Author: Melissa

My Film Career: Blood, Sweat, and (So Many) Tears

My Film Career: Blood, Sweat, and (So Many) Tears

“I just don’t think you have the drive.” Those words were said to me over a decade ago, after I finally found the courage to tell the one person I loved and trusted more than anyone my crazy dreams of pursuing acting and singing as […]

An Open Letter to My Best Friend (Or Anyone Doubting Themselves)

An Open Letter to My Best Friend (Or Anyone Doubting Themselves)

Dear best friend, When you told me you had an idea for something you wanted to pursue, but that it was stupid and you probably couldn’t do it anyway, it killed me. Nobody is allowed to say such things about my best friend. Nobody! I […]

What a Difference a Year (and Some Effort) Can Make

What a Difference a Year (and Some Effort) Can Make

One message I’m receiving over and over: What a difference a year (and some effort, and a scooch of bravery) can make.

Last September (in 2018), I attended the Norman Film Fest as a volunteer. It was my very first film career related event and I was so, so nervous about it. It touched on all my biggest fears: driving in a bigger city/unfamiliar place, going by myself to an event where I didn’t know anyone, and then talking to those people I didn’t know in an attempt to network and hopefully find gigs. I definitely woke up that morning thinking about how much I did not want to go.

I spent the first few hours there helping check people in, then I went to the panels the fest was hosting. I got the nerve up to talk to one filmmaker while we stood at a table looking at brochures, I asked one question during the panels (how to find PA gigs), and then one of the panelists talked to me afterwards about my question. Then I went home. It wasn’t much, but it was a big step for me at the time.

This year, I got an email asking if I would volunteer again. The festival holds a special place in my heart now, since I see it as the beginning of this career, so I went. And again, I saw just how much can change in the course of one year.

Driving to Norman? Ain’t no thang. I’ve been there several times now for auditions and acting classes. Meeting new volunteers and other attendees? No problem. I even volunteered to drive around Norman with one of the other volunteers to pick up things we needed (something formerly unheard of for me, because I would have been too nervous about making small talk with them while we ran errands).

After my volunteer time was up, I went to the panel discussions. To my surprise, I had met or worked with at least half of the people speaking on the panels. I listened to them talk about how to find an agent and how to find film work and found that, while I did take some notes, most of it was stuff I was already doing myself. When the panels were over, I made small talk with my new acquaintances and even went and got a beer with some of them. You guys! First of all, I barely drink beer. I have like one or two that I like. Secondly, hanging out with groups of people (besides my very closest friends) is still a super nerve wracking thing for me. That’s an introvert thing, for sure, but one I’ve been making a point to work on being more comfortable with. 2018 Melissa would have never, ever even considered such an activity. But! I really enjoyed hanging out with them and even found another beer I like. 🙂

At the end of the day, I went to actually watch some of the films. By myself. (Another thing that I am just now getting comfortable with, but really, it’s one of my new favorite activities.) I recognized a ton of people in both the audience and on screen. These are people I have either seen at other film fests or that I have worked with in the past year.

It was really awesome to realize both just how much I’ve grown as an individual and how much I was able to do in film in a year. I was not expecting a brand new Melissa to come out of this career pursuit, but I am super happy that that is one of the byproducts.

If you are tired of where you are, I want to encourage you to just take that first step towards the life you want. Things can change so quickly for you if you just go for it!




How I Landed a Talent Agent

How I Landed a Talent Agent

Like most things in my life, my path to getting signed with a talent agent was pretty unconventional (at least, it wasn’t how I imagine the process usually goes). I finally got the nerve to apply to two talent agencies back in February. My acting […]

How My Entire Life Changed in the Course of One Year

How My Entire Life Changed in the Course of One Year

I signed up for the Friends in Film program one year ago this month. When I joined, I had no idea just how much (and how quickly) my life was about to change. It did take about six months to actually get my first production […]

Trust That Gut (and Also, Do Things Instead of Waiting for Things to Happen)

Trust That Gut (and Also, Do Things Instead of Waiting for Things to Happen)

A few weeks ago, I applied for an office assistant position with a local talent agency. Their office is located in the city I would love to live in, plus it’s a job in the field I want to get into, so I figured it would be a good opportunity for me.

Then I had that really great film shoot, where I made awesome connections and felt like my PA career was finally moving forward.

When I was offered an interview for the job, I was first, shocked, and second, felt like it might actually now be a step backwards for me. I talked it over with my sister and decided I should do the interview anyway. Something in me told me I should. I figured if nothing else I would make another great connection in the local film industry and when I applied for representation again, they would at least know who I was.

