I'm still giving away one of my Boundless bags worth R1500.00 ($80). All you have to do is click below!
Okay back to the topic at hand! So if you read last week’s post you will see that I spoke about 5 of the top 15 things that I did in my first two years in L.A that worked for me. This week I share the last TEN. Surprise! I know I said I would share only five for now but I got such a great response from you all that I decided to go all in this week! So here they are… the last ten. Please subscribe to my blog at the bottom if this feed so that I can keep you updated with my weekly posts. Next week I'm posting about "How I used acting school to get my first manager and agent! :)
6. Take care of your inner life
Living in Los Angeles took a toll on me at times. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it very much and I still do. However, just like living anywhere else in the world it came with its challenges. I have to say the biggest challenge (besides not having a car to get around, but that’s a story for another topic) was not letting the materialism of it all grow on me. LA has some of the most beautiful “things” money can buy. I mean the homes, the cars and the lifestyle. The list goes on and on and you see it every day. What you also see, which they sometimes neglect to show you in the movies, is the homelessness and the hardship. It takes some believing in yourself and believing in something greater than you to get through some of the more difficult times. The term “starving artist” gets its truth from real life situations. Although I can’t say I ever starved because my parents wouldn’t ever let that happen to me, there were other reasons I struggled. As you know acting is not an easy industry to get into, it takes a couple of auditions that can really bruise your spirit sometimes especially during the times when your bank account isn’t happy with you haha. So I always made sure that I had different spiritual practices to take care of myself. I would go for walks, work out, read, meditate, journal (I have lots of journals) and I would occasionally watch videos of people who inspire me like Oprah or Brendon Burchard (I even participated in one of his courses on personal freedom). I like to do a variety of different practices for each day or some multiple times a week, because every day is different. Don’t ever forget you, you are so important in your life and while working, and making sure things get done matter, so do you! You have to be a priority in your life, there is only one of you.
(Picture: After working out and meditating I would read and Journal. Book is "The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard)
7. It’s okay to ask for help
For some reason, some people think asking for help is a sign of weakness in a certain area. It’s not! I can’t count how many times I had to ask for help about a variety of things out here. Sometimes I wouldn’t even ask, people would just offer to help me out. And me? Well I have a blog for goodness sake, that has to say something about how much I enjoy helping people out. Although I can’t always be helpful I try and find areas where I really can lend a helping hand or a word of advice. Artists out here are sometimes very cagey about information. How’d you get to LA? Who’s your agent? How did you get an agent? Where should I go to if I want to meet certain people? Where’d you buy that shirt? I mean ANYTHING. I think for the most part some artists are cagey about giving out information because they’re trying to keep their reputations intact with the people they know or just because they don’t want to be the person to go to for information. Need advice about applying for your O1 Visa? Ask so-and-so. Yeah it can be annoying to feed information to people when you had to find it out on your own but I believe that the good that you do really does come back to you tenfold. And here’s the thing, if you’ve genuinely researched and tried your best based on the information that you’ve found but feel like you need to know something to navigate LA, ASK! That way you can compare what you know to what others are doing and take an informed decision. I have taken plenty of informed decisions and the best one I ever made was deciding to first come to LA to study before working here and that’s because I researched and asked as many questions as I could to anyone who knew anything about living here. True story: Gioya (my bestfriend In LA) and I met in Orlando a year before I studied in LA, we were part of an arts convention there. I inboxed her months after the Orlando convention while I was back in South Africa to ask about what I should bring from SA that I will absolutely need that the US doesn’t have and through that random conversation she offered to give me a place to live for a month so that I could properly get used to the area to find my own place. All because I asked a question! I got accommodation and a new best friend.
(Pictures: Shots of Gioya and I).
