This industry is SO humbling! When you’re not in a Star Wars or Marvel project, it’s really easy to be grounded because it is so hard to get a big break. You don’t have time to get a big head because you are too busy grinding while hoping for your shot at the big time! Sixteen is a tough age for kid actors…a lot of times casting directors can just hire an 18-year old that looks young. Don’t let that stop you or frustrate you! Keep working. I’ve had hundreds of auditions, lots of callbacks and chemistry reads - the right role is out there for you. In the meantime, do your own thing. Create, create, create! There are so many new outlets to get your work out there.
The biggest project I worked on was several years ago - a TV movie called Terror In The Woods. I met some of my best friends on that set (Sophie Grace who won an Emmy for The Babysitter’s Club and Skylar Morgan Jones who has filmed a couple of movies that will be coming out soon) and found some amazing filmmaking mentors - especially the director, DJ Viola, and the director of photography, Dave McGrory. Since that movie, and during the pandemic, I spent more time writing, directing and shooting my own short films. I’ve made 3 so far and they’ve done a bunch of awards at festivals and were even shown at The Chinese Theaters in Hollywood!
[To spark my creativity,] I watch EVERYTHING! I have certain shows that I love like 30 Rock, The Office, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, Star Wars, Marvel, etc. I pick up some nuggets of ideas from shows like that - but I also really apply things that happen in my real life. They always say “write what you know”. My first short was about competitive dance, my second film was about empowering girls, etc.
I really like the creativity [of the Entertainment Industry] and watching my friends work. There are so many paths you can take when you learn from your peers…I started out just acting, but now I really love writing and directing - and I’m even loving working with the cameras, lighting, and editing software.
[I’ve started strengthening] the technical side of the business. I have been working with a lot of advanced equipment. I shoot with a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera in 6K, I use camera stabilizers and can fly a drone. I work with editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve…and now I’m working on learning how to do color grading. There is a lot that goes into making a film look like a film…it’s not just saying lines in front of a lens.
Business Advice: Be professional on set - you can still get fired from the job if you show up not ready to work! Don’t be late, treat everyone with respect, know your lines and the intent behind your lines, hit your marks!
Network Tip: When you are on set, meet everyone and learn from everyone. I made so many connections on the set of the first movie I ever worked on. The casting director has coached me on auditions, the director wrote me a recommendation for my arts school, the director of photography gives me advice on cameras and lenses. You never know when you may be able to help each other out in the future.
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