On August 22nd, 2015, I celebrated 13 years of living in Los Angeles! 13 years!
It feels like yesterday that I was still living in Brooklyn with my mom. I was at a real crossroads in my life. After 9/11, I knew that life was too short. And I knew that if I wanted to pursue film and TV fully, that LA was where I needed to be. I was so determined to get to LA, that I purchased a one-way airline ticket and didn’t tell my mom that I was moving until three weeks before my scheduled flight. She was so shocked that I gave her such little notice, but I had to make sure that no one, and I mean no one, had time to change my mind.
And in taking all of yesterday to reflect on and to celebrate the last 13 years, one theme emerged. As Madonna said above at the end of her 1995 music video for “Human Nature”: “Absolutely no regrets.”
I have none. I could easily have spent all of August 22nd lamenting all the losses and disappointments, both real and perceived, that I’ve had in the last 13 years. After all, 13 years is a fucking long time and anyone could easily fall into the dark side of regrets and the dark side of the woulda, coulda, shoulda: I could have worked more as an actor, I should have worked more as an actor, I should be at a better place in my life right now, I should have done this sooner, I should have learned that lesson earlier, if I only I knew back then what I know now, etc. But what a waste of time and energy that is.
Again, absolutely no regrets. I’ve never been one to look back…not for too long at least. There’s nothing I can do to change the past. I can only focus on today and how to make it count.
I spent yesterday celebrating how much I have grown as a person and as an artist. Celebrating the fact that I am STILL in the game and that I haven’t given up. I recently saw some pictures of people I went to college with on Facebook and I was shocked by how much some of them have aged. Aged because they gave up on their dreams. They lost that fire, that spark, that thing that made them youthful. That spirit left and life settled in. They are doing other things with their lives now. No judgments. I cast no
judgments. I’m just making an observation. People that I used to have a crush on in college have aged badly or gained so much weight. They’ve let themselves go. Meanwhile I, who used to be so awkward looking in college, have continued to age beautifully both inside and out. I still feel like a big kid sometimes. I’m still connected to my dreams. I still act, I still write, I still dance. I’m surrounded by a fantastic community of mentors and artists who keep me alive, vibrant and focused. Always have since 2002. Always will until the day I die.
When I first landed in LA, I broke down in tears at LAX. Shit just got real. I arrived. There was no turning back now. I came with one suitcase and a leather CD book containing 200 CD’s. I only knew one person out here. I had no job lined up. I had no apartment lined up. I had no family out here. All I had was my faith and determination that things would all fall into place.
And taking a line of dialogue out of the Madonna mythology, I got into a taxi and said, “Take me to the center of everything.” In the Madonna mythology, she arrived in NYC in 1977 with $35 in her pocket. She told the taxi driver to drop her off in the center of everything. So, he dropped her off in Times Square. My taxi driver dropped me off in
Beverly Hills. Now, I know some of you may be laughing, but the universe was quickly working in my favor. The taxi driver dropped me off at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car on Robertson Blvd., one block south of Wilshire Blvd. Little did I know that located just a couple of blocks south of Enterprise Rent-A-Car was the place that would become my second home for the next seven years, the Beverly Hills Playhouse.
I got my rental car and drove away. I turned on the radio and the first song I heard in LA was Kylie Minogue’s “Love At First Sight”. I’ll never forget that. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day. I was vibrating with excitement. The only person I knew out here was a buddy of mine who I used to work with at a dance club in Manhattan. He was out here with his twin brother on business (I would later discover that their “business” was the escort business and they were marketing themselves as 2-for-1 all-American blond twins!)
They were renting a room at the Ramada Plaza West Hollywood. He said I could stay with him and his brother until I got my own place to live. Twenty four hours later, he got me an interview with the front desk manager and I got hired. I started work a few days later. The universe was taking care of me. Within a week, I found a place to live in West Hollywood. The universe was taking care of me again.
My second day in LA, I ran into someone I graduated with from Vassar. I told him I moved to LA to pursue acting and he immediately recommended the Beverly Hills Playhouse (which is where he was studying) I called the BHP to schedule an interview. They accepted me and I began classes in the first week of September. I sat in the front row, on the edge of my seat, eager to learn and to be inspired. I could feel a palpable energy in the room that I have never felt before in a class (acting class or otherwise) When Gary Imhoff first walked into the room, the class cheered and gave him a standing ovation. I wasn’t expecting that at all!
I don’t remember if I stood up and cheered as well or if I remained in my seat. But what I DO remember was that as soon as Gary settled into his seat, I leaned back into my seat and I said to myself, “This is my teacher. This is my home.” I just felt it in my heart and in my gut. After the first day of class ended, I walked north on Wilshire Blvd. and saw the Enterprise Rent-A-Car! I immediately became emotional because I knew that the universe was taking care of me. It was a cool moment of experiencing something coming around full circle.
Everything was falling into place. LA was new and exciting. The weather was great. Palm trees galore. I had a place to live. I had a Plan B job supporting my Plan A game. I found an amazing second home at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Kelly Clarkson was crowned the first American Idol on September 4th, 2002 (and honestly, her win was the only one that truly mattered) Then, within a month, I hated LA. And I would end up hating LA for the first year because I experienced everything from home sickness to hating public transportation to hating that nothing was 24/7 like in NYC. It wasn’t until I got my first car around my first year anniversary, for FREE, that I fell in love with LA. Having a car really turned my feelings around.
13 years later and I still love LA. LA is my home. I’m part of that very small percentage of New Yorkers who love LA and prefer it to NYC. When I fly into LAX, I always feel good to be back home.
Absolutely no regrets. I don’t regret calling every single agent in the agent book in 2002 to receive representation. I don’t regret walking into casting offices to drop off my headshot and resume. I don’t regret any career administration I’ve executed. I don’t regret putting one foot in front of the other. I don’t regret any scenes I’ve put up in acting class in the last 13 years. I don’t regret the personal and professional choices I’ve made. I don’t regret the people I cut out of my life in order to pursue my career. I don’t regret the people I cut out of my life who were not part of my career bus. I don’t regret the friends I’ve made and the friends I’ve lost. I don’t regret all the times I’ve danced in stores, supermarkets, beaches, streets, subway platforms, trains, bus stations, parks, etc. I don’t regret all the times I ran lines to myself in public places. I don’t regret all the times I rehearsed a scene in public with my various scene partners. I don’t regret rehearsing the diner scene from “Biloxi Blues” at the Silver Spoon Diner in West Hollywood and causing such a mess with my amazing scene partner that management banned us forever. Ironically, the Silver Spoon Diner is no longer around, but I am 🙂
I’m still here! I’m still in the game! Yesterday was a celebration of all the good things I have experienced here in LA. A celebration of all the wins and all the growth I’ve experienced. I started my day by doing DanceFitWalk at the Rose Bowl at 8am. I danced my ass off for an hour and a half with my DFW team. Then, I went home and showered and went to the beach to not only celebrate my anniversary, but to join a friend who was celebrating her birthday at the beach as well.
Then, I went to a restaurant and had an early dinner. Then, I bought champagne and put it in the fridge. And then, I ended the night dancing away with a cool friend I’m getting to know.
Celebrating these 13 years was about joy and happiness!
See you soon 14th year anniversary!