I went and interviewed. I did not get a job, but I did get what may potentially be a really great step forward for me in this career I’m pursuing. (More details on that in blog posts to come.)

If I had just ignored my gut and stayed home instead of interviewing, I would have missed out on that. If I didn’t make an effort each and every day to find acting or PA gigs or work on my scripts or look for publishers for my music books I would never get these awesome opportunities I keep finding. I know that sounds super obvious but that was a huge epiphany for me. These opportunities aren’t going to find me if I sit at home wishing hard enough for them. My books won’t write themselves just because someday I dreamed of seeing my name on a bookstore shelf. I can’t make film industry connections if I sit at home on the weekends instead of driving myself here there and everywhere for film festivals and networking events and film shoots.

Because I have been doing all these things, I’ve started seeing some really awesome results. One of my film connections asked me to act in a short film for him. One of the casting companies I’ve worked with offered me a gig as an extra without me even applying for it. A publishing company I reached out to to see if they accept submissions asked me to send them one of my books and seem really interested in publishing it. Honestly, I’m not even doing that much. I could definitely be working a lot harder at this stuff. But even just a little bit of effort has gotten me opportunities I had only dreamed of before.

So to sum up what I’ve been learning: Ignore your fears, trust your gut, and actually do things to get you closer towards your goals. 🙂




When In Doubt, Do It Anyway

When In Doubt, Do It Anyway

Here’s a lesson I keep learning over and over: if there’s something you really want to do but you have doubts, ignore those doubts and do it anyway. This past weekend I worked as a production assistant on a short film about three hours from […]

March (and April) Madness: An Update for Anyone Interested in My Budding Film Career

March (and April) Madness: An Update for Anyone Interested in My Budding Film Career

Above: Me acting as art director for my friend’s short film. My goal at the beginning of the year was to blog twice a week. And as much as I’ve tried to keep my Sunday and Wednesday blog schedule, that has not always been possible […]

Why You Shouldn’t Shut Up About Your Goals

Why You Shouldn’t Shut Up About Your Goals

I recently read this article about how you should keep your goals to yourself.

I really dislike and disagree with this article.

Brendon Burchard, who has interviewed and studied some of the most successful people of today (you can read or hear more about this on his website or YouTube channel), suggests you do the opposite. Don’t be shy about your goals. Talk to people about them.

I’ve been following that advice for a year now, and here’s what I’ve seen in my own life:

  1. Sharing your goals with others will lead to opportunities you may not have found otherwise. Last year, a friend recommended me to a filmmaker friend of his that was making a short film for the 48 Hour Film Festival. Another friend sent me a Facebook post about local students who were looking for people to help with their films. I got a small role in a feature film because I told the director I want to be an actor. All of these came about because I told them what my goals are. I would not have found them on my own. (For the last one, he made up my role and lines on the spot the day of filming. I definitely would not have gotten that opportunity any other way.)
  2. Sharing your goals could inspire those around you. I love watching my friends set and achieve their goals and dreams. If they can do it, it makes me feel like maybe I can too. When they stumble along the way, it also helps me to realize I’m not the only one that struggles.
  3. Sharing my goals in a positive way (as opposed to the negative “My goal is to stop drinking sodas. It’s going to suck.” example the article gives) makes me more likely to achieve them. If I were to focus on the negative things that come with achieving my goals (for example, the often long days on a film set), I would definitely talk myself out of working on them. But if I focus on how awesome the outcomes of working towards my goals are (I get to work with awesome people, eat free food on set, travel, etc.), I’m much more likely to drag myself out of bed at 4:00 am to work on a film set. Doesn’t that positive one just feel so much better? Which mindset would you rather go in with? I’ve worked with plenty of people who choose the negative one, and it doesn’t do anyone any good.

He does make a semi-good point at the end. Some people are jerks. Some people don’t care about your goals. That’s fine. And I agree, don’t share them with those people. But I do not agree that you shouldn’t share them just because someone might get upset or jealous about them. Let those people deal with their own issues. Some people try to discourage you because they want to protect you. Some people say hateful things about your goals because they don’t have the guts to work towards their own. Know that their issue isn’t with you and move on to people who do support and encourage you.

So, yes, he is right in that you shouldn’t just share your goals and then not do anything else about them. But I have seen in my own life how sharing my goals and getting off my butt to achieve them has gotten me closer to my dreams than keeping those goals to myself ever did.




My First Professional Audition and How I Prepared for It

My First Professional Audition and How I Prepared for It

On Tuesday this past week, I submitted for a small role in a feature film. I have been submitting like crazy for any and all background roles I find, but I usually get too nervous to submit for featured roles. I received the casting call […]