8. Make friends who add to your growth
Oh my gawsh! I can’t emphasize this enough! Choose your friends don’t let them chose you. Friends aren’t family. You get to pick ‘em. How great is that? Out of any of the awesome people living in the City of Angels you actually get to choose and they get to choose you (or pass, but that’s not the point that I’m making here haha) and you get to have a fulfilling friendship! Seriously though, that’s really the foundation of how a great friendship starts. Two individuals deciding, you know what? Yeah, I want to keep you in my life, you’re good for me and I want to be good FOR YOU TOO. It goes both ways. And that brings me to some friendships in LA, there tends to be an omission of the give and take principle which has worked well for centuries. Now I’m not saying that you should count every single thing you do for someone but you should be able to mention something that a friend is adding to your life and the good SHOULD outweigh the bad. You should want the best for yourself, and even though friendships go through their ups and downs, there should be growth in the friendship a sense of “Wow, look at how different our lives are. We’ve come so far.” I’ve met some amazing people out here and most of them I still keep in touch with but not every one of them is my friend. I love people and I’m the kind of person who holds a conversation so if I’m having a conversation with you I’m going to be interested and engaged and that’s one of the characteristics of someone that I can have a great friendship with. And that’s just one of the ways I’ve chosen my friends and without knowing it maybe that’s how they chose me too. There are just some things that I have zero tolerance for: 1 Being friends with someone who’s efforts show that they aren’t interested in being friends with me. 2 Being friends with someone that I learn absolutely nothing from emotionally or spiritually or intellectually etc. Make your own list to help you and start really thinking of what you’re willing to give and what you’re ready to start getting (not superficial things) out of your friendships, this kept me sane in Hollywood.
9. Keep your mind focused on the bigger picture. Don’t take every “opportunity”
Oh boy if I had a dollar for every free gig that was presented to me as an “opportunity”, I would be the “It girl” of free gigs. Now don’t get me wrong, you’re GOING TO HAVE TO do something for free if you are starting out in your career in LA. That’s just a fact, unless you’re super lucky or you’re going to LA already having booked a paying job. My bringing up this topic is in advising you about which opportunities to take (which is usually what a manager does too, so I’m kind of your manager for a minute). Think about your ultimate goal, think about it clearly and measure up every opportunity to that. As an actress I occasionally get opportunities to do modeling work, and I ask questions about what kind of work it will be and based on the kind of actress I want to be known as, I measure up taking up the opportunity or not. If any opportunity that is presented to me which isn’t acting has the potential to affect my acting career in a negative way presently or in the future, I just don’t do it. That’s also the difference between wanting to be famous just to be famous and wanting to be a respected artist in your chosen career field. Also, taking too many opportunities takes away time from the focus that you should actually be putting into becoming more successful in what you’re truly in LA for. Have fun, give opportunities a shot but be calculated and smart about it.
10. A visa ends, work hard to get the next one.
So obviously this one is for those of you on my blog who are foreigners. I started in LA with a visa of an acting student in 2014 - 2015, then I went from being an acting student to being a working acting student in 2015 – 2016 and now my visa specification is that of a working actress/artist, PERIOD. That’s what’s called an O1 Visa (alien of extraordinary ability). From my first visa to the one I have now took A LOT of work. I started out in South Africa as a TV host of three shows for a community channel and I haven’t looked back since. Everything I have ever done from 2012 to 2016 was included in my petition for my artist visa and on top of that I had to make sure that in the year that I had, as a working acting student, that I booked work for the next three years (2017 – 2020) in the States, a HUGE requirement of the visa, so that I can continue to build my career in a city I truly love. I can’t wait to start the work I have coming up. That meant I had no time to mess around doing things that didn’t lead to my ultimate goal of becoming a working actress. There are many ways to follow your dream as a foreigner in LA and I learned that simply by keeping my mind in the right place. I lived my early twenties in LA so it was easy to get distracted but I didn’t and now I’m 25 and I get to do what I’m meant to be doing with my art all because I planned for it and believed that I could do it, and with that belief came a lot of friends and people along the way.
