WRITTEN BY AMELIA BRANTLEY
Who else remembers their first day in LA (or New York or Atlanta or Chicago or wherever you may be reading this from)? I remember mine pretty well. I remember staring at the palm trees and reading the street signs from the back of a taxi (it was 2006, Uber hadn’t been invented yet). I remember some of the sights and sounds and smells, but mostly, I remember how I felt.
Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” and boy, do I remember how you made me feel, Los Angeles. I was a living, breathing, starry-eyed, small-town-girl-in-a-big-city stereotype. I got lost on Hollywood Blvd and tried to blend in with the local teenagers at the In n’ Out on Sunset and Orange. I pronounced Cahuenga, “Kah-ha-oonga”. And I told myself that ten years from that date, August 21st 2006, I was going to be a movie star. My soul was full of hopes and dreams and possibilities.
Twelve years later…
I now laugh and shake my head when I hear someone mispronounce a street name. I know my way around Hollywood so well I should probably get a job at Waze. I still love me some In n’ Out, but not enough to wait in those crazy lines. I’m not a famous actor and I can’t seem to find the stars I once had in my eyes. I worry that after all this time, after all the rejection and heartache, the professional losses and the personal ones, maybe my soul is just drained?
The wonderful Ann Dowd wrote an article for Glamour last year, talking about her experiences with the industry and not really ‘making it’ until she was much older. In the article she says, “Darlings, take many trips out of your head and into your heart and soul.” I haven’t been doing much of that lately. Have you?
Ms. Dowd is right. The only way to survive this crazy business is to stop thinking about it. Stop trying to see it or smell it or touch it. Just feel it. Feel those feelings you felt the first time you stepped foot on a stage or in front of a camera. Feel what it was like getting your first audition. Feel what you felt on your first day in your new city. Feel those hopes and those dreams and put the stars back into your eyes!
Yes, we need to be business savvy and smart and headstrong, but we also need to be dreamers because that’s what got us here in the first place.
Get out of your head and into your soul.
And if that task seems daunting or if you’re not sure how to do that, try meditation with apps like Headspace or Relax. Do some journaling. Scribble down all of your thoughts in any random order that come out of the tip of your pen, doesn’t have to be fancy. And once you’re done, if you feel like setting that piece of paper on fire… even better.
If you need something more impactful, if you struggle with anxiety or depression or all the life seems to be stripped out of you, there are great resources out there. In Los Angeles, The Maple Counseling Center is a non-profit that offers affordable one-on-one or family therapy for those of us who struggle financially. There are non-profits like this all over the country, so if you need a weekly venting session, please reach out. You’re not alone and talking to someone is really, really helpful.
Yes, taking care of our minds and bodies is incredibly important, but don’t overlook your soul. It’s in there and if you focus on it, even for a second, you’ll feel it. It’s the little voice at the base of your heart and the center of your gut whispering, “You’ve got this.” And you do, you really do.