NO ONE’S DAUGHTER
One thing I came to realize on my time off during the holidays was this: I am no one’s daughter.
Let me start this off by saying I think I have the best father, mother and entire family in the world. Benny, I love you. You’re the smartest, craziest, and one of the most creative dreamers that I know. You didn’t happen to be born into a old-Hollywood family or move to Los Angeles or New York with big dreams to become a writer, producer or studio head. You moved from Laredo to Houston where you met mom and created a beautiful life with mom and for that, I am forever grateful. You taught me through your example of educating yourself, working hard, and staying passionate, I could achieve whatever I wanted. And that set me up for the goal of going to the college of my choice, University of Houston, so thank you.
Then I decided to make the leap and move to Los Angeles to continue doing what I loved. I say Los Angeles as opposed to Hollywood because to me, it’s a square mile of tourist stuff, the walk of fame and a very inconvenient location to be in. And I had no connections.
My father didn’t grow up here. My mom didn’t have a friend of a friend who lived here. My sisters didn’t know anyone who was in the industry I was pursuing to get me an interview. I didn’t go to a theatre school, so didn’t really have any alumni to connect with once I got here.
Not that I should rely on connections to help me, but I (much later) realized it made such a difference. I read the trades and would see, “so and so’s show just got picked up” “so and so just signed at agency xx” “so and so to direct this film”. These are people who I had never heard of before, no credits behind them, and I was curious, GOOGLE!!!! I realized the show that got picked up, the lead is the daughter of the executive producer. The gorgeous 22-year-old model was the son of a huge writer. The director in the film was the “unknown” sister to an already established star.
And while I could sit here upset about it, I’m not. Let me make it clear, I'm not complaining, but merely making a clear conclusion of the situation. It’s the situation I have at hand and I have to understand and make sense of it and learn how to work with it to make my job and experience better. I know I am talented, and so are they. The only difference is, I wasn’t born into the family business.
Think about it. Traditionally… some people follow the process of carrying on your family’s name and go into the family business. If one of your parents were dentists, you might be inclined to follow their footsteps and become a dentist. If one of your parents was in the oil industry, you might go into that. Or maybe follow their foot steps and be an artist, a writer, a doctor, a scientist, financial analyst, teacher, athlete— who knows. You’re simply following one of your biggest role models. And then sometimes, you might not. You might leap into a business that is completely different that no one you know understands or has experience in. So then, you have to understand that the other peopleyou plan on working with or “competition” (I hate that word!), are people who learned from a very young age how the business worked and saw it everyday and had connections that you may not have.
It’s all about the I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine. Look. Everyone is connected. “I’ll put your sister in my movie, if you give my son an editing job. Thanks for getting my daughter an internship at the law office, I'll be sure to hire your husband to build our pool!” Deal? “Oh, our kids went to the same school? Of course I’ll help you out!” And it happens in EVERY industry. EVERY INDUSTRY. Starting from your middle school sports days. Only 10 spots on the team? Guess who is being selected from the 15? I wouldn’t say it’s based on talent, merit, politics— it’s connection.
I should have connected the dots a lot earlier that knowing someone or being someone’s daughter was “a thing”. Mascot? The girl stole my routine, (it was very Bring It On) and she ended up winning… she also happened to be someone’s (a very active teacher in the school) daughter. Sorority? I was a legacy thanks to my sister I thought I would rush them, but was honest I didn’t feel connected, so didn’t get a bid… this was very backwards and unheard of, but the sorority didn’t honor the legacy program, which was cool. I was much happier in my other sorority, but I went pretty far considering I didn't care for them, but I was someone’s sister. My first job as a make up artist at the leading beauty brand in the world? I had no experience, just turned 18 a week prior and had no idea what I was doing, but I was someone’s baby sister. Internship? I was the student of one of the leading journalists who made a phone call, whose producer made a phone call, and got me into the most coveted program at the time that had already started. But. I was the student, and someone had probably done a favor or two for each other years prior and I reaped the benefits. SO THANK YOU.
But I am someone’s daughter who made me smart enough to observe what was around me and assess it and use my knowledge to figure out how I fit in the picture. My parents and taught me to always show up. My mom taught me, you can do it all. You can be smart, funny, and beautiful. My dad taught me, that if someone says no someone else will say yes. Even if it seems too big of a dream, go for it. What's the worst that could happen? It actually worked? It will work out, you just have to do it.
I’ve heard some people be angry about it, “oh it’s so and so’s son, it’s so and so’s daughter, wife, boyfriend— whatever— they’re not talented, they just have a connection.” You can spend that energy feeling that way or move on to the next audition and not think about any of that. Just realize what it is and get over it and do the work. I'm sure these people wouldn't be complaining or hating the situation if they were on the other side, now would they?
I by no means say that it isn’t possible. I'm not saying that by having a connection that you're a guarantee, you still have to do the work. You just have a few more hurdles to jump over. Television and film is all about new stories. They want new stories, new talents, and always want the next new thing. And sometimes, that is a complete unknown person who has been working all their lives and they finally get their break (after working on it for 20 years). HALLELUJIAH! You have to work harder. Period. Twice, if not three times as hard. There are countless actors, writers, directors who all moved to pursue their dreams without knowing a soul. And they’re some of the greatest talents we know because that’s exactly what they focused on, the talent and the work. They realized they didn't have a shoe-in and didn't complain. They worked with it.
Focus on the work. Focus on your talents. Show up. Give them your best interpretation and let your work speak for itself. Make it your’s so much so that no matter who else walks into that room, you have done your work and they can’t stop thinking about you.
Having a connection doesn't mean it will 100% work how you want it to, I'm just saying, it sort of helps.
As one of my favorites, and inspiring comedians, Steve Martin, who is “no one’s son” said… “Be so good, they can’t ignore you.” You must do precisely just that.
Happy Pilot Season!