11. Take lots of pictures!
This is more of a fun topic for me because it makes me so happy to think about, so don’t take this one too seriously! I love taking pictures lately and most of that has to do with the fact that my S.O is a photographer but IT ALSO has to do with the fact that I love having pictures to remind me of certain times in my life. When I started out in LA I wasn’t sure where this journey would take me on the way to where I want to be in my career so I didn’t really care too much about taking pictures because I just saw it as another time in my life, I was excited but I wasn’t really where I wanted “to be” yet, blah, whatever. I was soooooo wrong! I’m so glad I have friends who are interested in taking pictures and selfies etc because now I have some of the best memories saved to my pc or Facebook haha. Life is a journey and I have learned that when you embrace every bit of the journey no matter how painful or joyous, there’s always something to take away from the experience and sometimes pictures are the thing to take away too. So take pictures, take pictures of everything you want to hold on to if it doesn’t take away from the experience too much because the experience is what you want to remember so try not to interrupt whatever you’re experiencing by over-doing the selfies.
(Pictures: 1.At my apartment before a fun night out. 2.At totally different birthday party at Loews Hotel in Hollywood. 3.Birthday party in Silverlake.
12.Set goals that are in line with now and the future
I have to admit, most of my goals are more long term than short-term, but lately I have been paying attention to my short term goals too. Living life as an artist is always filled with a feeling that your life is a series of unexpected events. For example, last month I had no idea that I would start a blog. I knew that I missed writing but I didn’t want to start another screenplay just yet. One of my long term goals is to start a Youtube Channel for my “My Life is Art” but I wanted to know my audience before I did that and hence the blog. This is a short term goal that is leading to a long term goal of mine that I have been meaning to start on as soon as I get my artist visa which I now have, the Youtube Channel. This channel will be helpful for my acting career too because casting directors will be able to see that I am a working artist who is active with other forms of expressing myself as an artist and that is always a good thing. So my Youtube channel goal is setting up my acting goal really well too. And everything I did in LA in my first two years has set up my blog really well because I now have so much to write about that I can cover here in addition to my Youtube Channel. All my goals (of which these are just a few) are working together in building my ultimate future goals. Little milestones are what build up a life of work that you can be proud of and that will work in your favour. So take some time to really think through the goals you have for LA, utilize all the resources available to you on your way to achieving those goals. One of the resources I used were red carpet events around L.A, this is going to be such a fun series/topic to tell you guys about in the future, there are some fun pictures too, yet another set up for my new goal of a successful blog.
13. Agents and Managers
I will not be able to cover everything I know about this in a short paragraph so the aim here is to give my artist friends, especially actors a brief introduction to how it really works in L.A. This is for those of you who are starting out from having no agent at all, I will go in more depth about this topic in later blog posts. So first, come to LA prepared. RESEARCH is the name of the game. I must be honest, I came to LA not really knowing much about how to land a manager and as a result my first interview which was with Discover Management (Google them) was a huge fail on my part BUT you live and you learn. How did I get an interview with a big deal management company like DM in the first place? That’s a story for much later. For now here are some things to know about agents and managers. They want you to be trained. They want you to have a resume they can work with so start acting ASAP. Act in school productions, in short films where they pay you nothing (you have to start somewhere, I’m still doing short films, I even produced some of my own, even with all my experience I’m still working as much as I can), they want you to be alive and well so do things that keep you active aka find a hobbie, they want you to sound “standard American” but keep your foreign accent because it’s “interesting”, they want you to take yourself seriously but not too seriously, in other words keep working on your craft and attend classes but ENJOY THE JOURNEY. Agents also want you to stay current so watch the kind of shows that are on TV today so that you are familiar with writers and directors and even better, with CASTING DIRECTORS. The top things you must have are headshots (LA and New York Headshots are VERY different, RESEARCH) and a good resume (a couple of short films, a play or two and acting courses or classes you’ve attended). Research how to approach an agent or manager. DO NOT GO FOR THE TOP FIVE AGENCIES, start small, trust me and you won’t waste your time. If you’re looking for a manager in LA, BE IN LA. If you’re looking for a manager in New York, BE IN NEW YORK. I can’t stress this enough, you have to be where the industry is. There are too many other talented actors in LA for an agent or manager to pursue you if you’re not in town. I was fortunate enough to sign with an excellent manager and agent. I was introduced to my agent by my manager, so in my opinion go for a manager first. If you’re going to be in LA I’m guessing you want to be in TV or movies, so make an acting reel! Agents and managers want to see you on camera, and they want to see if you can act and handle camera presence. I have been out of LA for 8 months while waiting for new visa which I now have, and when I go back I will still be under their management because I’ve proven myself to be an artist of value. People work hard for people who work hard for themselves, so do the work, work smart and I believe you’ll find what you’re looking for in this city. Again, more about this in a later, more detailed blog post.
