Admittedly, I'm a late bloomer.
(Consider you have been warned! Embarrassing photos to follow....)
You Can Take the Girl Out of the Country...
I guess it probably began in the sixth grade when I started playing sports at my new school. We had moved to Newcastle, Oklahoma from the city (OKC) and I decided to join the basketball team and discovered I was actually pretty good at sports. I was going to be a high school sports superstar!
That 4-year journey through my Senior year would see many ups and downs, but ultimately it took me to All State (in two sports - softball and basketball), State Championships and a college scholarship. I wanted to go onto the Olympics (but alas, that's another story).
Growing up in Oklahoma, even then, I knew I wanted to be an Actor, especially after I watched Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Arc (yep, seriously). I would be an archeologist as my fall-back plan...
But growing up in Oklahoma, I was also the furthest away from Hollywood a girl could be.
So what did I do? I made a plan.
However, the path from A to B isn't always so simple. Best laid plans and all that. It zigged and it zagged and it took me 20 years to get here.
At 19, I attended college at the University of Oklahoma where I acted in plays at the local theatre, had my first talent agent and auditioned for film and TV. Discouraged from going to drama school, because my parents felt it wouldn't put food on the table, and without a working film school at the University I chose PR and Journalism instead.
However, in hindsight, it would be the solid foundation I needed to build my future dreams upon.
The BIG D
Moving to the next step and onto a bigger market in Dallas, TX, I chose to boost my Acting career by becoming a filmmaker and musician. Partly motivated by a broken heart, partly motivated by pure rebellion (you see the bleach blonde hair, right?), this is where my filmmaking career started.
Los Angeles or Bust...
Ready to finally take the plunge, I took the next step and moved to Los Angeles where I received my MFA in Acting (finally did drama school thing) from California Institute of the Arts and pursued acting and filmmaking professionally post graduation.
As soon as I graduated, I was off like a shot. Playing catch up (I was in my 30s) feeling the pinch that Hollywood places on you if you're over the age of 25. Time was short and I had to 'make it big' or else go home. I took classes, seminars, workshops. I joined organisations such as WIF, FIND and got involved in the community. I wrote my own projects and raised money, learned filmmaking from the ground up. I was like a sponge and hustled like nobody's business.
I made my first feature film (Chasing Life) based on my limited filmmaking skills I learned back in Dallas, TX, and my seminar junkie days. But, I jumped in with both feet and came out the other side a solid filmmaker. I acted in other people's projects, interned with production companies, was mentored by A list Directors and Casting Directors. I networked my ass off.
But I just could seem to get a break that would move me to the next level.
After my 3 years of creative bliss and a few years knocking around Hollywood - I was to be handed a huge, ugly plate of humble pie. Less than 2 years out of school, I found myself struggling and in massive debt from college loans. I was told (subtly) time and again that Hollywood had no use for me. Sadly, women are still marginally underrepresented in almost every facet of the industry.
Naturally, I was devastated. Disillusioned. Broken-hearted. Not to mention I was flat broke, jobless, homeless, and just at a loss as to what I was to do with my life next. I was going backwards, not forward - as my momentum might otherwise indicate.
Life as I knew it was unraveling fast.
With 2 college degrees, and 10 years of OJT, I needed a new game plan. It was time to rethink my life's priorities. No one taught me about the business side of Hollywood. No one taught me how to survive day in and day out in the entertainment industry. These are not things you learn in college (and should!). And so the next 5 years after college proved to be a massive struggle just to survive and formulate a new game plan.
I needed to understand the implications of my creative choices and what the consequences of those actions would be. A major life shift was in the works, but I didn't know that yet. I also came to hate the 'Hollywood system', which can strangle creativity in the name of commerce and money. I was also becoming a multi-hyphenate. Multiple talents, but told I can only do 1 thing at a time. Ugh.
Conformity was not in my nature and I surely wasn't going to start now. This was in the age before YouTube and Instagram. The age before artists had tools that were affordable and accessible to work around the hierarchical framework of Hollywood.
No matter what, I had to find a way to cultivate all of my training and my passion for acting and filmmaking, while still putting a roof over my head and food on the table. I had to pick up the pieces of that broken dream and created a better one.
I decided then and there (after many, many tears over cheap Trader Joe's pizza and wine) that I was not going to give in, or wait for someone else to hand me the reins of life. I wasn't going to wait tables for 20 years until my (potential) big break - that was too big of a gamble. Nor was I going to work in mind-numbing, soul-sucking temp jobs so I could have 'flexibility' to audition when the phone (might) ring.
There had to be a better way to merge my creative passions and make money to sustain that dream.
I decided to cultivate and master my unique talents. Utilize the best of my abilities and share them with the world. I just didn't know how...
But life had other plans for me.
Changes...They Are A'Comin'
I left Hollywood in search of some deeper meaning. Some adventure to brighter shores and hopefully launch my second career, while still staying in touch with my creative side. By chance (my parents sold their house in Oklahoma and my father hiked the Appalachian Trail) I ended up in Tennessee and met the amazingly talented and funny Pat Cronin, who changed my life - he became my mentor and lifelong friend.
