On June 17th, 2016 I left the East Coast for good. On my own, I had never been further than Texas. Just a couple weeks earlier, I was working at a (now defunct) call center , and wondering where to go next. I had big dreams of California, and I was saving my money bit by bit. At that time Los Angeles and the West Coast were just thoughts in my head. LA was a song. It was a still photo as my screensaver. I was always reading entertainment history books and following “The Trades” in order to acclimate myself. I had this dog-eared copy of The Mailroom that I constantly poured over. I was ready to move on.
When I arrived in San Diego, I was on this high- I was starting a new life and I was so happy to be one step closer to my dreams.
One year later: It has been crazy, and I have had this feeling I’ve had when I ride the train, and it gets stuck on the track a short ways from the destination. I think (to date) that this has been the hardest year I’ve ever had. I’ve dealt with lots of rejection, frustration and loneliness. There were some late nights where I have debated packing my bags and heading- not home necessarily, but a place that’s easier to exist. Relatives have been not-so-subtly calling me over to their neck of the woods. My current boss jokingly encouraged me to stay “forever”- A sign of her appreciation, I’m sure.
I’ll be honest in this post- it’s been hard and I know things won’t get any easier from here on out. I’ve had to make some really tough decisions, and think- Do I really want to do this? I mean- really? While California has so much to offer, it’s expensive as hell to live- and I want to be a part of a glamour industry…which means embarrassingly low wages for the years to come, and lot’s of work and long hours. For ages I’ve dreamed of tossing my fast-food uniform for good, but it’s not yet the time, and still won’t be for a bit. I know for certain I would have to work a second job to support myself, and realized that I’d have to be pretty uncomfortable for the next few years.
Yes, I’ve felt my fair share of shame: While many of my peers are working regular jobs, and moving on to bigger and better things, I’ve barely started. With each marriage, engagement, and fabulous job post on social media, I could feel my ovaries crumble just a bit more and my patience wear thinner. I’ve found it hard to explain myself and my crazy dreams to family, friends, and others who ask me “What do you do?” or “What are you going to do?”
But with time, I’ve had to learn not to worry about anyone else but myself. My life is my own, and I have my own timeline. Things will happen. About 2 months ago on a visit to LA, I attended a panel about creating a diverse media landscape. Little did I know that two panelists in particular had similar backgrounds as me. They didn’t come from money. They were women of color, and they mentioned similar experiences to the ones I had. And they both had a long, hard slog to where they are now. One woman didn’t become an assistant at a major talent agency until she was in her late twenties. When I listened to their experiences, I didn’t feel so alone.
I’m not really sure what is going to happen with me the next couple of months. Yeah, it’s crazy and I’m not completely sure how things are going to turn out. I have no idea what the next couple of months hold and it scares me. But sometimes, you just have to make the jump.
ADRIANA, THE CINEMA SOLOIST