PEABODY (CBS) — As one of only about half a dozen female ringmasters in the business, Stephanie Monseu leads a cast of daredevils, trapeze artists, and more at the Big Apple Circus.

“The job of a ringmaster is to make the audience feel like welcome guests,” Monseu tells WBZ-TV. At this point, she is a circus veteran.

Stephanie Monseu (WBZ-TV)

If you had asked 25 years ago, Monseu would have told you she was going to pursue a career in jewelry design. But that changed suddenly after a life-altering crash.

“I got hit by a car and loss the use of both of my hands for over a year and in that time, I met somebody who changed the course of my life by teaching me how to juggle and eat fire and with him, I started a small circus company and never looked back,” she says.

Now, the tent is her home.

“Everything I love comes together in the circus ring,” she says. “It smells special: cotton candy, popcorn, horses, sawdust, you know there’s a very special environment that can only happen in here.”

The Big Apple Circus (WBZ-TV)

Monseu’s coworkers know they are lucky.

“It’s the right time, the right woman for the right time,” says one performer.

“She’s doing a fantastic job and I get mistaken for her a lot and I love that because I feel very powerful,” says Jenny Vidbel.

Monseu also hopes young girls in the audience take note. “You can do anything. There’s no limit to what you can achieve if you put your mind to it.”

And it seems they are. “Oh my god, I feel so empowered right now,” a young attendee says after the show.

The Big Apple Circus will be at the Northshore Mall in Peabody through May 12.

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