I moved to Los Angeles to be an actor.
Just like millions of others who ride in on the idea that THEY will be the next big movie star. I wanted it real, real bad. I even told myself, "I should give myself at least a year for things to really start to pick up. I mean, surely I'll have an agent in less than a year. I'll join the union as soon as I get settled."
I also thought living in Long Beach was close enough to Hollywood because it was only 24 miles apart, so like a 30 minute drive. (HA!) And, after seeing every single episode of 90210, I thought Beverly Hills was beachfront.
--1 year later--
The drive turned out to be 90 minutes, on average.
No agent came calling.
SAG didn't want my money.
Auditioning was a form of torture.
I was earning $125 a day and working 12 hour days as an extra, which was far from glamorous.
And, to my surprise, there was no beach in Beverly Hills.
I was failing at acting. Hard.
(Renée Zellweger, you basically have the career I would've wanted.)
It was then that I made my first of many pivots.
This failure was a stepping stone towards something new and, because I knew how to sew, I thought I would become a Costume Designer. Easy Enough!
I loved being on set. In one day, hundreds of people are working simultaneously towards the same goal, which - in total - was about 5 minutes of film.
Film and TV Production is S L O W until it's fast. Then you better move at the speed of light.
My first job in the costume department was as a "set costumer." Basically I had to check continuity, sew some buttons, tape edges, take Polaroids, and stay out of the way.
I was working for "points," which means I didn't get paid until the movie made money. I thought WOW, I'm going to make so much money when this is released in the theaters!
The lead actor was an unknown actor who had just moved to LA from the Bay Area (like me), named James Franco.
James and I are still waiting for that check.
Three years later, I was working odd non-union jobs and a few union gigs in the costume department. The only great thing about working 18 hours a day was meeting my now favorite person Christine Clark (and her IMDB is far more impressive than mine).
I was failing at falling in love with costume design or film production and I couldn't "fake it until I made it," because I just didn't have the heart for it.
It was time to pivot again and I found myself completely lost. I almost accepted a job as a kids' camp counselor on a Carnival Cruise line that was set to leave for Alaska; I would have been gone for 6 months.
Anyone who knows me knows it must have been REAL awful if I was considering working on a damn boat.
I was in such a weird space; I needed to break up with a boyfriend, which was long overdue and had to move out because my roommate was sucking the life out of me with all her drama. I wanted a change so desperately.
Lucky for me, I didn't get the job on the cruise line and I was forced to make some serious changes, which was terrifying. ADULT.
I broke up with both of them, dropped 15 lbs and moved to Hollywood and, for the first time, lived BY MYSELF. It was the most freeing feeling ever.
It was truly my Carrie Bradshaw moment.
I applied to Graduate School, got accepted, and was starting in 3 months. Graduate school was exactly what I needed; I was surrounded by a new circle of people who were all on the same path. I got my MA in Education with an emphasis in Social Justice and began teaching 5th grade in East L.A. That path ultimately led me to where I am now.
I was an LAUSD teacher and administrator for the whole of 14 years, with all the highs, lows and even lower lows. I found there was a population of students who had needs that were slipping through the cracks and the district, as much as they tried, had their hands tied in meeting their specific goals.
Let me totally honest here, on an average day a classroom teacher MUST:
1. Make curriculum accessible to all children who at times only share their age in common.
2. Create lesson plans to meet the needs of students who are either one of or a combination of; second language learners, highly gifted, arrived in the U.S. a week ago, adopted, in foster care, are diagnosed with a learning disability, diagnosed with a terminal illness, homeless, bullied, a girl, a girl of color, is transitioning, parents who have passed away or typically developing.
And here I was trying to teach them to multiply fractions. I LOVED every minute of it. I was really good at it; I was succeeding and advancing rapidly into administration. It was there, once I enrolled in the Administrative Credential Program to finalize my new job as Principal that I quickly realized this. isn't. me.
Why was I receiving so much praise and accolades and still so unhappy? Did I mention during this period of time I gave birth to two kids, breastfed until my nipples bled, and ultimately left them with a nanny so I could be more present for other people's children?
IT WAS NUTS.
However, there was a silver lining. It was exactly at this time I met some of the most amazing women. Without their support I would not be standing upright today. They were the first time moms in the trenches with me, and they continually extended a hand to pull me up.
After 14 years of dealing with all the bullshit red tape bureaucracy of working for LASUD, I noticed how a certain population continued to be overlooked, over and over.
I decided to leave it all and jump into entrepreneurship and open my own school, Prestique (Prestigious + Unique) for children who were “Twice Exceptional" both highly gifted but also possess special learning needs.
I had no idea at the time how HUGE of an undertaking opening my own school would be. Luckily I had the most positive teacher and supportive partner. The only problem... neither of us had ever run a business before!