I stumbled upon a really heartwarming video on YouTube recently. A dad who happens to be a singer/songwriter posted a video of himself performing a cover from Frozen. Though there are hundreds if not thousands of people performing various Frozen covers on YouTube, this one really struck me, because this dad recorded the song for a very special reason: his two young daughters begged him to do it so that while he was traveling for work, which he does frequently, they could listen to it and in this way be sung to sleep each night, even while he’s away.
What dad could resist a request like that? Being a dad of two daughters myself, I know I would attempt to deliver the stars and moon to them if they were to ask. Walt Disney was famously the same way about his two daughters — just think of what he went through to get Mary Poppins made at their urging.
After watching his video, I felt compelled to learn more about the dad who made it, so I invited him to be interviewed by me for Disney Dads. His name is Andrew Prashad, and he’s an actor, singer, and dancer living with his wife and two daughters. He and I had a great conversation about life, fatherhood, and what he learned about parenting from his own dad:
So, tell me a little about yourself and what you mean when you say in the video that you’re going to be on the road a lot. What would that comprise?
Well, I’m a dad of two girls, 3 and 1. I’m married. I live outside of Toronto. I’m a performer: I’m an actor and a singer, a dancer, and choreographer, tryng to “make it” using my artistic talents, and that’s pretty much what I do. I’m a fairly prominent tap dancer. That’s kind of my forte in terms of dance. I make a living doing what I love, and so that’s really great for me. So one of the things I do is I’m a judge for competitive dance. It’s sort of like rep hockey, but for dance. So from now until June, I’ll pretty much be away every weekend — a weekend being Thursday through Sunday most of the time — judging all over this country and sometimes in the States. They fly me down, and they set me up, and I give them my opinion. They’re kids from 3 or 4 years old up to 18, and they perform in all styles of dance, and I help the kids figure out what they can do to better themselves or give them tips to push it to the next level and so forth.
So, you’re a fairly new dad. Is there anything surprising about being a dad that you didn’t anticipate?
I would say my time. I anticipated it, but I didn’t anticipate that so much of my time would be devoted to my girls — and that’s a choice that I make. I choose to put the time in with them, but this means sometimes I’m up later and later finishing work. Even the video — my girls wanted me to record the song for them, and they said “Can you do the Snowman song?” and so I recorded it in my basement studio, but I couldn’t record it until two in the morning after everyone was asleep.
It’s really a beautiful piece. You did a nice job on it.
It’s my favorite song, by the way, from the movie. I know you guys got nominated — and won — for Let it Go. But Do You Want to Build a Snowman was my favorite song, and I think the montage that went along with it was one of my favorite movie montages since the beginning of Up.
In terms of being a dad, how do you see that as part of your life? For me, I find that I can’t get enough of it. It becomes most of what I do, being with my kids.
Yeah, it’s kind of become my entire life. But I love that. I love being a dad, educating the girls, and disciplining them when I have to, and doing my best so that they grow up to be good human beings. I guess the thing that surprised me is I figured being a dad would be just another thing about me. But it’s more like I’m a dad, and oh by the way I’m also an actor. It is my thing. It is my title. I’m a dad and husband. And It has taken over everything, but for the better. It affects my work in a positive way, I have new motivation to reach for things and fight the good fight as they say.
That’s great. Now, did you have a close relationship with your own dad?
Oh yeah. My dad and I get along great. I pick up his parenting styles. He was a very strict dad. He was very realistic and practical. He came to this country with next to nothing and made something wonderful of himself and sacrificed everything for us — there’s five of us kids in the family. And probably my biggest risk was when I decided I was going to get into the arts. I was studying forensic science at the University of Toronto, and I decided one day to switch to theater. It was a big deal. But now that they see that I can support a family, there’s food on the table and I can pay a mortgage, and I’m doing what I love as an artist, they’re my number one fans, my mom and dad. And that’s one thing — going through that — if my girls ever want to go into something that’s unpredictable, I’ll support them, but I’ll also have that side of me like my own dad who says I’ll support you, but here’s the realness of the situation of what you’re trying to do. I have to find that balance between how my parents were and how I want to be.
I hear you. As a dad, my younger daughter is really musical, and as much as I’m proud of her and want to encourage her, there’s this fear in my heart about her being a musician because I know how hard it can be to make a living.
It’s so hard. And there’s so much rejection. You have to be a really strong person and you have to believe in yourself. And you have to know that going in. But the successful people are the ones that put the work in.
Our dads are imperfect, but they have a huge influence on the way we live our lives. In what ways has your dad influenced you the most?
Work ethic. Work ethic! That man, to this day — I’m 30 years old — that man works so hard and everything he does is 100%. When he goes in, he goes in and gets it done and gets it done well. And now, I appreciate it even more as an adult myself in the world. Getting things done and getting them done well. I took that away from my dad.
Do you have a particular memory that you cherish of spending time with your dad that really resonates with you or really affects the way you parent your own children?
He traveled a lot, too. And I think what I really remember is that when he was home, he made an effort to really be home. And another thing is we didn’t have a lot of money growing up — in fact, we had next to no money, so small things were really appreciated. It was the best day in the world when he came home with like candy or if we got to go to a movie. That was a rare event.
Another huge thing I learned from him is discipline. Both my parents liked us to follow rules, and I try to set ground rules for my kids, too. But it always came back to I love you. No matter what happened it was always I love you. I remember stealing one time when I was a kid. I stole earrings from my sister. And my dad was like “I love you, but that was really bad. Why did you do that?” Everything he said always began and ended with I love you.
I like that. For me, the thing I find is that my kids are like oxygen to me — I can’t be with them enough. I find myself spending almost all my free time doing things with them. Being with them and doing things with them is really what makes my life so full. Can you talk a little bit about how fatherhood is in your own life with your daughters?
Yes, well one thing that’s so exciting is that I get to introduce things in their world. It’s such a weird concept that things just don’t exist for them until my wife or I bring them into their world. That’s crazy to me, and I love it. Obviously, it won’t be that way forever.
I love talking to dads that have young kids because people would always say to me that it gets better and better, and you just have no idea when your kids are little. As your kids get older, and they can do more and think for themselves, it’s just wonderful to experience that growth that our children go through.
It’s interesting because as an actor, you try to find emotions, and I think about having tried to play a dad before I really was one. And even though you don’t have to have kids to play a parent as an actor … the level and intensity of the love I have for these children — I might have been able to play that before, but I’m not sure I could have felt it. I have a whole new spectrum of understanding now that I’m a dad.
Fatherhood really is a journey that you never want to end. One of the most frightening things for me to think of is that my kids are going to grow up, and they’ll go out into the world, and they won’t be as close to me anymore. But it’s part of what makes the world a good place to live in — wanting the best for our children and wanting the world to be a place that they’ll live in after us. So based on your own experience thus far as a dad, what advice would you give to new dads?
Well, as preachy as it sounds, I’d say to soak up every moment. Be their dad first. You’re the love of their life. You’re the first man they’re going to love. Live up to that responsibility. In their eyes, you’re the best thing in the world.