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The Power of Taking a Break

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When I heard that Ms. In the Biz was coming out of hiatus, I was incredibly excited. This community of women has always inspired me, has given me a wonderful community of friends and collaborators, and I love being the Assistant Editor-in-Chief of this site. Additionally, headlines from the past year and a half have proven more than ever how important it is for women in entertainment (and all industries) to band together in support of each other. I can’t wait to read all of our contributors’ pieces moving forward, we are at a fascinating and important time in history and our industry!

That said, I’m also glad we took a break. Funnily enough, the hiatus Ms. In the Biz took coincided with my own personal break from acting. In late 2016, I made the decision to take a step back from auditioning to focus on the feature film (To the New Girl) I am producing. I even recast my own role in that film, something I never thought I would do!

Having a blast on set with the crew of To the New Girl

It turned out to be exactly what I needed to readjust my perspective on my personal goals, and to make sure I wasn’t spreading myself too thin running around town going on auditions so that I could devote all my energy towards making something I would be proud of. I realized a lot of things during this break, the most important of which was that taking time to shift my focus allowed me to remember how much I still love working in film. After a decade of viewing my place in this industry through a sort of tunnel vision, taking on a different role allowed me to view things in a way that reinvigorated my energy and made me excited about living in Los Angeles again.

I love acting, but I found that going on co-star auditions started to feel creatively very unfulfilling. I also started to feel like the state of the world, as well as my own maturing process, was calling me towards taking more creative control of my work and to make things that I felt contributed something of value.

If you’re feeling a bit stuck or uninspired, here’s a few ideas to help you get unstuck:

  • Get a day planner and use it to track how you’re feeling about your job/life on a daily basis. If you’re unhappy about something more often than you’re happy about it, change it!
  • Remind yourself that you have one precious, beautiful life to live and you’re allowed to change things up whenever you see fit. Change is not failure, it is forward momentum.
  • Try changing your job, but instead of doing a 180-degree shift in an entirely new field I’d recommend going for a “90-degree” shift into a different role in the field you’re already familiar with! You’ll have the same contacts, the same experience in your area of expertise, but will get to look at things from a new point of view!
  • Do something that requires you to focus outward rather than inward. You’ll feel really good about the work you’re doing if it helps other people.
  • Take on a new, just-for-fun, activity. My friends recently asked me to be on their evening Kickball league… I had no idea how to even play kickball, and I’m having a blast! It’s nice to do something different that is totally unrelated to work.

What I found I love most about producing is that I get to guide and empower other creative people throughout a project, and really give them an opportunity to shine and use their talents. Often as actors, we spend so much time focusing on ourselves out of necessity, and I think that finding ways to shift that energy into a focus on other people is incredibly important and freeing. In fact, I’d say that seeing and facilitating other people doing what they love is what makes me the happiest. Because of that realization, I’m planning on focusing my upcoming Ms. in the Biz pieces on this idea of lifting and empowering creative women. Stay tuned!

Laura Hunter Drago

About Laura Hunter Drago

Laura Hunter Drago is a producer, writer, and actress living in Los Angeles, California. When she’s not making art, she works in marketing & web design. Laura is a proud SAG-AFTRA member and guest speaker at the SAG Conservatory, is the assistant editor-in-chief of Ms. in the Biz, and is the co-founder of New Girl Pictures. She also likes baking, obsessing over Olympic ice dancers, and having long conversations with her dog Buffy. She dislikes being bored. Most recently, Laura is finishing up post-production on her first feature, To The New Girl and hosting a podcast about women in the entertainment industry called Creative Herstories.