I've been hustling in this town for almost 7 years. There is nothing that happens here that doesn't shock me. We work hard and play harder, but I can honestly say I have seen it, been there, done that, and loved it so much I did it all over again.
I came to LA when I was 19 after a long drive for 3 days across country with my dad ... in my beat up chevy cavalier convertible that I had gotten when I turned 16 ... with $300 in my pocket, and an apartment I got on craigslist where I shared a bedroom, and more roomies that I can count on one hand, and oh yeah - they all had live in significant others.
I had only been to LA one other time in my life, when I was 13 ... but I just knew for like ever and ever this place was for me. I can't describe it. I grew up idolizing Kelly Kapowski and the Cali lifestyle just seemed so amazing to a nerdy pale irish chick from Connecticut. So yeah ... off I went. Didn't know a single soul, didn't have a pot to piss in, just had the insane passion for the entertainment industry. I had been acting and modeling locally for as long as I could remember, but I was more curious about who hired the actors? And how did that person get to where they got to? And then that person got to them through who? I clearly worshiped Sherry Lansing. Ever hear of her? Here, check out her wiki - now that chick has got some serious balls.
So bottom line, LA was definitely the place for me. And so the hustle began ...
I don't remember exactly how I met this person through AOL, or what exactly ... but I started up a local chat on AIM with this guy who's family owned this crazy successful temp agency. I was all, dude! Epic! Can you get me an interview?? I just moved here and totally needed an awesome office job. I go in, do all the nerdy test typing things, get interviewed by the their staff dude, and low and behold two days later I got a call at 8:30 asking if I could be in Santa Monica by 9. See, temp agencies are awesome, but they basically run off of location. I lived on the westside, Santa Monica was literally 10 minutes away. I said of course, where am I going? He replied, to work for Jerry Bruckheimer.
I kid you not. My very first temping job in LA was working for Jerry Bruckheimer. He had some dude named Tom (I think) working for him, and he called out - soooooo I was all OMG! This is like my big break! Yep, hello naive Nelly.
I sat outside his office answering a phone all day in this crazy complicated system ... some monologue script in hand trying to be all "but I don't JUST answer a phone, I'm an actor."
Dude, funny story ... at one point I was asked to move some boxes, and I was helping the PA and I literally could not see. I rounded the corner and smacked right into Jerry. Mind you at the time, I was instructed "you will not talk to Jerry. If you see Jerry you will walk the other way. Do not approach him, do not bother him." That's totally their fault for not mentioning "do not hit him with a pile of boxes." Super nice guy. Kinda shrugged and laughed it off. I think the "I just got off the boat" was still stamped on my head. I was easily forgiven.
I spent the rest of the day typing, answering phones, and juggling all the madness in the office. It was pretty cool getting to see how crazy private this man's production office is. I felt like I was in this weird super secret inner circle. I worked my little fanny off, and continually got asked back for the duration of the assignment. It was super bitchin.
See, even if you're working a crap job in LA, you can't have a crap attitude. This is the largest small town I have ever lived in. There may be millions of people actually residing in LA proper, but the movers and the shakers run in a very very very small pack.
Don't shit where you eat, and shut up when told to. Do a good job, and yes - one day it will repay itself. You might not know how, or why, or whatever ... but just keep your head down and work.
I wound up not working for Jerry full time, as I saw the other people in the office looked well beyond their years. I don't doubt that having worked for Jerry would have been like the most amazingly awesome experience ever, but it just didn't make sense to me. I was so young, and so impressionable ... I just wasn't ready. That turned out to actually be one of the best decisions I ever made.
... to be continued ...