I have been acting since I was a teenager. No matter what went on in my life… the ups, the downs, the highs, the lows… the circumstances of my life never changed my feeling for acting. What does change however, is how you are viewed and how you view your career as you begin to age.
When I was 18, they wanted me in a bathing suit. They don’t anymore. When I was 18, they just wanted me to giggle and be sweet. Now, I can be characters that interest me. So although it may seem like from the outside it’s a business for being young, for some that’s not always the best place to be. I suppose for others, those were the glory years. For me, they were the less interesting years. So I started to wonder how people feel about show business and where they fit in at every age. Most of my friends stopped acting, but some of us got on the bus and never got off. Some of us will keep going until we are living in the shoes of Betty White and Elaine Stritch. So I decided to write about where actors are at in different decades of the business.
I’m going to start with Rene Michelle Aranda.
She is barely 24 and I wouldn’t have enough room to write all the wonderful things I think about her and the amazing career that is not only in front of her but already here. I know of Rene because we are Alumnis of the same acting program at LACC Theatre Academy and although there are many years between us, the strength of that program and the magic that happens there is how I first got to know who she is. Later I was cast in a film she was producing (yes, I said producing a film at a very young age – an opportunity she was also given by a fellow LACC alumni).
I sat with Rene to ask her what Hollywood and acting look like at 24 in the year 2015, I’m curious about her point of view and perhaps a young actor can learn from some of her steps to help get on their own path. So here’s Rene…
She was raised in a town about forty miles outside of Los Angeles. She wanted to act since she was a kid and that led her into the drama department at her Junior High School. She became obsessed and didn’t go to the high school she was supposed to but instead went to AYALA High School because she knew they had a better theater department. It was a competitive environment and as far as Rene was concerned she was already starting her career!
When she graduated High School her father told her about Fred Fate, a teacher he had taken class with years before who now ran the Theatre Academy at LACC. Rene decided to forgo an undergrad program, auditioned for LACC, got accepted and never turned back. One day at school, Fred introduced her to a past student who was working on a film that was in need of background artists. Rene said “yes”, this decision eventually led her directly to the position she has now at Plus Entertainment as both an actress and a producer. What really stands out to me about Rene is she is willing to do whatever it takes to tell a story. She doesn’t always have to be the actor. She loves the idea of being a part of the process of story telling and believes every aspect of it is important.
When Rene graduated from LACC she didn’t feel she was ready for an agent and mainstream Hollywood. She wanted to build her film resume so she started self-submitting and doing student films, low budget films and then began to create her own projects. It was because of creating her own work that the people at Plus Entertainment took an interest. She had a Facebook connection with them since the background work and they were watching her posts. (Incidentally, use Facebook to promote yourself in a positive way, it can be your own personal publicist, be smart about it!). They were so impressed by the work she was already creating, they asked her to line produce one of their films. There was a last minute loss of someone on their team and they reached out to Rene, timing and preparation meet once again. They immediately saw her work ethic and asked her to work on the next two projects. By project number four she became an in-house producer and appeared on screen in several of their films.
Rene also has her own company, “Starpark Studios” she produces and self-creates under this company, as well as a casting division called Clear Canvas Casting! Today, actors have several different areas to put their energy into, she decided that she would not go mainstream but instead take a different turn and work the indie route, the festivals, self create and develop a resume of work that she is proud of. Don’t get me wrong, she is working her way to the top of the mountain. But she believes there are other ways than just through the networks/studios to get there, she is taking a route that didn’t exist twenty years ago.
This is Rene’s career. Her roots are always in theater but she is now focusing most of her energy in creating work through Plus Entertainment or her own freelance projects. Her mottos are “respect the network”, “find your team and stick together”, and most importantly, “it has to start with wanting it”. It is Rene’s “wanting it” that pushes her and keeps her humble, appreciative, grateful, and on the path she belongs. So Bravo, Rene and I look forward to seeing what the next decade looks like for you!