When I first moved to Los Angeles, many moons ago, I had a meeting with a producer at Warner Brothers. His advice to me as a young fresh off-the-boat-actress was to never do extra work or ever be seen as anything but an actor. I took his advice to heart, and went into my tunnel of going at this industry in one direction. Waiting tables- slash waiting for people to pick me to audition for their films. This man generously gave me three days as an extra on his show to obtain my SAG card and looking back at this experience, I recall being invited along with a couple other extra’s to go to a party with the cast and crew. I got to meet a ton of industry people that night, and still after those three days were up, I never did extra work again. I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty dumb for making that choice. I was just too young to realize how important it was to meet people, even if it was through an avenue that wasn’t being an actor.
I look back with fury at myself for listening to such directionless advice. I have since learned that the worst thing anyone in the film industry can do, is to NOT be on set.
Flash-forward ten years later, I packed my bags, and moved to Albuquerque NM, with a new fresh prospective of being OPEN to any opportunities that came my way. One of them was to be Megan Fox’s stand in on a film called “Passion Play”. I booked the job, and embarked on one of my favorite life experiences to this day. Being on set was a pure joy, and I felt blessed to be treated so well by the director and the rest of the crew. In fact on one of the weekends, a bunch of the crew and myself shot a Wonder Woman short. By putting myself on set I was able to do what I really wanted, which was acting.
Almost a year later, I received a phone call from the post production coordinator of “Passion Play” and was asked to come in to read for the lead role in the producers cut of the film. I landed the part, and went on to work with some incredible names in this industry, and all because I had been a “stand in” on the film. The footage never saw the light of day, but the connections I made were priceless, I continue to work with the crew on different projects, and cherish that character I got to play as an actor. No experience is a waste of time; every path leads to new opportunities.
And to think someone told me not to be on set as anything but an actor!
The film industry is changing, and I believe the best way in, is to go around the back door. Find any way to be on set, to meet hard working driven people, and align yourself with those folks. Find people who inspire you, and instead of envying them, learn from them. Success rises in groups, so find people who are heading in the direction you want to be in.
So many people want to tell others not to do something, or that something isn’t possible. I once heard that if Steve Jobs asked someone to do something and they said, “that’s not possible” he would fire them, and find someone who could make it possible. What an incredible outlook on life, to never believe anything is impossible. When our team was creating the app game, so many people said technology wasn’t ready for our idea, but we created programming that could house the invention. I’m so thankful that we didn’t listen to any of this negative advice, and we just charged ahead. Because today we ARE beta testing that game, and our idea has become a reality. All because a group of people gathered together and said “What if” and then turned that question into an answer.
There are so many things I wish I could go back and tell my younger self, but since time travel hasn’t been invented yet, I just keep reminding myself to be open minded. To never say no to an opportunity, even if it might not be my ultimate goal, it might just be the back door entrance to the dream destination!
There will always be Naysayers out there telling you that something can’t or shouldn’t be done and it might be true, there are no guarantees; but ONE guarantee is it is definitely impossible if you don’t try! And I believe in show business, there is only one rule, and that is- that there are NO rules!