Presently: Back-Pedaling

I need to retract a few statements I’ve made both on this blog and in person.

Since going un-sober last year, (and then sober, and then un-sober again), I’ve devoted a lot of this safe space to talking about “the industry”. I’ve also spent some of my free time talking to young actors and giving them advice about “the industry”. In these blog posts and conversations, I’ve shared some personal thoughts and experiences within said industry, and not all of them have been positive. That’s because, some not-so-positive, scary, and unfortunate situations have occurred in the last ten years I’ve been pursuing this career, and I felt the need to share that information, in hopes that it wouldn’t happen to someone else. Seems pretty normal, right?

That’s what I thought too, until about a week ago.

I recently met someone who, in one phone converastion, lifted a ten year-old weight off of my shoulders.

We were talking about career stuff and he asked me a question about my networking experiences. Now, I pride myself on my ability to network and run a business, so I knew I was about to blow this dude’s mind with who I know and what I know. However, before the mind-blowing could begin, I had to let him know, in a very feminist, maybe even slightly condescending tone of voice that, the industry we’re in is (and I quote) “very different for men, than it is women”.

How many ladies in the business (or any business for that matter) just thought, “well DUH!”? I mean, let’s be honest it is different (ex: wage gap, ageism, read some of the breakdowns put out for women). But, don’t we all know that at this point? Why’d I feel the need to school my new, attractive, white, male, successful actor-friend on what it’s like being an actress?

My new, attractive, white, male, successful actor-friend answered this question for me a few minutes later. He gave me a little advice, more like a challenge, if you will. He asked me to start thinking about the business differently. He encouraged me to look at the industry I am in as nothing but positive. He pointed out that the most successful people in this business, the ones at the very top, are actually some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. And all those “not-so-positive, scary, and unfortunate situations” don’t happen nearly as often as the oh-so-positive, thrilling, foruntate situations.

I gotta admit, my new, attractive, white, male, successful actor-friend was right. 100% right. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some incredible and successful people, and I’ve never felt anything but comfortable and appreciated in their presence. And my wins, definitely out-weigh my losses.

Then why do I feel the need to tell every newbie I meet about the one time a fake producer lured me to his apartment and tried to get me to go down on him by promising me the “lead role” in his “big movie”?

Because for some reason, that my therapist will have to explain to me later, I’ve been making my Hollywood story a tragedy and not a triumph.

Tonight, I say enough of that. You know what? These last ten years have been great, they’ve actually been pretty amazing. I was leaving the gym tonight and I sat in my car for an extra second before starting the engine and just thought “you’ve made a pretty good life for yourself, Amelia”.

So, that’s the story I’m going to start telling. When I meet a newbie, I’m going to tell them about the time I learned a Scottish accent in three days to audition for the show “Once Upon A Time” (and killed it). I’m going to tell them how good it feels to watch your friends recur on a network show, or show up in the latest Tom Hanks flick, or get a contract on a Soap. I’m going to encourage them to explore every creative outlet this city has to offer (and there’s a shit-ton of ’em). I’m going to make sure they know that yes, this career is a marathon, not a sprint, but if you love it, you’ll never get winded.

I wake up every single day, and I am exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I want to be doing, being exactly who I’ve always wanted to be.

I just needed a little help to see that. And maybe you did too.

 

Editor’s Note: Inequality in the workplace is a very real thing and I encourage anyone reading this to help us fight to close the wage gap and ensure that regardless of age, sex, or race, people are paid fairly for the work they do. Write to your congressmen and women, speak up when you see something, and use your voice to help others. ¬†

 

Presently: Need to get something off my chest.

At the end of last summer, something really cool happened to me. I was sitting at home, binge watching old episodes of “Sister Wives”, when my phone rang. Now, as an actor, there’s nothing better than the sound your phone makes when you get an email. That combination of dings makes my heart fall into my butt faster than if I get a text from my ex-boyfriend (which one? I’m not telling).

The beautiful “buh dah doop” sounded and I sprang for my phone thinking “please be an audition, please be an audition”. It was not an audition, but it still caught my eye.

This email was from a New York based producer, who shall remain nameless, but for dramatic effect, let’s call him, Mr. J.

Mr. J was reaching out to me because he had somehow stumbled across my blog, (yes, this blog, the one you’re reading right now), and he liked what he read. He explained that his company, though new-ish, had a pretty sweet investment deal (my words, not his, his were much more professional and dream-making), and that he wanted to talk to me about possibly turning my blog, (yes, this one), into a movie.

