In April of 2010, I worked as a volunteer at the 5th Annual Sunscreen Film Festival, in St. Petersburg, FL. I had wanted to attend the festival because an online friend, Leo Partible, was speaking at the event, along with two producers that we had previously interviewed for InfuzeMag, the online magazine Leo & I wrote for: Phil Cooke and Ralph Winter.
After the discussion and Q&A from Cooke & Winter, I had an opportunity to speak to Phil Cooke 1 on 1. I asked him for his advice about my writing and acting and getting started while still in Southwest Florida. He encouraged me to focus on either writing or acting – I told him I was a better writer – and, regardless of what you can accomplish somewhere else, if you want to be a writer in Hollywood, I needed to move there – be where the people are that are doing it, immerse in the culture, and be available for meetings.
I was excited and inspired. And then talked myself out of it for several months.
I had always felt called by God to go into the entertainment industry, and I was a successful writer – having worked as a News Producer, an MSNBC local launch online news producer, a Promo Producer, then moving into the private sector as an Industrials Producer and doing training (along with Video Forensics) for the local Sheriff’s Department. I had also been working as a professional actor for many years – in local theaters, on the Seminole Gulf Railway Murder Mystery Train, and doing a monthly kid’s production – FamJam – for a local church.
At this point, I was working at a bunch of part-time jobs, working primarily for an AV company, at the Naples Beach Club and the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, saving what money I could.
Along the way, I produced an award-winning training video on Domestic Human Trafficking for my former employers and the Department of Justice. I reached out to a fellow actor, Aaron Jackson, who trains child actors to fill some of the roles and was very impressed.
Aaron was a series regular on California Dreams, one of the many NBC Saturday shows from Peter Engel after the success of Saved by the Bell, and I reached out to him for advice. My focus was still going to be writing, but could I earn enough as an actor to keep me afloat long enough to break into the writing side of Hollywood, specifically TV, which tends to be harder than even connecting as an actor.
Aaron agreed that it was feasible, even if I started out doing primarily Background (Extra) work. He gave me some connections that might help and encouraged me – to get started in time for pilot season, I needed to get going in early March at the latest.
Finally, in March of 2012, I rented a large Penske truck, loaded it with my entire life’s possessions (most of them, anyways), my car on a hitch in the back, and headed to Los Angeles.
I slept in the truck and drove cross country, making it to Burbank, CA, an LA suburb that Aaron had recommended to me, in just 5 days. I got a Post Office box, a storage unit, and the adventure began.
This blog is a record of my quest, as detailed as possible, to share my story how I found success in this town. Here are the successes, the failures and the missteps, in an effort to present an honest portrayal of what it took for me. My story isn’t everyone’s story. But it is a true story, and I know both from acting and writing, that specificity is the key to connecting.
My hope is that my story will both encourage and inspire, as well as make it clear just what it can take to succeed in this town – especially for someone of a later age.
Please Note: Because of a corrupted WordPress install on iPower a couple of years ago, there are some gaps in this record. I am slowly but surely rebuilding these missing holes, so expect some ebbs and flows in the account. But hopefully not too much is missing.