What A Difference A Year Makes
A year ago, I packed up everything I could fit in my car and drove across the country to pursue my dream in LA. It was one of the scariest things I've done in my life, leaving a lucrative career as a lawyer to pursue acting full time. The transition has been hard, and like me, is still a work in progress.
After a few months of being here, I was really starting to hate LA…with a passion. On the east coast, no one cares if they’ve heard of you or not; if you’re good, you’ll get your shot. In LA, the only thing people care about is whether they’ve heard of you. If they haven’t, they treat you like a detritus of an unwanted pest.
Anyone who’s lived in LA and tried to “make it” in this business will tell you it’s hard. Very hard. But until you come and experience it for yourself, you won’t fully appreciate how excruciatingly soul-crushing Hollywood can be. It's not something you can convey in words.
I don’t care who you are, after enough days of being scoffed at for having this dream and chasing it, of being told you are worthless and wasting your time, of having people laugh in your face or loudly behind your back, you get discouraged. You question yourself. You question your decision to come here and you start calculating the odds of success and realize they are about as good as a safe voyage to Mars. No one can face that deluge of discouragement unscathed. No one.
I thought about leaving. I have several friends who came out here and left. I know other people who came out here and lost themselves. I wanted to leave to.
But after months and months of being insulted, ridiculed, dismissed, and laughed at, I got used to it. It stopped bothering me. People kept doing it, but rather than listen and internalize it, I just let it roll off my back now. I still don't know what changed, but something did. A year later, I've had my fill of negativity and resistance from this place. When you’ve had your fill you can either burst, spill over the negativity, or simply say “that’s enough.”
After a year of taking LA’s beatings, it doesn’t hurt anymore. I actually love it here. The weather is unbeatable, I have amazing friends, I’m working regularly, I’m seeing progress in my career, and I’m rock climbing! There’s so much to love about LA. And once Hollywood stopped getting to me, I was able to appreciate all there is to enjoy about this city. There’s only one thing missing, but that will take time.
So here I am, with one year in LA under my belt. It’s been rough, too rough to adequately describe. But I’m still here. I’m stronger, more confident, more focused. With the help of my friends and family, I haven’t lost my passion for acting. I’ve grown much and learned more. I’m ready.
This year will be better than last. I can feel it.
How have you grown personally and professionally in the last year? Have you been in the meat grinder that is LA? How'd it treat you?
(first photo is my own from my cross country trip last June; second is courtesy of Chris Hawley and is of me doing a back flip into my pool)
-- Gabriel Voss