were sitting around the dining room table and you’re sharing. ‘Okay, here comes Angela, telling the story of, you know, when she was three years old again,’ but you did exactly that—you used it as an example that women can learn from today. And then you applied it to life and you applied it to the women in the audience, what their takeaways could be.

JENETTE 05:25 Let’s just play the audio clip of your performance so that nobody is left out. We’re… we all know that moment that we’re talking about. And then we can talk some more. To our friends listening today, let’s get to know Angela Baio, by hearing her holiday dinner story that she shared onstage, in That’s What She Said Lehigh Valley in March of 2022, with her story titled, “How One Ballet Class Changed My Life.”

(Originally recorded on March 11, 2022 at Cedar Crest College, Allentown PA)
ANGELA 05:51 This is probably one of the most vulnerable positions I’ve ever been in.
05:56 So I wanted to do a little exercise here with you first to just kind of kick it off. And I just want you to take a really good look at me. Don’t judge me too much. But you know, what I’m wearing what I sound like, you know, how I’m presenting to you. And I want you to make some assumptions. And I know some of you know me, but it doesn’t matter. Make some assumptions. Make some judgments about me. And then I want to, I want you to just tuck that away somewhere and we’ll we’ll come back to it later. And now I’m going to tell you a story. [pause]

06:35 Picture it. [laughter] Brooklyn, 1981-ish. [laughter] I’m three years old, right around three years old. And we lived in this tiny apartment, so, so tiny, tiny two bedroom apartment and if I went into my bedroom at the time and stuck my arms out like this, I could reach both both walls on either side. You know, it’s got like all the quintessential like terrible like late 70s stuff in it had like a brown refrigerator and like linoleum floor or whatever. But I just thought it was like, you know, I castle. So my mom is a first time mom at the time. I’m an only child. She’s in her mid 20s and she’s just elated to have a little girl. So like the minute I like popped out and like took my first breath, I had like a dress on I had like nail polish on my nails. I mean, it was like the whole thing I had like, really long, like longer than this, but just as thick and curly, hair and she should brush it. Brush it. Yeah, it sounds exactly like it was—it was not pleasant. So the day finally comes, right? And I’m old enough to be enrolled in my first ballet class. And I’m going to tell you that I never asked to be in ballet. Nor do I think I ever did anything that would ever give my mother a clue that I wanted to be in ballet. But I didn’t, I didn’t really know what’s happening, I was super little and so one day she, she gets… she gets everything together. She gets, you know, dress, she gets the leotard, the tights, the shoes, you know, my hair goes up and everything and I’m sitting there like, alright, like, I don’t know where I’m going, I have no idea. I’m gonna go we go we go to the first ballet class, you know, and I had no idea what to expect. And I was pretty outgoing as a little kid. But I have to say like, at that time in, in, like larger crowds, I was still a little shy. So here we are and my mom walks in and I opened the door and I walk into this classroom and there are all these little girls flitting around in like tutus and like pink things and I’m like, Oh my gosh, and I was like oh my goodness. And I knew immediately that I really just didn’t fit in there—at all. And I didn’t want to be there and I kind of froze up and I spent the entire class like this [scrunching down] underneath my mother’s chair. Seriously, like I don’t remember a lot of things from my childhood but I remember this.

So, you know we don’t say anything we go home I don’t know… you know, I’m three again so every day feels like a year and like every month feels like, I don’t know, five years. So, you know, we don’t really talk about it, and then like the next week rolls around and it’s obviously time for ballet class again. So out comes all the you know all the accoutrements: the tights, the this, the that and I’m like, I have to go back to this shit? [laughter] And I’m like, no!

09:58 So I didn’t know, I’m like, Oh my gosh, she’s gonna maybe go back. So she’s getting everything on me and everything’s just itchy. And I’m just, you know, everything’s on. And I remember standing there in the kitchen and I’m like, I don’t want to go. And she looked at me and I saw just all the blood drain from her face. [laughter] All the visions of a prima ballerina now had just gone right out the frickin window. And she turned to me. And she said, [stern voice] you’re going.

