Category Archives: Life

What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Fail

One week until the big move…

Let me begin by saying that I’m not the Drama Club Princess you might’ve gone to high school with. I’ve had dreams of becoming an actor since I was playing with pokemon cards, but I wasn’t one of those kids with an aggressive stage mom or an agent, or even lying about having an agent to seem cool at rehearsal. I was not my high school director’s obvious favorite. I was a background character until I worked my way to supporting lead in my senior year. I’m not glamorous or skinny, never cast as the ingenue. I am an alto with no chance of a solo. I ate potato chips while I learned my lines.

When I started preparing for this move I did a little research and found out a few interesting things. I didn’t know what to expect, but from what the internet told me, I could expect a few things. I could expect to need a lot of funds saved up and a tight budget. I could expect some setbacks in finding housing, roommates, survival jobs, etc. I could expect no less than 5-10 mental breakdowns beginning yesterday and lasting until after I’ve been settled in for months. All of these things so far have appeared to be accurate. What I wasn’t expecting was this sudden burst of confidence.

During my last week at work a trainee asked me something like “What if it doesn’t work out? Aren’t you scared?” And from nowhere, this animal inside me just took over and said “well, I graduated from the best damn acting school in the English-speaking world so I’m pretty sure I’ve got whatever it takes!” I couldn’t believe what had just come out of my mouth but my chest was inflated and my lips were curled into a smile I have never smiled and I was all a-tingle with my new-found nerves. I’m not like that. I don’t ever say things like that.

But some part of me knows it’s true.

The other morning I woke up and after a cup of coffee and some face book scrolling decided to hit the bricks looking for a survival job in my new locale. I started with a simple Google search of restaurants in my area, knowing that my restaurant experience had prepared me enough to hopefully pay my rent. Then I stopped for a second to do a little mental math. If I worked part time, say 4 shifts a week, I would need at least $125 in tips to make my rent in a week. I thought, okay, that’s not impossible. It was even more doable if I spread it out over two weeks. Heck, if I only worked 16 shifts a month I’d only need to clear $38 a shift. I worked in one of the lower end chain restaurants in a town with pretty low-brow clientele. If I couldn’t pull in $40 a shift the restaurant had to have been on fire in the middle of a blizzard. Worst case scenario suddenly didn’t seem so scary.

And here again was this unexpected sense of confidence reigniting within me. Why aim so low in the first place? I narrowed my search field this time to only restaurants in the area with $$$ or $$$$ next to their listing. I realize I’m only talking about working a survival job in a restaurant but confidence is a muscle. It needs to be used and trained to be strong and beneficial. I’ve neglected my confidence for so long I think I forgot that I had any.

And to top it all off, I got a complete surprise in my inbox last Wednesday. A young director found me on Backstage (where I have not paid for a yearly membership since 2010) and asked me to be a part of a music video she was filming an hour north of my neck of the woods. Of course I said yes, but this was big. Part of the reason my actor dreams have yet to come to fruition deals with my lack of confidence. After graduation, I didn’t go on a single audition. I got caught up in the mundane and barely put my talents to use, save for a couple small projects here and there. When I decided to make this move, I was afraid to go in cold, but I knew I had to try. It’s kind of now or never, and my hope was that despite my fear, I could somehow make it work by jumping off the cliff and forcing myself to fly.

Once I got to the shoot, things just clicked into place. I felt like I was back in my own skin and surrounded by a tribe of like-minded people. It was a total rush. I wanted to go out and immediately find another project, another shoot or audition. My fear was gone, and here was my confidence. This is what I was born to do. This was meant to be.

They say that failing to plan is planning to fail. And while I’ve often been a fan of winging it in the past, I’ve looked at my future plans, knowing I need to work harder to make things happen, and knowing I may will still fail at times. What I didn’t know is how planning this huge change in my life would produce a side of me I wasn’t aware that I had or how amazing it felt. I still get down every now and again about leaving my home and my friends and family, and I still wonder if I’ll ever measure up to those born-and-bred ingenues that have been modeling and working since the age of two. But I’m holding on to this sense of confidence in who I am and just what I’m capable of.

Because I deserve to be successful and I can will be.

Reintroducing Myself

My name is Jenna and if you’re following this blog, well, I have two things to say. First, you should probably find some other hobbies and second, thanks for bearing with me. This new blog is the story of my journey, a new phase of my life coming long overdue.

When I was young I had dreams of becoming an actor. I scored the part of the Wicked Witch of the West in my fourth grade production of The Wizard of Oz and since then, I’ve been in pursuit of the theatrical life. I have many passions, some old and some new, but my heart has always been most alive on the stage.

When I graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 2010, I got some pretty lousy news. I moved back in with my parents and six months later, my grandmother passed away from esophageal cancer, and I’ve been in a strange twenty-something-dilemma loop ever since.

Earlier this year I made a list of personal goals. Sick of putting my life on hold because of finances or fear, I decided that by December I would return to what feels most like home, the city of New York, and put some real effort into the life I was meant to live. I anticipated a lot of hard work and saving up to get there. I anticipated a lot of separation anxiety from my family and friends at home. I didn’t anticipate my best friend Kiowa would not be there waiting for me, as she announced she was joining the Peace Corps in the spring, to teach in Mongolia for the next two and a half years. But I was incredibly proud and happy for her and her newest adventure.

Upon further inspection of my sheltered life, I decided that maybe it was time for an adventure of my own, and a change of plans. In July, I decided to head to California and see some of the places in this country I had yet to see, which is nearly everything west of Rochester. I would leave on December 27th, the anniversary of my grandmother’s death, and repurpose the day for the start of my new life.

One month from now I’ll be packing my bare essentials into my little Honda Accord and make my way to LA. In a little over two years my sister from another mister will be returning to the USA and together, we shall road-trip back to the Big Apple. I may hate it. I may love it. Who knows? A lot can happen in that time. I’m excited and terrified, but mostly excited. So I thought I would use this blog to share my journey with all of you.

So if you want to find out what happens when I move two-thousand miles from everything I know, stick around. I’ll post some updates about my travels, the cool things I see and people I meet. I’ll let you know about any future projects in my acting career or maybe just an occasional picture of a cupcake I ate.

I have also set up a GoFundMe account to help me get to my destination. I can’t give away any cool prizes or perks as a thank-you for donations, but I have decided to commit to a few Pinky Promises. In the coming months I will do my best to fulfill as many Pinky Promises as possible to my friends and sponsors. It could be anything from a handwritten letter (super rare item, HP level 500) to a silly challenge. The possibilities are technically almost kinda endless!

So that’s the beginning of my beginning. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

%d bloggers like this: