Be water, my friend

Wow, I haven’t written in a really long stretch, despite having every intention. It’s been on my ‘to do’ list countless times, but it’s always a case of where do I start when there’s so much to say?!

I am now 3 and a bit years into living in LA and it has been one of the most epic and interesting chapters of my story yet.

I s’pose I need to start somewhere, and the obvious option is this blog post that I wrote a year ago (but never shared). Time for it to see the light of day I reckon…

Here are some reflections after 2 years living in Los Angeles.

April 11th, 2014

It’s 2014.

I remember applying for my 3 year ‘O1 Alien of Exceptional Ability’ visa and looking at August 10, 2014, the date my visa expires, as a lifetime away. And look where we are!

I’ve been in LA just over 2 years. It’s flown by, yet been so dense, so chocked full of life. One incredibly rich, rewarding, maddening, crazy, humbling journey. A pathway that has often felt lonely and stupendously alien. A pathway that has been electrifying, engaging and often breath-taking in all senses of the word.

The first year was hard. Perhaps one of the hardest years ever. I felt tested. I didn’t love it and the more people asked ‘Do you just love it? Hollywood?’, I somehow knew I wouldn’t have the response they were looking for. My experience was far from the razzle dazzle one might imagine, and more a case of survival and learning to trust my intuition. Through trial and error my inner compass has become finely tuned. I reckon if you can navigate this city, you’re set for life. LA is a city of extremes. A jungle. Cue Guns N’ Roses…

Two years deep I’ve really come to know this city. The many corners of it’s vast sprawl. There’s a lot to love, and a lot that’s foreign. LA has so many faces. The gloss and glitz, the fancy, the gorgeousness of the hills, canyons, coastline, historical areas, mish mash of architecture, incredible food, the dank dark pockets, seedy underbelly, the Mexican heritage, weed culture and so much more. What greater Los Angeles and California has to offer seems boundless. It’s a love hate relationship at times, but one I’ll never regret stepping into.

Being here has made me grateful to have Australia as my home. It’s made me value family and old friends on the deepest level. It’s allowed me to ascertain my priorities and seriously up my acting game. There is so much talent and competition here in LA, you must constantly stride, push, pull, go with the flow, trust, know, be ready, game, bold, fearless and generally try not to give too many shits, when sometimes that’s all you can do. Being here is like a right of passage…and somehow I feel like I’ve crossed a major bridge…I no longer feel like a rookie.

I’ve recently decided to go through the process again to renew my visa. A decision I’ve been tussling with for months. All I know is I’m not quite ready to roll out of LA yet. I am only now starting to feel at ‘home’…and see my networks developing and acting world gain wings.

This city is seductive. No doubt. The opportunities are infinite. I love being a ‘Californian girl’ and I think it suits me.

We all know LA is a city of dreams – where people come to try and make it. Get the ‘big break’. But I’ve come to see first hand how fleeting and desperate that can be, and what does it mean anyway?? What is a break? I don’t think you can say anything is certain in this town, or generally within the industry. Breaks can come and go. Opportunities present when you least expect it. Being surrounded by the constant hustle, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to get to the top…whatever that is. Don’t get me wrong…working your butt off, shooting for the stars, recognising achievement, committing to being your best, and encouraging one another to keep on keeping on, is vital.

Living in LA has forced me to think long and hard about the acting game. For the most part you’re surrounded by it, it some shape or form, and for this I am truly grateful. It’s the very reason I decided to make the move. To be a part of the buzzing hive. To be surrounded by people with creative dreams.

I’m learning to take myself and the actors journey less seriously, growing less attached and remembering it’s essentially about playing and finding the fun. I’ve realised the industry is a circus, an unpredictable beast, a constant rollercoaster, a marathon.

It can be so easy to stumble into holes and focus on the wrong things. But through my trips, falls and resurrections I’ve discovered an essence of what’s important when on this creative path, that can most definitely seep into general life.

It’s about doing what you love and being excited about it, on whatever scale. It’s about finding and creating the opportunities to do whatever this thing is, to the best of your ability. Creating relationships with people who speak the same language. Releasing expectations. Doing, sharing, discovering, practicing, experimenting, and knowing you’re but a tiny seed in this infinite cosmos, and why not express yourself to the fullest? That to move forward, you’ve got to work hard, every day. You’ve got to stay inspired and motivated. When you know and love who you are, find your truth and follow your intuition, then you can razzle dazzle with the best of them, and simply ‘be water, my friend’.

Creative pots a-brewing!

29th of February, 2012

Despite the late-ish night out, I’m up super early thanks to the neighbour who seems to be tap dancing outside my window at 7.30am. Joy o joy! I get on good old FB and a friend Alexx, whom I met through the great international network of couch surfing has emailed and is keen to meet. Alexx hosted me four years ago in his central Hollywood apartment – a beautiful 1920’s building with rattling elevators, that was once a hotel to the stars; like Marilyn Munroe and Humphrey Bogart. It was this experience with Alexx that introduced me to a side of LA that I’d never seen before. I’d been to LA years earlier, but it was more of a touristy adventure. The LA he showed me was alive, breathing creativity, off the beaten trail and very exciting. We’ve been friends ever since. As a side note – If you don’t know about couch surfing, check it out! It’s a phenomenal way of experiencing a place and meeting locals. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Alexx collects me from West Hollywood where I’m currently staying with friends and we head to his new Los Feliz pad (east side LA). Alexx works in the film/tv biz as a set painter and his home is an example of his artistic flair and vigour. He also runs a collective called Central Elements where all kinds of creators, movers and shakers are promoted. The trademark logo/photo of him and his brother as kids at Halloween in Kiss makeup I love, and can be found on stickers all over LA. He is one super interesting guy and knows LA like the back of his hand. We head to a spot called Alcove; a gorgeous cafe with outdoor seating, shady trees and a bustling brunch crowd. The only seats available are inside where we pull up a stool at a marble bar and catch up on life, love and creation. A heavenly feast of smoked salmon, potato rosti, creme fraiche and poached egg has my mouth watering with every bite. It’s a beautiful start to my first Sunday living in LA.

We head back to his gaff. There’s a beat he’s been working on and we talk about making a track together, with me potentially doing the hook. The tune plays and chilled rapped lyrics (that Alexx has recorded) bounce rhythmically. Inspiration tickles my ears and my mind; a creative whirlwind brews. A social interval when a couple of Alexx’s friends drop over to borrow a camera; acquaints me with some of his inner circle. He’s a painter, and she’s an extremely talented jewellery maker whose stunning, suspended architectural pieces with detachable air plant fittings I find breathtaking, spectacular and unique. The afternoon hums along with luscious creative brainstorming and sharing. Alexx talks about his cousin; a singer, songwriter, musician and producer who has worked with people like Janet Jackson, Bette Midler and numerous others. There’s a possibility that his cousin might help with production of music Alexx wants to make and create. We drink vodka and cranberry – Alexx’s signature drink and end the day discussing human vulnerability and power.

I am wrung out by the time I get home, after the early start and maybe some jet lag, but I push through it and take a big walk around Weho (West Hollywood). I head up Santa Monica Blvd, west, past shops into a distinctly gay area, with slick groomed men holding hands, heaving bars chock a block at 4pm, writhing buff and sexy dancers on bar tops wearing nothing but underpants. I make my way back through suburban streets under twinkling dusk stars, soaring palm trees, past a lemon and then a lime tree, from which I pluck some fruit. As I am thinking about a lime and spring onion dressing and how I should have picked up some spring onions on my earlier supermarket venture – badabing! I look down to the nature strip, and there before my eyes are not only leeks, but spring onions. A quick moments realisation at what lies in front of me and I am uprooting dirt and all! Nothing like a little urban foraging on a Sunday I say. The universe answered my very need! Amazing. Spring onions in the bag.

Frankie (my current host and dear friend) is having some friends round tonight to watch the pilot episode of ‘Touch’ that stars Kiefer Sutherland and her friend Sam. Sam joins us. Her performance is beautiful and the show truly mesmerizing. It feels a very artsy, actors night in, as they chat the biz – directors, acting classes, teachers, casting. A lot of it seems utter mumbo jumbo to a newcomer like me. Emma; Frankie’s flatmate, tells stories of her job as a PA for Brittany Murphy’s mother. Stories of the dog being walked in Ugg boots and socks are hilarious and other stories are simply heart breaking. It all feels very dramatic and very Hollywood. Tragedy and comedy combined.