Every Stars Journey Starts Somewhere

Captain’s Blog: Stardate - 010119.1

The three of us sat gabbing on the sofa, waiting for the beautiful ball of Swarovski crystal to drop on Times Square, catching up on the months it had been since we saw our good friend. Work, travel, and simple timing had kept us from seeing each other since maybe even the end of August. Around 15 minutes to NYC midnight, I excused myself to take a call from my Mom.

“We saw you! It just aired.”

This fall I made the move to LA. I left both of the desk jobs I had in Chicago, one of which I had for almost ten years. Both were good jobs that, despite getting to know Chicago’s brown line REALLY well, were pretty easy to maintain. I was grateful to have the work and the flexibility to pursue acting in my home town.

The decision to leave Chicago was a difficult one to make. It came with a lot of unknowns, and it can be hard, especially for a person outside of the business, to know what kind of metrics to use to measure success. I did my best to explain my strategy to my family, knowing that there would be some fear and skepticism along the way.

My first few months in LA I explored several different avenues. I took a number of workshops through my union and through The Actor’s Fund to meet people in the business and try to get the “inside scoop” into my new market. I followed up on leads and took lunches with Chicago ex-pats, and I explored SAG-AFTRA background work.

Working background the first couple of months in LA was an incredible experience for me because I learned a number of really wonderful things. I’m no stranger to being on sets in Chicago, but I wanted to nose around on sets in Hollywood and get a read on the flow of the business out here. 

I walked onto the Paramount Studios lot feeling ready for my close up, Mr. deMille! Knowing that I was walking on the hallowed ground where some of my favorite stars had walked while on my way to work was just an exhilarating feeling. I know I was not going their to speak on film (yet) but it was still electric. 

My final gig before coming back to Chicago for the holidays was on an “American Idol” promo. The shoot was fun, and I was fortunate enough to be upgraded to principal along the way. This had happened to me before and is one of the fun surprises that can come from this kind of work. 

I came home for Thanksgiving with stories of celebrity set sightings, early morning drives through the valley, and revealing that I would come home after a twelve hour work day and be tired, but no where near as exhausted as I could be from even a four hour shift at a desk job. Still, I was still not convinced that my move made sense to everyone in my life. Fast forward to New Year’s Eve.

“We saw you! It just aired.” There was excitement. There was joy. There was pride. No matter how many LEDs were glowing in Times Square, I felt certain that the lightbulb I needed to beam had finally illuminated.

As the promo says…every star’s journey starts somewhere.