"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Friday, May 3, 2013

Wanting to Act When You're Young

One of the gals who was in my Interactive Theatre Show asked if she could take one of the monologues I wrote and shoot it. Hooray! I just saw the 1 minute edit of it for a film festival they're going to submit to and it's pretty cute. Once it's premiered, I'll be able to show it to you guys.

I've got a few other things on the back burner I also just can't talk about  yet, but I am Counting Down the Days, y'all.

In the meantime, here's a question from a reader:

Okay, I feel rather silly. But I want to explain my story, so you could maybe further help me. By the way, I love your blog! Found it day before yesterday, and been hooked ever since! Anyways... So, we live in Mississippi. My mother is on disability, and has had 62 operations on her kidneys but is a bit better. We've been in homeless shelters the majority of my life (I'm only fifteen). We barely make life by, but we live in an apartment with my 17 year old sister, whom I don't get along too well with. So, we don't have much money. For 11th and 12th (I'm in 9th) grade I am trying to attend Mississippi School of Arts high school (MSA). After that, I want to move to LA. I realize I'm a southern country girl, but I know I have talent and I believe if I'm persistent enough, I can make it somewhere In life and live my dream. As stated, I've had a hard life, and don't really have any money. How can I live my dream of LA still though? (:
Also, if I gave the impression somehow that I only want to act to be famous (one of my friends said that), that's not the case. All my life I've felt unwanted and like I can't do much right. Acting is were people tell me how good I am. Its where *I* feel I can stand out. When something isn't right in life, I act. Its the only thing that calms me down. I love doing it so much. It makes me feel like I have a purpose. Every chance I get, I act. Thanks, ~Mikailah
 Hi Mikailah!

When I was in fifth grade, I had two outfits. A sky blue sweatshirt and sweatpants combo, and a red shirt and pants combo. I had two pairs of socks. We were poor. We had a house, thank goodness, but my mother's health bills meant there were no frills like an outfit for every day of the school week. By Friday, my socks crunched when I put them on.

I understand what it's like to have no money. To have such little money that an extra outfit is out of the question. To be woken at night by mice eating your bedroom walls. To know that no matter what, no matter what it is, you can't afford it. I've been there.

In 9th grade, I was able to get a work permit and make some money. This is what you need to do as soon as possible, if you haven't already. Make money and save it.

Because as much as I want to say that it is perfectly fine to move to LA at 18 as soon as you graduate, with $20 in your pocket, it is not. Unfortunately, you are in a situation where if you move ANYWHERE, you will always need to have emergency money to get you back home so you can go to your mother's funeral. This is something I know you know. It is terrible, and awful, but you will need to go. You will never forgive yourself if you are so poor you can't get there in time.

I'm sure you've read my blog enough to know that you need $10,000 minimum to move out to LA. You need good headshots and you need to submit those to agencies and that whole process is very expensive. And then, what if you don't get picked up by an agent? That is a possibility. It happens all the time.

But that is all years away from you right now. We need to focus on what you can do now.

You need to get a job. You need to read as many plays as you can. You need to practice monologues. You need to do your best to act and make it look like you're not acting.

You want to attend the Mississippi School of Arts for 11th and 12th grade. Fantastic! So you need to prove it to them that the school wants you. If you don't have a device to record yourself (a friend's old ipod or iphone [without the phone plan] will both work) so you have videos of you acting. Get a group of friends together and record and edit small videos of play scenes. You need a folder filled with your favorite monologues and scenes. You need to watch all the film classics. You need to research, research, research and create, create, create, because if you don't do these things, you won't be fulfilled. Make the school see that you are serious about being an actor and you are acting and creating videos already, and just think what you could do with their guidance and resources.

Find out where there is a theatre within a decent distance of you. Ask if you can work or intern there. Box office, house staff, whatever, and put yourself in a group of adults who know about you. Who can guide you, who can help you. Actors and theatre crew are nothing if not incredibly generous and kind and just a teensy bit crazy. ;)

Do everything, EVERYTHING you can to get to the point where you are researching, creating content, interning at a real theatre, and making and saving money. Expand your circle within the theatre world that already exists around you. Do NOT leave your home state until you have at least $10,000 and a bonus extra savings so you can get home in an emergency.

And you know what? Check out Atlanta before you check out LA. It's way closer, they do hire smaller roles (the only ones you'd be getting for a few years anyways)  and you could be a big fish in a small pond over there. I strongly recommend going there before going to LA. Get your feet wet. Get representation. Get film work in Atlanta.

Work on your General American accent too. Watch clips of Californian newscasters to hear what that sounds like.

It's going to be a hard and tough road for you. It's unfair, but that's your lot in life. We all have to deal with different things. But keep your chin up, work hard, and know that eventually, things could be much, much better. As long as you're willing to work very hard.

I wish you all the luck in the world.



  1. THANK YOU SO MUCH LIRA! And actually I am in my school acting clasd, have worked at a nearby theater, have made MANY MANY videos of me acting, etc. I mean, of course I am NO WHERE near done though. Haha, was just saying. And in a few hours am off to a job to get paid. I'm getting somewhere for now. Thank you for your advice, it means a bunch! ~Mikailah

    1. *class. And also, I love writing too. And drawing. I have an art scholarship!

  2. Hey Mikailah!
    It is great that you are so young, already have found your passion(s) and started working hard for them! I will keep my fingers crossed for you and wish you all the best. Work hard, never forget to enjoy what you love and listen to your instincts (and Lira's very smart advice). Always remember that there are people out there rooting for you!
    Warmest wishes,

  3. everything Lira said was totally great. One thing I'd add is that while struggling actresses may have mixed feelings about college degrees, school can be a fantastic way to gain skills, contacts, and learn more about a city...

    Apply for scholarships.. lots of them. one advantage to not having money is that you generally qualify for more scholarships. sometimes a more expensive private school with a large wealthy alumni base can be cheaper than a state school because they have larger endowments and scholarship programs.

    so work hard, on everything you do. be involved, get good grades, and dont sell yourself short. good luck!

    1. This is completely true. Mikailah, with your hardships and lifestyle, it wouldn't be unheard of you for you to have an almost or completely free ride.

      Talk to your guidance counselor at school now. Google acting programs universities.

      The sky is your limit at this point.

  4. Thanks guys! I really appreciate the support (: ~Mikailah

  5. Your story really touched me, Mikailah, and I wanted to wish you luck as well. You remind me of myself at that age - also dirt poor, living in a town with no resources or opportunities. I took advantage of every bit of information and chance to act and work that I could find, just like you're doing. I think your courage and tenacity will serve you very well and put you ahead the game. I just want to encourage you, in addition to Lira's advice, not to wait for things to be "perfect" before you move to a bigger city. Definitely save money, create your own work, train, train, train. I think going to school on scholarships that you will almost certainly qualify for is a great idea. But get here as soon as you can, while you're young. And look us up when you DO get here... I'll help you out however I can. My best to you; don't give up!Dawn Davis (dawn@dawndavis.net)

    1. Thank you so much Dawn (: ~Mikailah! I wasn't expecting to get much support, but I did and it means a lot!!

  6. Good luck Mikailah! I would add New Orleans to the list of closer cities to check out too. Lots of work there!

    1. I was considering that too! Thank you! ~Mikailah (:


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