Things were starting to look up for me. After working a couple of years at the front desk at a four star hotel, I was promoted as an accounting assistant. Everything was significantly better. I worked better hours, I wasn’t stressed out all the time, I had my own desk and I even became ‘Employee of the Year’. I was being asked to sit in on meetings with management because they were beginning to value my input on crucial business decisions. Just as I was gaining my coworker’s respect and getting really good at my job, just as I was getting comfortable… I quit, packed for Los Angeles and left it all behind.
That’s what happens when you chase your dreams – you make sacrifices. Sometimes it’s loss of security in your job, being away from your family, or living in a less than subpar apartment. You just have to believe that these sacrifices will be worth it.
Before moving to LA, I did some acting in the Cincinnati market and took a weekly acting class. A time came however, when I felt like I had stopped growing as an actor and that scared me. It suddenly became clear to me what I wanted and what I needed to do. I was ready to start pushing myself to see how far I can go in this industry. LA is where I felt I needed to be to achieve the most growth, mostly due to the ruthless competition. It’s important to surround yourself with people who are more advanced than you, but it’s just as important to respect where you are on your journey. You can’t beat yourself up about not having as many credits as someone else or not being signed with as good of an agent. You’ll drive yourself mad because there is always going to be someone more advanced than you. I think it’s good to learn from other actors, but then you need to focus on your own personal journey and be accountable for your own career. Many different paths can lead to the same destination.
One thing that I think everyone can really benefit from is goal-planning. I like to visualize my overall goal for what kind of career I want, then I break it down into smaller goals that I can achieve on a daily basis. I’m big on making to-do lists. There are a lot of things that happen in life that can distract you from your goals, so occasional reevaluation helps keep you focused. There’s nothing wrong with taking baby steps as long as you’re walking in forward motion toward that overall goal.
Something I started doing for my career even before I moved to LA was networking. Meeting new people used to be very intimidating for me. I’m by no means a social butterfly, but over the years by constantly stepping outside of my comfort zone, I have gotten better at it. It’s a really cool thing to get to know someone’s body of work online and then meet them in person when an event that their involved with arises. I think it’s wise not to underestimate anyone you meet in this business because you never know how that person could potentially contribute to your success.
I also read a lot of articles and listen to podcasts that talk about the entertainment industry (Inside Acting Podcast!). I think it’s important as an actor to always have that student mentality. Always be learning, whether it’s related to this industry or not. The more you learn, the sharper your imagination.
Because I’m new in town and because I don’t have a lot of credits to put together a solid reel to showcase myself, I began looking toward the benefits of creating my own content. It seems that more and more actors are taking on the role of filmmaker these days as a way to create an outlet for their work to be seen. I decided to go this route by writing a short script that I am currently in the beginning planning phases of filming. Have I ever made my own film before? No. Am I going to give it my best shot? Heck yes!
We’ve all made sacrifices and we’re all on different journeys, but if we set personal goals, put them into action and follow though, I believe we’ll really hit the ground running, whether your like me and just moved to LA to start a career in entertainment or if you’ve been at it awhile but you’re in a rut and need a fresh start. I wouldn’t be where I am today without self-motivation. We need this kind of inner strength to propel ourselves out of our comfort zones and thus opening up new worlds of opportunity. Maybe us newbies have an advantage. We come here all high on hope, we have this positive energy around us and a real faith that we’re going make all of our dreams come true. If you feel like this town or this industry has crushed your spirit over the years, think back to when you were new and full of excitement, ready to fight for your dreams and conquer any obstacles that got in your way. Maybe it’s time to revisit that moment, make some new goals, and create a fresh, new start for yourself.