It’s the things we do when no one is looking, when we are at home all alone, when we have a spare minute…it is when we choose to prepare at night instead of attend the party…it is the sweat and tears we put into our dreams that no one sees…and when we have success the onlookers think it was easy for us…but we know, that success does not come without sacrifice and hard work. It is these moments that separate the champions from the rest. When we get up and work even when we don’t want to – that is greatness.
While hard work isn’t always pleasant, the rewards you experience by being self-made are so much greater when you know what it took to get there. People often tell me that when they see me in a commercial or on TV, they think it’s “cool” or “glamorous.” What many don’t realize is that this one moment of success took years of training, coaching, studying dramatic arts at USC, waking up early to work out and stay in shape, thousands of mornings getting up early, preparing, getting ready, driving all over Hollywood, and auditioning only to hear “no.” Then one day you hear “yes.” That moment is worth every taste of bitterness leading up to it. For I believe you can never know just how sweet something is without having experienced the bitterness.
My mother worked for many years as an executive in the corporate world for Fortune 500 companies, and I can remember her telling me that the only difference between the CEOs and the people who worked for them was that the CEOs got up more times after they failed. Failure is simply a part of life, and though it is heart wrenching at times, the more you can make friends with failure, learn from it and learn to keep going the better off you will be.
As a young girl performing on stages in my small town of Woodinville I can remember dreaming of Los Angeles like so many do. I have memories of other kids calling me “prude” in science class, or “lame” because I didn’t drink or attend all the parties. But I am okay with that because I know that my time was spent working on grades and my goal of attending a private university. The rest would come later. My dream did come true, and while attending The University of Southern California I set my sights even higher. I’ve since experienced the thrill of filming a movie with actors who are among the most respected in the industry, a CSI spot with the talented Ted Danson and Marg Helgenberger and in the past month I have filmed four commercials for major companies. When I stepped in front of the camera on set, each time I smiled back on every moment I spent working towards this, and I was thankful. I know that I did this on my own. Moving to Los Angeles to follow a dream that so many do. But I believe what sets me apart is my sincere love of the craft of acting, and my willingness to put in the work that is necessary – and then some. I do not take a single moment of this life for granted. I love acting more than I have ever loved anything. It makes me so happy.
I know that hard work can indeed pay off. I have paid close attention to certain stars I admire who have worked their way to the top with respect, dignity, and tenacity. For example, Jodi Foster and Natalie Portman fulfilling their education at ivy league schools and continuing to better themselves. Ryan Seacrest, a self-made success story in his own right, who stated, “I know when I go to bed that no one’s working harder doing what I’m doing, and I think, quite frankly, simply that hard work at some point was gonna pay off.” One other person I admire and watch is Cameron Diaz. With beauty and a smile like that you would think it was easy for her, but if you pay close attention you can see how hard she works. She wants to be taken seriously as well in her craft, shown through example by doing movies like “My Sisters Keeper.” Another quote I love is by Cameron: “I think that anything that you do, any accomplishment that you make, you have to work for. And I’ve worked very hard in the last ten years of my life, definitely, and I can tell you that hard work pays off. It’s not just a cliche.” I don’t have any crazy connections, or link to the world that is acting, but I have my talent and my brains – and I will make it happen.
On my journey I have met some very inspiring people. When I auditioned for USC’s theatre program at 17 years old I met a young man who I still remember. He was waiting in the hall for his audition, and I sat next to him talking to him for an hour while we waited. I remember him being so full of light and energy, yet he was soft spoken and kind. He was torn over going to school or continuing with what had already been a success in the industry. When I asked him whether he would forgoe USC if he got a certain role, he said: “Oh no, my mother would never let me go out of the house before studying with the greats. She has made me gain my education and become a skilled actor before even allowing me to work.” He later introduced himself as Evan Ross, son of legendary singer Dianna Ross. And while I didn’t put that together until later, and although he probably doesn’t remember me, I remember him and the inspiring way he spoke. I learned that day that you can affect some one by simply speaking to them, and often not even know it. My family has raised me with very similar standards and morals. That is you go after something with all you have, it will pay off if you have a steady and determined heart. It’s all about the work ethic, and the improvement.
The last thought I have today is about faith within Hollywood. I was baptized, raised, and confirmed Christian growing up. There have been times that I have lost it living out here in LA alone with no family, but it always makes its way back into my heart. I do believe that there are faithful people in Hollywood succeeding because of their hard work and talent. Just last week while I was on set I shared a trailer with a young girl named Paige Hurd. She was reading a book called “God Doesn’t Blink,” and we struck up a conversation about what churches we attend and bible study groups. It was the most refreshing conversation to hear on set. Her sister then came to visit her on set and they seemed so close. I know this girl will go very far, for she has a solid ground beneath her. It is people like this that continue to inspire and prove to me that the world of acting can be one of great positive influence if we choose to use it in the right way.
My hope and desire is to use my career to positively influence younger generations to live strongly, be proud of who they are, and give back.