Singer Spotlight: Teddy Siegel

Singer Spotlight: Teddy Siegel

In the middle of Times Square in July 2021, I sipped the last of my iced coffee and realized I had to go. After being turned away from several businesses, I burst into a McDonald’s and was told the bathroom was for “customers only”. I paid three dollars for a bottle of water and ran up a flight of stairs only to find the door unlocked. I could have just gone in and used the toilet without having to buy that overpriced water.

Still frustrated, I took a video of the outside of the McDonald’s and posted it on a TikTok account I made later that night: @got2gonyc. I hoped that sharing this information would offer relief to at least one other person. Little did I know, posting this video would not only change my life but would spark a movement (no pun intended). 

Since that fateful day in Times Square, I have worked with the Manhattan Borough President on campaigns for multiple bathroom bills, built Google’s largest and most frequently used map in the world, written an op-ed for The New York Times, and have had features on The Kelly Clarkson Show, CNN, Time Magazine, Teen Vogue, and more.

Most people assume I have a background in either political science or civil engineering, but I am actually an opera singer. And it was while I was earning my masters in opera at Mannes School of Music that I was building up what would become a public crusade to make bathrooms more accessible. In between music theory and rehearsals, I was scouting out which bathroom I was going to film next and the subway rides to and from my voice lessons became my editing studio.


In addition to my Got2Go work, I have performed in venues all over NYC: from solo performances at Carnegie Hall to singing in an opera on a ship at South Street Seaport. Even though it has been almost three years, I still chuckle whenever anyone expresses their shock over learning that the person behind “the bathroom account” is an opera singer. To me, the alchemy of transforming a NYC public health and equity crisis into a virtual mission with over half a million followers feels like the work of an artist; but unfortunately, American society today does not place value on the importance of nurturing one’s inner artist.

Through Got2Go, I wield social media’s instantaneous connectivity as a powerful tool for sparking positive change on a global scale. I have also witnessed how easy it is to obscure the nuances of the struggles we all experience in everyday life. Despite its all-encompassing facade, social media’s biggest flaw is its inability to capture the full spectrum of the human experience. Life is messy, unpredictable, and heartbreaking – especially for anyone forging a career in the arts.

My life on paper – or better said, “on Instagram” – may seem perfect; yet, what is hidden beneath the surface of my carefully curated IG feed are the hundreds of rejections, sleepless nights spent worrying about the future, and the silent battles fought behind closed doors. These right of passage moments rarely make it onto our social media feeds. 

Since the day I declared I would be majoring in music, I have dealt with the firing squad of feigned concern. Questions like “what’s your backup plan?”, “what’s your actual job?”, “but what if you never sing at the MET?” are just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond being objectively rude and intrusive, these questions also stem from a lack of understanding. I have witnessed firsthand how many transferable skills accompany a degree in the arts. 

Performing in operas equipped me to speak with ease at a press conference on the steps of New York City Hall. Receiving “we are sorry to inform you” hundreds of times taught me a no-holds-barred approach to life. Analyzing sonata form – which my frustrated undergrad self once called “useless” – has informed the way I edit my videos. After all, it is embracing the instability – whether harmonically or the dichotomy of an “opera singing bathroom influencer” – that results in the most impactful outcomes. 



My negative experience that summer day in Times Square has happened verbatim to thousands of other individuals, but it was my inner artist – trained to view everything with a critical lens – who questioned “why did this happen?” I had absolutely no intention of building a platform, let alone foresee the influence my work would have on the landscape of New York City. 

No matter who you are or what your background is, we are all composers crafting the narrative of our lives. As we navigate the symphony of our existence, we have the power to decide what story we want to tell.

Theodora Siegel

Theodora Siegel is a NYC based opera singer, creator, and writer. She is the founder of Got2Go- a social media based mission dedicated to advocating for public health and equity in NYC. Teddy’s content has reached millions and she has built a community of over half a million followers across all social media platforms. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Time, Insider, The Kelly Clarkson Show, CNN, Teen Vogue & more. Teddy has performed in venues across NYC — from a site specific opera at Southstreet Seaport to solo performances at Carnegie Hall. Her words have been published in The New York Times and Gothamist. To learn more: / @teddy.siegel / @got2gonyc