The infamous song lyric “If I can make there, I’ll make it anywhere. It’s up to you. New York, New York” can easily apply to Los Angeles, especially if you’re pursuing a career in a creative field.
When I moved to LA in 2004, I was a museum educator with a hunger to stretch my creative wings. Painting was always my outlet but I wanted to try something new, like acting. I actually dabbled in it when I was in college, but I wanted to really dive in and see what it was all about.
I’ve always been an all or nothing type of girl, so I went all in with headshots, agents, managers, auditions, callbacks and bookings. I was non-stop. Seeing actresses like Roselyn Sanchez and Salma Hayek were a huge motivating factor. Within a year, I was working on SAG projects, films and national commercials. It was a great time.
Until it wasn’t.
I soon lost the passion, which is pretty much a requirement when pursuing such a career. I felt that many of the auditions were stereotypes, and were not the stories I wanted to tell. The pink lenses came off and I needed to make a decision.
It was during that time (around 2009-10) that I decided to take a break from the acting world and start a blog about the art scene here. It was my way of telling my own stories. This decision led me into a whole new, amazing, exciting adventure that changed my life. I knew one day I’d meet Salma or Roselyn, but I never thought we’d be enjoying a ceviche at lunch while talking about what it means to be a Latina woman.
I was recently invited by Alegria Magazine to El Caserio in LA to celebrate their cover story about Roselyn Sanchez. She shared her experiences about her career in the arts and the ups and downs since her move to the City of Angels. This experience made me think a lot about my life and the interesting career path I’ve taken since moving to LA. Here’s what I learned:
5 career lessons I learned in LA
Surround yourself with like-minded women
I’ve surrounded myself with hard-working, ethical, authentic women with a passion for dreaming big and making something out of nothing. I thrive in that kind of energy, and have made sure to stick with a tribe who have mastered the art pursuing their goals and uplifting others along the way. Stick with people who get you, have your back and love you for who you are (crazy and all).
Related: 5 characteristics of a Boss Lady
Rejection can be blessing in disguise
Between the art and acting worlds, I’ve tasted rejection many times. And guess what? No big deal. It wasn’t meant to be. It was those rejections that led me to greater things. As Roselyn Sanchez during our lunch, “Rejection is your protection.” Amen.
Know your worth
It’s already a known fact that women (especially Latinas) don’t get paid as much as men. In the creative field, it’s an epidemic. Before saying yes to that not-so-inspiring pay, consider what you have to offer and the time it will take and negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Men don’t give this little skill a second thought. Why should we?
Trust your gut
If a job or a person doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore the signs.
I’m all for sticking with something you’re passionate about. I have friends who pursued acting with a vengeance and are actually doing pretty well. I have others who did not have such luck but refuse to see anything outside of that industry. Had I been closed to the idea of blogging, I would not be able to be part of today’s world of storytelling nor would I have been part of the movement online to change the way Latinos/as are stereotyped.
Photo: David Martin Junior Photography for Alegria.