Art Has No Deadline
Many people believe that it takes luck to be successful, especially in the entertainment industry. It’s all about the right place, the right time, and who you know. I’m an actor. I’m a producer, a comedian, a writer, a creator, a mentor. I am all of these things because I shape my own destiny. I chose to create my own opportunities. Let me explain how I know this....
When I decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of being an actor, I was told that I did not have what it takes: I was too tall, not pretty enough, a woman, and most of all, I had a different skin color. I was born in West Africa, but spent my youth in Las Vegas, NV. My mother is African American and my father is Caucasian. Growing up in this blended, multi-cultural, “out-of-the-norm” family, made it difficult to know exactly who or where I belonged. The color of my skin was different, unique, and I never felt fully accepted—I was considered “unusual” or "exotic looking." I repeatedly had to explain to inquiring people why I did not resemble either one of my parents. My ethnic background is German, Polish, French, East Indian, Irish and Liberian. I always let people know that I am all of these things—one does not exist without the other. It is another way I identify with people, showing them I'm just like them. One person’s disbelief that I could possibly have German ancestry led him to suggest I ask my father if my mother had an affair with the mailman! It was difficult not to feel self-conscious about my ethnicity.
I was fortunate to learn quickly that personality goes a long way. I saw that I had the ability to change people’s perceptions, stereotypes, and skepticism by being sincere, funny, and honest. My self-awareness led me to see that I do have what it takes to succeed. So all those discouraging words did not undermine what I have at my core—drive, ambition, perseverance, talent, trust, and most of all faith. I truly believe that there is no such thing as the impossible. I only know how to make the impossible become possible.
And so back to my journey in the Entertainment Industry: I
have been hustling in Los Angeles for the past nine years to make my dreams come true. I start my day at 4:30 a.m. working until midnight. I work two jobs, mentor trouble youth, produce films, host a weekly radio show, act, perform as a comedian, and after completing this article, I can add published writer to the list. I have found L.A. to be the most magical place on earth. The people are open and understanding. There are thousands of artists who work as hard as I do every day—struggling to make the impossible, possible.
Despite all the drive and effort it takes, I also see my colleagues dreams diffuse from lack of follow through, drive, and just plane laziness. This infuses me with even more passion to pursue my goals and dreams. Being an artist is about the journey, it’s a marathon. I have been told countless times that I am talented and will be very successful in this business when “the right part comes along;” but I choose to not wait for my dreams to come true by someone else’s hand. I chose to create them. I stay involved in many aspects of the business because I know where I want my journey to take me, and at the end of the day, after all the hustling, running around, networking, emailing, auditioning, and phone calls, I go to bed at night knowing I am the only one who feels that ultimate goal. I stick to my childhood lesson that hard work pays off. This knowledge and fortitude helps me now as I work through obstacles and continue to work toward my vision.
And there have been obstacles: the numerous auditions, followed by rejection; the endless envelopes stuffed with headshots; the numerous film shoots with no pay. I’ve been told to lose weight, gain weight, cut my hair, grow my hair; be more black, be more white, be more Hispanic—can you learn Russian by tomorrow?!
And then there have been many more successes: my commercials, my plays, the soon-to-be cult film Easter Bunny Kill Kill. I have performed stand up at the world famous Comedy Store on the Main Stage, Jon Lovitz Comedy Club and Ice House. I produced several short films and am now producing my first feature film, which I will act in as well. And the biggest success of all are the many friendships that have developed over the past the nine years. These experiences, these connections bring me closer to my goal.
Someone once asked me how long would I work to make it in the entertainment business. My response is always the same: however long it takes. I am a student of the craft. I’m learning about what fulfils me, fulfills my passion, and magnifies my strengths and abilities. I may not look like everyone on television and film, but with our changing society, I am becoming the norm. I am the new “face” of my multi-ethnic generation, the New Hollywood, so to speak.
Every person has his or her own obstacles and hurdles; every artist has a story to tell, but in the end we are doing it together. I don’t compete with anyone. I have nothing to prove to anyone. However, I do know in my heart this is what I want to do, and that gets me up every morning to work toward my dreams.
Do I still need non-creative jobs to pay my bills? YES. But I would not change a thing. I am an artist, and will always pursue my art. When the going gets tough I am comforted knowing art sees no skin color, financial status, family background, social status and most of all, it has no deadline. With the right people on my side, I am able to continue on my journey. I can see my future. My strong family ties and friendships, along with my own drive, keep me positive and motivated. I am proud of who I am. I make no excuses. I can see the finish line because the dreams I create will one day become my reality. I am an artist among artists, and together we create magic because we have faith.
“The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had means, time, influence and educational advantages; the question is what he will do with the things he has. The moment a young man ceases to dream or to bemoan his lack of opportunities and resolutely looks his conditions in the face, and resolves to change them, he lays the corner-stone of a solid and honorable success.”
--Hamilton Wright Mabie
Charlotte Marie www.charlottemarie.org
*Please note that not all experiences, beliefs and ideas are shared by each member of the “The New Hollywood.” We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.