Year one in Los Angeles down, some of it has gone better than anticipated and some of it has not. Some has surprised me and some has down right shocked me. The learning curve was a bit more curvy than I expected and as I reflect, the good really does outweigh the bad. On the personal side, I have enough stories to write one heck of a novel, but I’ve learned those stories are best left untold, for now. I’ve really scaled back from sharing that piece of me. So here are some things I have learned as a new actor in the craziest city in the world.
Los Angeles is fun, I mean really, really fun. Rooftop pools, late night parties, mansions, celebrities, red carpets, launch events…all those visions you have of what life is like in Hollywood are pretty true. (Did I tell you about the time I stumbled across Taylor Swift’s private party at a club? I got kicked out by security but not before squealing,
THAT’S TAYLOR SWIFT!!) There is something happening every night, around every corner. I have had some amazing experiences and met some amazing people. Sounds exciting and glamorous, right? Well, kind of and for a while. But it’s also a trap. Successful actors aren’t out partying until 6 a.m. because if they are working that’s about their call time to be on set. They aren’t spending $600 on bottle service at a club because that’s about the cost of an acting class. I really enjoyed my first year here and really loved all the fun and wild things that can only happen in this place, but I also realized to make this work I had to GROW UP. Does that mean I’m not going out or doing what 22 year olds do? No. But I’ve really learned the value of maintaining purpose and focus. Endless summer has to end. I see the trap and I acknowledge the trap. I realize that if my only goal was to be an influencer that gets invited to the best parties and is offered free stuff, Los Angeles is also a good spot for that, but it’s not why I am here and it is not my goal. (Actually I could do a whole blog about influencers and what I have learned out here, it is intriguing and unbelievable! But that is for another day) The next time I run into Taylor Swift at a party I want it to be at the Golden Globes or SAG Awards and the only way that will happen is if I buckle down and work.
Some part of me imagined that giving up modeling and retiring from pageantry would allow me to give up some of the strict exercise and dietary restrictions because actors come in all shapes and sizes. It wasn’t an excuse to let myself go, but it was an excuse to not work so hard at it. I also knew my aim wasn’t to be manufactured perfection, I don’t have the money for all the extras I knew existed on the LA landscape. I was prepared that I might not look like the standard of beauty in this particular place. And I am confident in my own version of beautiful to be OK with all of that. What I wasn’t prepared for is how often I would have the opportunity to audition or go to castings that would require me to invest a great deal of time or energy into myself and my appearance. One of the biggest money auditions I have had was for nothing more than my butt, yep butt only. It was for a network shows intro, think in the vein of True Blood or American Horror Story. You know the quick flash images of snakes, blood, beetles and butts. My butt could have been that butt. BUT…..when my butt didn’t land the job, the reality hit that the gym, chicken breasts and spinach needed to make a come back in my new life. The whole body image thing is an issue out here, because I actually love my softer and curvier post Miss USA body, so I’m working on a happy medium. Because let me tell you the payday on a butt in a split second that airs every week is much larger than you could ever guess. I have to invest in hair, skin and make-up. All those things I was ready to leave behind actually are more important than ever before. So the great GLOW UP of 2020 is underway and when my butt finally makes it, you all will know. Because my family is the kind of family that will hold a party every week to watch the split second intro and cheer, “There’s her butt!” I’m lucky that way.
Finally, to SHOW UP! Here is the deal, this is the most basic rule of professional life or so I thought. Be where you are suppose to be, when you are suppose to be there and do your job. It is Work Life 101, but in a land of 20-somethings, Cristal, clubs and endless traffic you would be shocked at how many times people simply don’t show up. On set, for auditions, interviews, photo shoots….and it’s not just the actors sometimes it’s the crew or the casting agent. This one blew my mind. The reality of the traffic here is true, just like the parties the traffic never dies. So occasionally you get stuck. I leave almost two hours early to make sure I arrive on time to auditions and jobs. Even if that means spending an hour finding a coffee shop and wasting time. When I’m working, I’m working. You won’t be able to reach my via text and I won’t answer your FaceTime. I won’t be scrolling through insta or snapchatting. Believe it or not this rather logical philosophy seems to set me apart from the masses. A photographer recently told me my “Midwest work ethic was showing”. Maybe all those stereotypes are true but I’m the kind of actor who will always show up, prepared and ready to roll. I have no track record to prove it yet but if I find success this will be the key and I’m just going to keep doing it. If I get the job or even just the audition, I will be showing up and be completely present in my work.
There it is year one lessons in three easy to remember steps.
And the biggest lesson I have learned to date. NEVER STOP LEARNING AND DON’T GIVE UP. I have so far to go here it is crazy. It is a game of growth, persistence and mental fortitude. Just when you think you ‘know better’ you will be run over with the Mac Truck of reality, the second you stop investing in educating yourself you will fall behind, the time you miss the audition because you just can’t take another NO could have been the break you’ve been seeking. The minute you stop doing squats your butt will get the opportunity of a lifetime. “Just keep swimming”-Dory