"None of us suddenly becomes something overnight. The preparations have been in the making for a lifetime.- Gail Goodwin
July 17th marked my 2 year anniversary here in LA. In some ways it feels like I've been here much longer and in other ways I still feel very green. In the last 24 months, here's what I've learned...

*Warning- I haven't written a blog post outside of my daily activity entries in awhile so this is a long one.*

Man if you have the money, do this from the outset! I wish I could've afforded to be in the class that I'm in a long time ago because it's making such a difference. To be able to hone the skills that you have as well as learn new ones on a consistent basis is necessary. Every other professional stays sharp in their skills by doing whatever it is they do on a daily basis. Lawyers, Doctors, Athletes, Musicians, they all work/practice/perform as much as they can to be at the top of their game. Yet Actors, especially those of us just starting out, don't usually get that opportunity to be working for the majority of the year so when you're not working you NEED to be in class if you want to compete with the girl or guy who will be auditioning for the same role as you. Don't fall into the trap of thinking your talent is so great that you can't use some polishing. Please. If you're not working {whether on film, TV or stage}, get in class.

Day Jobs
Of course, if you have no money you can't afford to be in class or to pay for other necessary actor expenses so getting a day job is vital. While I tried my hand at serving, it wasn't for me. I really like people and I want it to stay that way. If, however, you can overlook the incompetence that ignorant, uneducated, drunk, or just plain rude people exhibit from time to time while in a restaurant or bar, then by all means get yourself a serving or bartending job and make it work for you. There's a reason this is the most popular actor gig- it's flexible! There's also catering, temp work, substitute teaching, extra work {though this should be done sparingly if you really want to keep your days free for auditions}, babysitting, tutoring, security guard positions and production work if you can get on the night shift.

I work as a Night Logger/Transcriber for a production company because I happen to type pretty fast and accurately. It started off as a very unstable, on and off gig transcribing one show and has lead to a consistent job transcribing all the shows they produce so that now I only have a few weeks off throughout the year. It's not my dream day job by any stretch of the imagination. It's somewhat tedious. It keeps me away from my family at night when I'd rather be tucking the boys in and spending time with Stephen but it's a means to an end. It helps pay for acting expenses. Hell with the cost of living out here, it helps pay for household expenses! It keeps my days free for auditions. It has weekends off so I can get some family time. I can make-up any days I need to miss for a shoot. And best of all, I have autonomy. No one's looking over my shoulder micro-managing me which I CAN'T STAND! Even my supervisor is an actor, so he gets it. You gotta use the skill set you have to find the job or jobs that will allow you to do what you need to do to make this work.

I've certainly learned what is worth my time and what isn't. When I'm notified that I have an audition I read the sides or the whole script if available, to see if it's something that I want to INVEST my time in. If so, full speed ahead. If not, I thank the CD for the opportunity and respectfully decline. This isn't foolproof. Sometimes the sides aren't available until you get there and you realize you wouldn't want to do the part even if they paid you. But other times, the audition experience is exhilarating and it's why we come out here- to have an opportunity to play these roles. At my stage in the game I'm mostly auditioning for student films, short films and ultra low-budget indie films, not to mention commercials. Of course TV is where I wanna be but getting in those audition rooms without representation, while not impossible, is no small feat.

Speaking of rep, I'm still on the hunt for a good manager and theatrical agent. I knew this would take some time so I'm not concerned at this point but I do know how important and truly helpful having good representation can be. I mean let's face it, there are PLENTY of TV casting offices that I can mail or drop-off my headshot to tons of times and they're still gonna call in the girl who was submitted by her agent or manager. That's just the way it goes. Certainly there are exceptions to the rule but who wants to rely on those odds? Not me. If I wanna play in that sandbox, I gotta get some theatrical rep on my team.

While I have a lot of colleagues that are talented/nice/sweet/whatever, my actual circle of friends has gotten smaller and tighter. People who I thought were friends turned out to be colleagues only and those who I thought I'd never have a deep connection with because of our differences have turned out to be some of the people I love the most {Tara & Lex for instance}. Having friends I can call back in Houston is wonderful {and I wouldn't trade them for the world} but you really do need a tribe out here to survive. You need people who understand the daily grind that you've chosen to put yourself through because they're doing the same. They understand the anxiety and self-doubt you feel from time to time yet they also get that there's nothing else in the world you'd rather do. Their support is invaluable, especially if you're not getting it at home.

Which leads me to the toughest one...

The homefront
My husband loves me. He loves my drive. He loves my ambition. He loves my steadfast determination to pursue something I want until I get it.

What he doesn't love is LA.

He doesn't love that his salary is the same or very close to what he'd make in the south, yet the cost of living is 2 to 3 times more. He doesn't love that $150,000 can buy us a nice house with space and a yard for our boys somewhere in TX while out here it can barely get you a decent condo. He doesn't love that he has to spend a fortune to fly out to visit his parents while he can just take a road trip if we lived closer. He doesn't love that I have very few Christian friends out here who can encourage me in my walk with Christ, while all my friends back in Houston believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and try to share his love with others. Most importantly, he doesn't love that he's been helping me pursue my dream for the last 2 years while neglecting his. In case you're wondering, he wants to be a Pastor.

All of these things I can understand, especially the last one. There's no way I could've come out here and do what I've done without him being by my side and I want nothing more than for him to feel the utter joy that I feel from pursuing what I love most. I just want him to feel it HERE. Because to ask me to leave LA, the one place I physically NEED to be if I'm going to pursue TV & film work when we just got here only 2 years ago... I can't do it. I just, can't.

So there's that.

A lot has happened in 2 years. Some good, some not so good but it's all a part of my "adventure" I guess. And I share it because I know some of you are going through the same things too so this blog is my way of saying you're not alone. Or maybe it's my way of reaching out and hoping that I'm not alone. Either way, hopefully I'll have more exciting stuff to share by Year 3.
2 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. There is nothing you cannot be, do, or have. I wish you nothing but the best. I believe that you will do great. Keep on keeping on . And keep your eyes on the prize. Xoxo

  2. Brandi Ford Says:

    Thank you for the encouragement Anonymous! I appreciate you reading and your well-wishes. :-)

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