He was my kismet and gave me my first university teaching job; opening up new opportunities and a renewed leash on life. I fell in love with creative teaching. I was going to be a teaching superstar! It afforded me so many opportunities to utilize my experiences, practice my craft and share my skills and education with a new generation of actors, filmmakers and other creative students.
He started a fire that reignited my passion for creativity, teaching and living my authentic self.
He was exactly what I needed in my life. A friend. A mentor. A wise sage who gently pointed me in the direction I needed to be. We all should be so lucky to have a 'Pat' in our lives.
But, Something else was happening...
Changes were afoot.
Digital economies of scale were emerging and suddenly, the old way of doing things was moving aside for something new and exciting.
Taking a Leap of Faith
Meanwhile, my sister had been accepted into the University of Glasgow for an MA degree, and because we were so close I couldn't bare for her to be so far away. So I decided to pursue a PhD in critical and creative media practice in film and move to England (University of Sussex in Brighton), as my growing passion for new media and digital technologies emerged with the changing industry tides, as was my restlessness and wanderlust for international travel.
Glasgow and Brighton, however, were just about as far apart as you could be on the tiny little island of the United Kingdom. I knew no one. Knew nothing about being an academic. And had only traveled outside the United States once on holiday. This was going to be an epic journey indeed.
There was a new paradigm shift happening and I was eager to learn new skills and found myself in a foreign land doing something outrageous and different than anything I've ever done before.
Looking back, every step along the way was preparing me for this giant leap. And another life's journey would begin. I was going to be an academic superstar! In those previous years of life's momentous ups and downs, personal tragedies and new awareness, something happened.
I finally grew into my own.
The late bloomer.
I finally understood what all of the moving parts around me and my life experiences meant. My gypsy life, while unconventional to some, finally gave greater meaning to me. The climbing. The hustling. Pushing through the obstacles and finding the sheer drive and willpower to succeed (survive).
I was mastering so many skills in interdisciplinary areas. I suddenly had new vocabulary to better understand and connect what was in my heart and in my head. I grew out of my need to fit into a certain idea or molded into someone else's idea of success. I gathered all of my life experiences into an expertise.
I discovered a niche in the emerging field of creative enterprise and got hired as a Research Fellow post doc. After that, I launched my consulting practice and started traveling the world teaching others how to create more impact.
I was finally, collectively assimilating each area of my creative, educational, personal and professional experiences and allowing them to 'gel' into something I could make money at, while still being true to my original dream.
Ultimately, after 15 long years, I finally knew where I was going with more clarity.
LIVING THE Dream
But alas, it still is not enough. I've been told I can be a bit stubborn and hard-headed...(thanks mom).
All this time, through all my trials and personal/professional downfalls (or life-redirects, I'd like to think), financial demise (hardships) and couch surfing days never again, will I underestimate the power of a comfortable bed, food in the fridge, money in the bank and warm house.
Seeing other creatives struggle to meet their financial obligations and personal responsibilities and many, many more giving up on their dreams all together as talented and unique Actors, Filmmakers, Dancers, Musicians - ARTISTS...I couldn't stand by and not share what I've learned over my past 20 years of life.
I am now in the third-phase of my career and it's time to cull all that expertise into my next challenge, by living according to my time and my dime. I want to share my knowledge and expertise with others. Unlimited possibilities are opportunities, which will also leave free up time for me to do the things I truly want to do. Living the dream.
Teach, travel, make films, act, write, practice yoga and live by the sea...
Actually, I am doing all of that - but I'm living the dream in the beautiful English countryside with my amazing husband and our cute and cuddly little boys, Rory and Baxter.
Let's Get you There Faster!
It's taken me over 20 years to get to this point. To finally put my plan in action. Why so long? I think it's mostly been mindset. It's always been a struggle to see it and believe it. Dynamic technologies have changed how we work and live. The dynamics of social and political environments, globalism, populism, climate change, A.I., technology and economic realities are changing how we (should be) adapting.
We are fundamentally programmed to be employees and to live by society's rules of conformity. To go to school, get a job and then retire. But I don't chose to take that path any longer. I have decided to live by my own rules. I've never been a true conformist before - and when I have tried, it has ended poorly.
I know my students want this to. I've spoken to hundreds of my students, both in my classes and online about their goals and dreams. I read thousands of comments on blogs and social media where people are tired of the status quo. They want to embrace their unique talents and have them utilized in a valuable way. They want their voices to be heard. They want something more than the traditional pathway.
There is a mutual passion burning.
I want to help you get there too.
I want help you live your dream too.
This is about reaching something
bigger than ourselves.
Creating something that challenges us every day, but also reaps its own rewards through calculated and careful planning and execution. What will those tangible rewards be? I'm not sure.
But I have studied, hustled, worked and researched my little heart out and I see people doing it successfully every day. My life has purpose and meaning.
I define my own success.
If I can bring my own unique creative and business expertise and experiential knowledge into the online space and share it with others, I believe I can also help others carve their own unique path.
Finding their passion for living financially free, while being creatively viable.
Day by day.
I am going to be an online superstar!
Or maybe, this time I'll just be happy with my own definition of success.
I challenge you to do the same.
Thank you in advance for reading my story and for
allowing me to be a part of yours.
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