People think they’re ready for LA but they have NO idea. Moving here is a culture shock. Before moving I loved being attached to a project at any capacity because it was another opportunity to do what I love….Here, it’s business. Every project, every relationship, every tweet, post and even hairstyle is business. I like to say “In everything, a lesson.” Here are a few lessons that I’ve learned from my time in Los Angeles.
It doesn’t always have to be about getting ahead
I had to check myself last month. I auditioned for a project and they “decided to go caucasian for the leads.” They liked me, however, and wanted me to be a part of the project so they gave me another role. It was a musical (and I got to wear a top hat!) so it was right up my alley…..but there wasn’t anything from it that I could use for my reel. I started thinking “oh, this is a waste of time”….”this won’t do anything to advance my career.”….etc. For a moment, I completely ignored the fact that I met a bunch of really cool people and had an absolute blast….which is a big part of why I enjoyed acting in the first place. We get so bogged down with “what if I don’t book this project?” “will my agent drop me?”….”will this make my reel stand out?”….”when will I get my next gig?”….all of which are important considerations, but shouldn’t stand in the way of us enjoying our journey.
There’s more to “being ready” than thinking you are…
There’s still a lot to take into consideration when you actually book a nice gig. I did a show at The Geffen Playhouse over the holidays….EIGHT shows a week plus working full time. I was robbing Peter to pay Paul, from a time perspective, and while my boss was cool, he was lowkey waiting to see if my work would suffer. I had an audition for a show one Saturday morning (right before I had to race to do a matinee show…followed by an evening show) and was completely exhausted. I didn’t book and I understand because if I felt that tired, I’m sure that’s what came across……and that was a HUGE lesson for me. “Being ready” doesn’t just mean that you’re talented or that you’re the best in your acting class….it also means that you’re able to balance all that comes with the territory.
One of my mentors (a film writer/director) told me a story about a young lady he’d given the lead role to in a project. She wasn’t able to pace herself. She burned herself out early in the process and by the time she got to the scenes where she really needed to be at her best, she was completely depleted. Not a good look…..Now granted, it’s hard to learn how to pace yourself when you’re not even in the race (without experience) but these are all things we have to consider when considering our careers and those tier jumps. There’s so much more to it than red carpets and wrap parties.
You can learn more from listening than you can from talking
Ok…this wasn’t actually a lesson that I learned in LA, but it’s still an important part of the journey. At a networking event, I was sitting and chatting with one of the top casting directors to ever put her mark on the industry. A young lady came up and gave the casting director her headshot. The casting director, true-to-form, gave her some very candid feedback. The young lady was wearing a sequin top on her headshot (because she was a “superstar”…her words, not mine) and it wasn’t flattering nor did it do anything to make a casting director want to bring her in to read for a project. Rather than listening to the advice the casting director, who has cast some of the best films over the last 20 years, was freely offering, she argued that she knew best. The whole scene reminded me of those situations on American Idol where someone would completely bomb and then tell Simon he didn’t know anything about “talent.”
Now, each person will have their own preferences. Another casting director might have seen the sequin top and adored it….or not even been phased by it. However, to argue with someone who is freely giving you advice that you sought, is not only rude but completely unwise. Even if she thought the casting director had no clue what she was talking about, she possibly did irreparable harm by fussing about something that was completely ridiculous and not worth it. She spent so much time arguing that she completely missed out on what could have been invaluable information.
Welp, those are three of the many things that I’ve learned since I’ve been here. I’ll be sure to share more throughout the year. Hope these were helpful. Please feel free to share any lessons that you’ve learned as well! #eachoneteachone