Actor | Blogger | Photographer | Writer | Director | Worship Leader
A reflection: Tonight is December 9th, 2016. Tonight is one of those nights where I find myself reaching a breaking point of just wanting to give up; I find myself re-evaluating where I'm currently at, where I want to be, and if I should just overall let go and move on. I'd like to say that this is the first time I've gone through this- but unfortunately, that's far from the truth. There are moments that I encounter both a sense of hopelessness and an immense amount of frustration that eventually brings back suppressed anxiety & depression. NoBueno!
Sometimes I question why I put myself through the pain to pursue what my heart truly desires. I face a lot of hurt, rejection, and take on heavy burdens when I leave auditions and/or finish a project. People don't understand that as actors, we put ourselves in a state of vulnerability in front of strangers; tearing our walls down in addition to completely revealing every aspect of ourselves; our entire being. We also step into the shoes of these people whom we portray, some good and most... bad. We take on that burden of that 17 year old boy who got sentenced to 30 years in prison but still tries to cling to that seed of hope he had, or the boy who is in a gang in order to stay safe- but repercussions that almost cost his life follow... it is so much more than just "acting". It's living, experiencing, and creating this real work that no longer becomes acting, rather, it becomes existing and experiencing life in itself; which is "truth".
Occasionally the stress becomes way too much to bear, however, I usually get over it with some time and with re-focusing my mindset to remain positive. This year I have auditioned more than I've ever had in the past 7 and a half years that I've been professionally working to make my dream, my reality. This is what I prayed and asked God for; HE answered and he did it more than I was expecting to begin with. I'm so excited to be an active audition-er and each audition I go to, I learn so much more. I'm also excited that I am FINALLY investing in my dream again, along with my personal growth. Acting classes are something I've lacked, so to be back is a huge step for me- that was extremely necessary in order to fulfill the growth I'm actively seeking. There's a quote I love and it states this, "Prepare yourself for what you're praying for. Make sure to stay ready so when it's time, you're not trying to get ready." This speaks so much to me- as it resonates with the sole purpose of understanding that everything you're currently going through, is preparing you, for what you've prayed and asked God for.
Now it is January 19th, 2017 and I wanted to include two VERY different seasons in this blog. So brace yourself for another few minutes of reading #win. New year, new season and new goals. I began 2017 by finishing the last couple of acting classes I had been in since December. Having identified the season of growth I had to be on for 2016, I made it both a personal and professional goal to really focus on, as well as invest in my craft. Taking these classes really challenged me to grow and dig deeper into my work; to learn things I never knew before- to look through a different perspective and know that I am not the only one who is crazy enough to put myself through the craziness of this industry! Long story short, I had an audition for an indie pilot, callback for a short film, and an audition for a play already scheduled in my passion planner. 2017 started off in an excellent way. I went to my callback and felt confident in the work I had shown at my chem. test for the short film. My peace I obtain when leaving the room is knowing that I was affected by the scene and work. Next, I auditioned for the indie pilot- keeping in mind the advice that my acting instructor, Sam Hunt (from Chicago PD & Empire) gave me about comedy. I typically lean more towards drama, but I really wanted to challenge myself to do a comedic piece. So I did and next thing I know, I am making those in the audition room laugh throughout my monologue and guess what? It felt completely organic! It went so well, that they even asked me to perform a second monologue-- but this time, a dramatic piece. Before leaving the room I was already invited to callbacks- which will be this weekend. 2017; I am already in love with what it's bringing. Later, I audition for the play and get cast! Rehearsals began this week and we will be hard at work until opening day which is on February 24th!
So, why am I mentioning all of this? Moreover, why did I make this blog so darn lengthy? Here's the thing, in spite of all of that... the hype, butterflies, the re-fueled passion, etc... I end up reaching a wall called discouragement. Never is fair, never is on time. I auditioned for the new sister show in Chicago, Chicago Justice. After leaving the audition I felt ok about it and as I headed to work, I found myself nitpicking the things I thought I did wrong. Beating myself up for the things I should've done rather than realizing that I can't change anything. I snapped out of that funk and began to talk to God in that moment saying, "God I'm terrible at this and it is a struggle. I always get in YOUR way and take things into my hands while carrying the burden I should've already given to you. The worry, stress, the frustration.. I'm sorry God... I'm just going to worship you in advance for whatever the outcome is, because you WILL still be good no matter what." After this talk with God, I began to feel the peace only he is able to give. I finally get to work and sit down at my desk where my phone immediately goes off. I answer my talent manager and she lets me know that I'm getting called back. I was very excited and ready to meet the producer and director- which would have been today. So I worked on the material and prepared all of my things for my callback that would have been this evening. I'm at work and I get a call from my manager saying words that you'd think I would be used to by now. She said, "Hey, I'm sorry but they cut this role out of the show. We know they really liked you and we'll be working to get you seen again for something else." I let this sink in for a bit and like a rush of wind I am feeling myself hit this wall once more. I couldn't help but feel sad and upset, but it's the industry. You never know what will happen, it just is what it is. After all of the work, time, energy, gas & money from traveling, the preparation as a whole, and the re-arranging of hours at work suddenly became a burden that creeped onto my shoulders.