10:40 And so, at that moment, I basically did what any three year old would do when I started to throw a tantrum. And I was crying and screaming and carrying on and nothing was working. And it probably went on for about 15 minutes, but again, in my head, that was like, it was going on for hours now. And so finally, I realized that there was only one way I was going to get out of going to that ballet class. [pause] So I stood there in the middle of the kitchen. And I peed. [laughter and applause] I pissed through everything. And I only had one of everything. And my mother looked at me…

11:39 I’ve never told the story, like this is a thing. They said, tell a story, Angela. I’m like, alright. Like..

11:50 So she, she looked at me, and she screamed at me in the top of her lungs, but then she never ever made me go to that damn ballet class again. [applause]

12:04 So, I don’t even know where the hell I am in these notes. [laughter] I think I’m like… I don’t know. Um. THE END, just kidding.

12:17 So. So you might be asking me like, you know, okay, Angela, this is great. It’s funny and everything. But why the heck are you telling this story? And you know, what is so important about a girl peeing in her leotard? Well, I am going to tell you. So it’s the first time that this girl stood in her power. And it is the first time that I set a boundary. And it is the first time that I recognized discomfort and I knew that I did not want to sit in it as I continue to grow. Oh, actually, that’s not true. So well, kind of as I continued to grow. I mean, I do. I wish that I could tell you that those three things that, that was the attitude that stuck with me as I got older, but it’s not. And as I grew, I recognized that I wasn’t necessarily like the other girls. I like to play with the boys at recess. I preferred pants over dresses. And my life was forever changed when my dad came home one day and bought me my first baseball glove. [applause] So unlike, unlike the ballet attire that seemed to go over much better. And at some point, my mom will watch this. So I do need to tell you that the whole ballet thing, it didn’t turn me gay, that was a whole other story. So don’t worry about it. It’s fine. [applause and laughter] I kid…

14:03 So, as I got older, I realized that a lot of those things about myself weren’t necessarily accepted. Right? So, society had certain norms, and I didn’t necessarily fit into them and they didn’t fit the person that I was becoming. It made me feel self conscious. And I’m pretty sure I had some major impostor syndrome going on because I most definitely wasn’t a boy and I didn’t want to be one. But I didn’t necessarily fit in with most of the other girls either. And I’m pretty sure this played a role in my being shy, having a lack of confidence in myself, and a habit of setting poor boundaries just to make other folks happy. Decades later, as I sit here and reflect, I can now laugh about peeing in my leotard, but I’m also proud of that, that and the journey that has brought me here in front of you all today, with enough confidence to tell that story and to also admit that even after all this time, I’m really still not that confident. However, there are many things I’ve learned along the way, and I really did want to share them here.

15:12 Never let someone’s opinions define you.

15:17 If someone makes you feel bad for setting a boundary, get rid of them, because they most likely shouldn’t be in your life anyway.

15:26 Wear the clothes that make you feel beautiful, even if you do look like Joan Jett at 11:30 at night at Cedar Crest College! [applause and laughter]

15:42 Sit with yourself, listen to yourself. And above all, love yourself… often.

15:49 So there are a lot of themes here. I asked you at the beginning of our time together to look at me and make some judgments. And you took a good look at me and you probably already read about me before you got here. You might know me, you might have saw my bio in the playbill. And I’m sure you thought you really knew a lot of things about me. And that’s okay, because we all do that. And there’s no right or wrong answer to this exercise. But I, what I wanted to do was I wanted to prove the point that as much as we think we know how someone feels and how someone presents and how someone experienced life, we don’t. The human experience is so special. But it’s different for all of us. In this life, we spend so much time focused on the past, the future, and the people and the things around us, that we lose who we are, and why we are. So if I have to leave you with one thing this evening, it’s the request to truly know and love yourself. And for God’s sake, don’t be afraid to speak your damn truth. [applause]                                                                                                                                                                                         

JENETTE 17:56 Angela, what I love about you, and the story you shared on stage is that you have known who you were from a very young age. Would you agree?

ANGELA 18:28 Yes. And I knew, in that very moment. I think I’ve had to remind myself of who I am, over time and over the years. But that was the earliest memory I have of just knowing what I wanted in that very moment.