Another burning topic. Auditions ARE YOUR JOB as an actor just as much as jobs that you’ve booked are considered work. You have to “show up” to both. By show up, I mean you have to be mindful and present and enjoy it. I know it can be hard when you go to audition after audition, but here’s what I did that worked for me. I must’ve gone to over 45 auditions before I booked my first short film, it was a supporting part. I loved it, it was great and it was just before I had to leave the States to go back to South Africa and wait for my next visa. Auditions aren’t always easy to get. I was fortunate because I had a manager who worked hard and supported me immensely so I auditioned often but I know people who didn’t audition or book for a year straight and the work that they did do is work they found through other avenues (writers or filmmakers that they are friends with who gave them a part). So I'm always grateful for an audition and I only auditioned for roles I was comfortable with. When I got an audition, I would do my best by ALWAYS preparing and I would be on time every time, look the part, arrive, do the work, show the director/casting director who I am and leave with a smile. Then I would LET-IT-GO and move on to the next thing. This is why it is so important to have other things to do other than acting, I believe this is really important and therapeutic especially for the days you don’t book the part that you really wanted. I will cover this topic further and in more detail in later blog posts.
(Pictures of me doing some acting, these photos are called stills).
This is the most important thing I did that got me to where I am today. I believed. First you MUST believe that you can and that you will! It's easier to believe that you can do something than it is to believe that YOU WILL. For a long time I knew that I could be a great actor, I knew it, but knowing it wasn't enough. I had to believe that it will happen. There came a time when I was in LA when I had to start believing that I will be who I want to be and that that person already exists in me. All I have to do is the little things each day that I needed to do with discipline and before I know it I will be where I want to be, doing what I believe I can do and doing it with people I want to do it with. There is a reason you desire the beautiful things that you desire for your life, the experiences that you are working towards are not in vain, you deserve the good things that your heart flutters for so don't ever give up. Believe and act on those beliefs. I desired to be an actress in LA since I was a young girl and now it's a second home to me.
Thank you for reading and thank you for all your art! In my next blog post I will be covering the topics:
How I used acting school to get my first manager and agent.
Following week's post - Two places I've lived in LA and why I loved the areas.
The week after that - How to get around LA and save, whether you have a car or not.
So much more to come!
PS: Don't forget to follow me on social media. Xx
I've also thought of acting as such an amazing job... you definitely have to have tough skin to be in that industry, so hats off to you! I wish you luck in your acting career, keep working hard : )
Such a wonderful blog Anele and I am already a big fan of the life you are choosing to create. I was born in Kenya and I have followed the path least travelled as well. I live in Europe and although we are in different industries I appreciate you and the awesome creative work you are doing so much. Definitely looking forward to seeing how your journey unfolds! Know that you are a special and blessed woman - be bold and expect the world to support you in this great conquest.
5/30/2017 02:21:29 pm
Your blog is full of wonderful insight! A few things that stood out where "you have to be a priority in your life, there is only one you." I wish I would have followed this advise 30 years ago, for the sake of my health. Also make friends who grow you... and finally, the challenge of "believe you can, believe you will". I plan to apply that one to my current goal/dream.
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