Today, I want to give you the opportunity to see first hand what it's like to go through discouragement. As hard as it is to write most of this, I want YOU to know that you are most certainly not alone. That in spite of your circumstances, you still have a God who loves you unconditionally, someone who is a listening ear, your peace, your guidance, your strength, and your way-maker. No matter how many times you feel like giving up, especially on your dreams, look to the hills from where your help comes from! Take it as a test of patience/ faith and think of it as God trying to see what you will do when things are good and what you'll do when things aren't. I can't begin to tell you the amount of no's, the rejection, the thoughts of giving up, but one thing that remains true is this, if God gave us a dream and a desire to pursue our heart, we CANNOT give up! He will make it happen, but we must trust in him, his timing, and his plan. It's not worth quitting just because we feel discouraged, we owe it to ourselves to live happily-- while living our dreams. P.I.O. Pray-It-Off. Pray through the discouragement.
"Discouragement is something every leader faces. Keep in mind, seasons change- as they are only temporary." -D.C
I know, it's crazy, right? But it happened... and suddenly 2016 took a turn I never thought life would take me to. Make sure to click the photo above to see the full interview on Tremblay Magazine!
Opening up my photography business was a long and well thought-out process. Do I chase after something I admired from a distance? Or do I continue admiring artists' work from afar? Watching my Uncle take photos at nearly every family occasion or special event, I always saw how much he enjoyed capturing these special moments. It inspired me every time I was able to see him work; It was and still very much is his heart- that he shares with others. I began to realize that his passion was becoming contagious. Finding myself taking a break from whatever I was doing, I would research about the craft of photography which included: Editing, Lighting, Cameras', Lens', softwares, etc. That passion turned into an active pursuit towards something that would not only allow me to fulfill that desire, but challenge myself creatively. Working in retail, I thought about how difficult it might be to save up for a camera of my own. I also thought about how long it would take, however, I decided to pay attention to the positives- along with embracing the new journey that I now stepped into in order to pursue a craft that drew the passion in me to create, challenge, and admire work of my own that I was inspired to capture..
Jumping ahead, I finally bought my camera and began a journey I still continue to be pasionate about. Gaining a repritore of clients and work under my belt and into my portfolio, 3 and a half years later I planned a vacation to California, having in mind a few goals I wanted to accomplish while out there. Relax, network, and market. I had just wrapped up a show in college where I starred lead. (Check out my next blog that will talk ALL about this!) It was much needed time away from the busiest 6 months I've ever had. Upon getting to California, I moved my things into my cousin and his beautiful familys home and ventured out into the state that took me two years to come back to. As I traveled around and explored Cali, I began to network with other artists. Tweeting, DM'ing, etc. to see who would bite back. Four days into my vacation, I get a tweet back from Youtube/Vine star, Aaron Encinas. We talked for a bit and ended up scheduling a shoot. After my first week of fun and adventure, it was time to take my friend to the airport. After she left I embarked on another week in California, but this time, by myself. The shoot day arrived and I traveled to Pasadena, CA. to meet with my new client- where we sat down and had coffee at Intelligentsia.
After that, myself, Aaron, and his two friends left to several locations where we shot with one of my good friends, Lindsey- who assisted with the shoot. Later we grabbed lunch and met that evening again for a night out. Little did I know, as I came back home from living two weeks in another state, that months later, I'd get a message from Aaron stating that Tremblay Magazine wanted to use my photos in their magazine. I remember this night clearly; I was having dinner at Chipotle with one of my friends and it honestly took all of my strength not to scream or jump with joy. I got to celebrate that amazing moment with my friend, and of course, immediately telling my family of the news. Just like that, my work was becoming featured in a magazine. That's it. There isn't much else of the story to tell. To those reading this, I would say that networking is one of the most crucial aspects in life. It doesn't take much other than a little marketing or a simple, "Hey, I'm a photographer, you're an artist, let's collab for a photoshoot". That's exactly what I did and it turned into something bigger. Never doubt what networking or having connections can do! Now I have a personal contact with Zack, in my network for his AMAZING magazine.
Go out and be brave; be fully confident in your brand, your work, and your artistry. Don't stop chasing your dreams cause they will become your reality one day. It just takes patience, hard-work, persistence, and courage.