I read the email, I chuckled, I thought “yeah right, scammer”, and then, I got curious. I looked Mr. J and his company up on IMDb. To my surprise, they were legit. Yeah, they didn’t have many credits under their belt, but the credits they did have had nice budgets and big names. I wasn’t dealing with some kid in his mom’s basement, or that Hollywood douche who wears a “Producer” hat to parties thinking it’ll get him laid. These guys were the real deal and they liked my writing and they were making me an offer I literally couldn’t refuse.

I jumped up and down for a second, let out a solid girl-squeal, then sat down to compose a brief, professional, charming response.

A few days later I was on the phone with Mr. J talking budgets and option deals and writing. I spent weeks going back and forth between the producers and my agents, negotiating contracts. About a month after that first email, I signed an option deal.

To say I was on cloud 9 would be an understatement. I always knew I wanted to be an actor, but someone was giving me a platform to not only act, but write my story, a story I was passionate about, a story I was proud of. I was beyond grateful and ecstatic. 365 days of going stone cold sober really paid off, right?

Wrong.

Everything was going really well. Mr. J flew to LA and we spent a weekend discussing acting, writing, books, love, and life over a couple of dinners. If I’m being completley honest, I was smitten. I remember going to our first dinner meeting thinking that’s all it was; a dinner meeting. When I walked in and saw Mr. J standing at the bar, I thought “hubba hubba”. I found myself flirting before the waiter could even come take our drink order.

After that weekend, Mr. J and I stayed in touch. He would text me about the script or just to say hi or to send me a picture of a cute dog. One day, I came home to a package on my doorstep from Mr. J. It was a giant bag of licorice, which I had told him was my favorite (although, if you’re reading this Mr. J, I said red licorice was my favorite, and you sent me black, gross).

In between texts and gifts, I was writing. I was writing… All. The. Time.¬†Some days I wrote more than others. Some days I didn’t feel like writing so I forced myself to do it, only to delete the un-inspired mess a few hours later. I was writing dilligentally, I was holding up my end of the deal, unfortunately, Mr. J was not.

To make this long story a bit shorter, the next time Mr. J came to LA, it didn’t go so well. He had reached out to make plans, we had confirmed plans, and then the day of said plans, Mr. J ghosted. The last text I got from him said something along the lines of “Will let you know what the plan is for tonight. Can’t wait to see you!” He never let me know what the plan was that night. I sat on my couch fully dressed, hair and make-up ready for hours, waiting on his call, which never came.

At first I thought something terrible had happened, which is a normal reaction to have when you care about someone and trust them and they do something out of character. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Mr. J was completely fine, he just blew me off. I called, I texted, I emailed, I stuck my agents on him. This all happened two months ago. I still have yet to hear from Mr. J.

So, as far as I’m concerned, I no longer have an option deal. As quickly as that unrealized dream came true, it was squashed.

And I’m not going to lie, that really freaking hurts. Both on a personal, and professional level, it hurts.

I’ve gone through a few emotions dealing with all of this. At first I felt stupid. How could I have let myself trust this guy? I’ve been here before, I’ve heard those Hollywood-Producer Hat Wearing-Douchecanoes go on their rants about how they want to make me a “star”. Mr. J wasn’t that guy though. He was humble, and kind. He listened when I spoke, he looked me in the eye, he seemed to value my opinons and trust my creativity. He wasn’t a producer cliche. So, I stopped feeling stupid and instead, I felt anger. I was angry at myself for thinking something this good could happen to me and I was angry at Mr. J for breaking our contract. I was angry at the universe for showing me what it feels like to get what you want, only to yank it away a few months later. Then I felt sorry. I felt sorry for Mr. J because I have a hunch this all has to do with money. I think they offered me an option deal and at the end of the day, they couldn’t pay up, so they vanished. If that’s the case, then yeah, I feel sorry for them because I know what it feels like to want to create and tell stories, only to get held back by something as frustrating as money. The three scripts sitting in my iCloud know that feeling all too well.

And now, I’m just hurt. I think this one is going to sting for a little while, but that’s okay. I’ll find some creative and cathartic way to heal the wound and move on from it all.

Before I move on though, I have some final thoughts for Mr. J.

I read something recently that said, “wish someone the best as if you have all the power in the world to make their dreams come true”.

And with that in mind…

Mr. J- I wish you the best. I hope you make wonderful work. I hope you continue to make movies. I hope you tell meaningful stories that leave you inspired. I hope the road gets easier, and even more fulfilling. I hope you find success in everything you do. I hope you never make a promise you can’t keep, ever again. But, more than anything, I hope you are happy.