Saturday, August 25, 2007

Adventures of a Girl in La-la Land (Part One)

A little over a year ago, I left my east-coast confines, everything and everyone I knew, and moved to Los Angeles. When I landed in Burbank, CA and stepped out into the street, I knew. This was the place, this was where I belonged. It felt like home from the get go. I was renting a room in a condo in downtown Burbank. It's what most people would call a suburb of LA, but with a small town feel. Streets are shut down for farmer's markets, classic car shows, and block parties during the summer. Commerce is dominated by little mom and pop restaurants and stores. But, most importantly, it has a Target. :)

Like most people who arrive in La-la land, I came with dreams of career and wild successes. Unlike most people, I did not come with delusions of grandeur. I didn't move to LA to become the next big star. I came to work, to do what I love and pay my bills doing so. I'm still working on that one. I've learned to love shopping at the 99 cent store, which has name brand food and good produce rather than the junk most people think of. I've learned that savings is an incredibly valuable thing to have, but you've got to protect it with your life. And I've learned that to be happy and pursue what you love is more important than anything else.

Most people who move to LA to pursue "the dream" bail after they aren't discovered in a month. That's the average and it's astounding the people can be so naive to think that in a month they will be the next big thing. But I came with a plan. Get headshots, get an agent, get a "survival job," keep going...and never give up. Within a month, I had headshots and a survival job. I was making big bucks working as a personal assistant for an executive recruiter. The woman was a bitch and treated me like crap, but I put up with it. In a few months, I'd already booked my first gig in a short film, destined for festivals. We shot it up in Malibu and it was a fun time.
Eventually, I couldn't take the emotional abuse from my bitchy boss anymore, so I quit my job and acquired a new one working from home. Working from home doesn't really pay all the bills and can get isolating, but it gives me the flexibility to go on auditions, which is what I desperately need. I moved into my own one-bedroom apartment a hop, skip, and a jump from Hollywood, but I'm still in "the valley." (Where the term valley-girl originated :) I got a gig in a play in Hollywood called Eavesdropper and I've been performing on stage for the last 7 months. It doesn't pay, but it will soon. It's a way for my work to be seen. And it's paid off in a big way. A casting director came to see the show and casted me in a film. It's a small supporting role, but the proposed budget is about $65M. Of course funding isn't in place yet, so I can't bank on it. Mostly it just gave me confidence to know that I am good enough at my craft to get parts in films. Little successes keep me going in the fight that most people lose.

-Jess Raskins

Jess Raskin was born and raised in Virginia. She made her feature film debut at age 7 in John Water's Cry-Baby as Susie-Q opposite Ricki Lake and Johnny Depp. From there she worked in commercials and theater in the DC area. She attended the College of William & Mary, graduating in 2005 with a double major in Classics and Marketing. After doing the "smart" thing by getting a college degree, it was time to be risky! She packed up her stuff and moved to the City of Angels, 3000 miles away from everyone and everything she'd ever known. She currently lives in NoHo, a few minutes outside Hollywood with her three bunnies. Jess currently is performing in Hollywood in a play called Eavesdropper, which is destined to open in NYC in early 2008!!

Jess's Myspace and Homepage

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