KERRY 18:45 I love those, as Jenette said, those little nuggets, those moments looking back that you can recognize that in that moment, you literally took a stand and took a whiz, whatever, that you, you knew. And I love that, you know, this little person already knew like, I am gonna stand my ground here. I know what I want and don’t want.

ANGELA 19:03 And I also had to figure out how to do it. Because I was so tiny. And I mean, it sounds silly, but it might have been in my brain that was the smartest way out of the situation. And I guess it worked.

KERRY 19:13 Well, it’s good practice. In my day job. Early Childhood Development is a passion of mine. And I always say you don’t learn how to deal with adversity or how to express yourself if you aren’t ever in those situations. And so you just trade up that moment was your first practice or maybe it was your 10th practice, but that’s the one that stands out in your mind. And it’s so great that you had that moment and then like yep, did it and now going to do it again. And then here you are still doing it.

ANGELA 19:37 Yeah, and I honestly think it’s those little moments that fuel you to be able to even stand up on stage and do something like that because I was so nervous. And Jenette I don’t know if you remember this, but before I went on, we were kind of in the VIP area. And I had told you I was like hey, I was like I want to be on your podcast.

JENETTE 19:57 Hi, here you are!

ANGELA 19:58 You looked at me like I had three heads. Yeah, I’m glad I’m here.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

JENETTE 20:02 I’m glad you’re here too. Your story is worth sharing with a larger audience. And that’s what we tried to do here and get the word out, get the word out that, you know, women can be anything that they want to be even when they’re three years old. And they know what they know, they know. But wouldn’t it be amazing if we all knew what we knew what we knew and stood up for it?

ANGELA 20:20 Yeah, and not only knowing what we know, and standing up, but also supporting the people around us to do the same. I think you all referred to this as kind of a sisterhood. And I truly believe that the more women empower each other, the better off we’ll all be.

KERRY 20:37 Oh, I agree. I think there’s something pretty special about this sort of leading the way or giving permission. I was in another show once and a friend of mine who knew I was super nervous, when she got done with her piece, she turned around and she winked at me. And in my mind, at least it was like you got this, you’re gonna kill it. You’re it was just that little thing, that nod from another woman. And I think that’s what all of these pieces are to women who are watching listening. People you tell about it, it’s that little wink of you’ve got this.

ANGELA 21:05 Yeah, I agree. And I also thought being up there, like the experience itself, that’s what it was like, for me, everybody was super supportive, whether we were sitting back in the green room or out at the reception, and the audience was clapping and nodding. And it was just a really nice environment to be in. It was very welcoming. And just very supportive.

JENETTE 21:28 That seems to be what happens when we create each She Said Show like, it is the intention, and we go about it very purposefully, but women at the heart, when you create that safe space, and you just allow women to be seen and be heard, there is nothing like it. We tried to explain to our friends, what a That’s What She Said show was like, but if you’ve never actually been there, you know, yes, watch the videos. It’s awesome. These stories are awesome. But there’s something so palpable about the energy in the room, when women come together and you’re cheering each other on just for being who you already are. Or just for being the woman you turned into after making that stand at three years old in a tutu on your kitchen floor. You refer to yourself as like Joan Jett. And you’re, you know, you dress to be your most beautiful and that’s what we tell women who were coming on the stage to they asked us What should we wear, what should we wear and we will say you need to dress to be your most beautiful, what makes you feel beautiful to walk on the stage. Some women come in cocktail dresses and gowns. And some women come in ripped jeans, because that is their form of beautiful and who are we to say otherwise?

ANGELA 22:33 I think that’s 100% True, it’s exactly how I felt. And it is part of just living, you know, our authentic lives. And I know I spoke about speaking your truth but you don’t only speak your truth with words, you know, you speak your truth with body language and the clothes we wear and how we present ourselves. So to me, that was a big deal to be able to just to be comfortable up there and, and I really appreciated that.

KERRY 23:01 What was the feedback you got?

ANGELA 23:03 I got a lot of great feedback. I’ve had I still have people like walk up to me, like I go to a lot of community events. I do a lot of relationship building and community outreach in my, you know, my everyday work. And I’ve had people pull me aside at like, like a gala event to tell me that they were at the event and how wonderful my story was. I mean, so, so flattering and again, like so supportive. actually had somebody telling me that they reference peeing in their tutu now, as a, as a feeling. Like, I honestly…

JENETTE 23:36 Don’t want to do this. I’m gonna stand here in my power and pee and my tutu

KERRY 23:41 “Don’t make me pee in my tutu. Don’t make me do it!”

