For a big part of my life, I thought I was going to be an opera singer. I can pinpoint the moment that trajectory changed to a day when I was walking along the street in San Francisco. I was living there at the time, having graduated from a music college in the city about a year prior. I’d gotten rejected from all the grad schools I applied to for opera singing, and I stayed in SF to work and take more voice lessons. Hearing the “no’s” from the masters programs stung at the time, but I’m a believer in trusting in the journey. And the journey led me from opera to something totally different.
While I was walking through the city that day, a woman stopped me and asked if I’d like to go to a casting for her runway fashion show. I’d never done anything like that before, and even though I was nervous, I said yes.
After the casting (where I hilariously tried to walk in high heels like models I had seen in videos), the woman I auditioned for said, “Practice your walk, but yes, I’d like you in my show.”
That show led to doing more modeling in San Francisco, and when circumstances brought me back to SoCal, where I’m from, I thought, “Why not continue this in such an entertainment hub like L.A.?”
Once I moved back, I signed up for several modeling and acting audition websites, and also for Central Casting, a company that hires extras for tv and film. I quickly realized how not glamorous being an extra is, but had fun meeting new people. And sometimes, we were featured on camera. It was funny when friends would text me with screenshots, asking if the person in that one-second clip was me. The screenshot I’ve received the most over the years is definitely the one from the tv show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
The episode was called “The Gang Group Dates.” Our calltime was early, something like 5:45am, and I had gotten out from a previous background job at about midnight. I rushed home, showered, and drove to the studio, finding myself on the Paddy’s Pub bar set that the show features. Someone from the production crew chose me and two other girls to sit at the bar and do a little scene with the characters Charlie, Mac and Frank. They approach us like they’re going to hit on us, and Danny DeVito, who plays Frank, goes, “Hi, ladies. I’m Frack. Sh*t.”
The past few years have been full of silly moments like that. At one audition, the casting director told me, “I want you to say ‘obsession’ in the most sultry way you can.” So here I am going “obsession, obsession,” and throwing my head against the wall in a “sexy” way. The whole thing cracked me up, and I told my friend Jason about it. It began an inside joke with us where we’d say “obsession,” and then do something ridiculous, like dig into a Pizookie from BJ’s.
Obviously, I’m not a famous actor or model, so those career paths, as well as opera, have not been the one for me. But all of these experiences - getting rejected from grad school, doing the runway show, playing an extra on It’s Always Sunny, going to the “Obsession” audition - have taught me necessary skills. I’ve learned to be resilient in the face of failure, to be brave even when I have no idea what I’m doing, and to simply have fun.
Though I’ve narrowed in on music again, as a pop songwriter, I still have not yet reached my “ultimate” career goals, and maybe you haven’t either. My thoughts on it are: don’t be afraid to try things, to look dumb, to pick yourself up again and again. In time, when it’s the right time, we will get to where we need to be. And in the meantime, let’s enjoy every step.