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.