ANGELA 23:43 Don’t make me Yeah, I feel like peeing in my tutu was now this way she described how she felt.

JENETTE 23:49 Oh, we can start a movement here. i This could be a thing.

ANGELA 23:54 I don’t know about a movement, but I think a hashtag would definitely work.

KERRY 23:58 It’s fabulous. I love that

JENETTE 24:00 #peeinyourtutu. Now you referenced your daughters who were in the audience, am I right? Yeah. Tell us about them and your relationship and how it felt to be standing up there with them watching you.

ANGELA 24:12 They were not happy about coming in the first place. And they’re teenagers and they had to run from another thing they had, they had a practice they were at and they ran my sister pick them up and they were tired and hungry. And so and you know, the event went kind of late and I wasn’t exactly sure how they were going to react, you know, would they be happy? Or, you know, would they be in Paris? I wasn’t sure because I didn’t tell anybody what my story was before I got up there. So even my friends and family that were there had no idea what I was going to talk about. And afterwards I got the biggest hugs and like the I am proud of you moms and that actually meant more than anything else. And I should mention their teenagers, you know, like 16 and 13. So this is like a this is an eight to where it’s like hit or miss. And I was just I was happy that they saw me go up there so that they know that they can do that too.

KERRY 25:08 That’s amazing. My kids weren’t old enough to come in the first couple years that we did it in the first time that they came, boy did it feel different, knowing that my girls were in the audience and then listening to their feedback was so interesting, the ways that were similar to how I felt, and then the ways that were different and the different perspectives. And it was really something to have my own girls out there.

JENETTE 25:27 I love what you said also, that you’re showing them, you’re showing them what it looks like to stand in your power to stand and share those those awkward moments as embarrassing moments. But what you did is you made everybody laugh. And when you make people laugh with you, there’s this bond and this connection right away. And I’m so happy that you got to share that moment with them. That’s pretty powerful. I look forward to that moment. My children are in that pre-tween stage. And so they’ve not yet been invited to a show. But they know, they know what Mommy does. And they know one day they know one day they’re gonna get to check it out. This has been fabulous to catch up with you and hear stories from the she said vault from other communities when we weren’t part of the original process. So it’s new for us, it’s vulnerable for us. We’re so excited to hear that it’s working, that sharing the stories translates into other communities. It translates into other audiences, even when we just get to sit back and watch and enjoy from this other vantage point. So thank you for saying yes. Oh,

ANGELA 26:24 thank you. Thank you for having me. I and I don’t know how many stories you have in your vault. But I would bet that because everybody has their own, you know, unique life experience that each one is different and everybody brings something different to the table. I actually

JENETTE 26:43 counted including the 2023 cast and all of our virtual shows 178 Women stories as as of February 2023 will be over 200 very quickly in 2023 Well Angela, thanks for finding time to join us on The She Said Project Podcast where we strive to share these awesome stories with more women across the country and around the world empowering women one story at a time. Thank you so much.

KERRY 27:12 Thank you Angela.

ANGELA 27:13 Thank you for having me

KERRY 27:14 and over and out


[Music: The She Said Project Podcast Theme]

ANNOUNCER 27:18 Thank you for listening to The She Said Project Podcast in partnership with Illinois Public Media. All materials contained in the podcast for the exclusive property of The She Said Project and That’s What She Said, LLC. For more information on our live shows go to

This podcast was made possible with support from Carle and Health Alliance and presented by Sterling Wealth Management, empowering women to live their best lives.


JENETTE 27:44 That was such a beautiful conversation!

Our guest today is Angela Baio, another woman who braved the microphone at the inaugural That’s What She Said presented by the Junior League of the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania in March 2022, with a wonderful story of her three-year-old self taking a position on ballet class that set the stage for the rest of her life.  

The She Said Project Podcast is recorded in partnership with Illinois Public Media. All materials contained in this podcast are the exclusive property of The She Said Project and That's What She Said, LLC. Learn more at