Ellen did it on her sitcom.
Anderson Cooper did it in an email.
It’s only appropriate that I do it on my blog–something that’s been a constant comfort for me for years.
I am proud to say that last week, while talking with my boss in her office–I came out…as an actress.
I know, I know, it’s a completely different closet, not as significant as people coming out about their sexuality, but level with me here. I’ll attempt to explain why it was just as moving and empowering for me personally.
From the moment I stepped off of I-40 and into the City of Angels, I was branded with one of the worst stigmas imaginable in this town:
Since this is the Movie Capital of the World, it’s only natural that anyone interested in joining the prestigious and ofttimes lucrative industry would flock here.
Unfortunately, there are no benchmarks or qualifications assigned to bearing the title of “actor”–anyone can say that they are one, and, in fact, a lot of people who have never stepped in front of a camera or graced the stage do.
In short, we’ve got a bunch of flakes running around this town setting a bad reputation for people who are serious about pursuing this profession. Calling out of work for silly reasons, unfocused and idealistic, this type of actor is even worse than the worst hipster. Double suck-points if they’re a ‘flaky actor/hipster combo’.
Since my parents and extended family are not funding my dream chasing, I knew I had to find a “survival job” and becoming a waitress was something in which I had no interest. Every waiter and waitress in this town is an actor, and I’m not exaggerating. A lot of times, restaurants will require applicants to submit their headshots along with an application. Food service ain’t my thing, though.
I applied to quite a few childcare jobs, as that is another of my specialties, being completely honest and open about my career aspirations. Twice I was bluntly turned down from positions for the sole reason that I was interested in pursuing acting.
So, being the logical person that I am, I decided it was time for me to clam up about my true passion and find a job (also why I am attempting to blog anonomously)!
In essence, I was denying a very important part of my identity.
Now securely in the closet, I found work as a personal assistant, it’s got the perfect flexible schedule, and a way cool boss. And every day, for the past 5 months, I’ve lived in mortal terror that she would somehow find out my secret and ‘can’ me.
It sounds ridiculous but it’s not uncommon out here in LaLa Land. Yes, it’s discrimination, yes it’s unfair but it’s equally hard to prove in a court of law. They can always drum up other reasons to have terminated someone.
Any references to movies or TV shows that my boss made, I feigned ignorance:
No, I haven’t seen “Footloose” and I don’t even know what “The Godfather” is about. Oh, you spotted me as a background extra on Fox’s hit TV show New Girl? No comment.
No, literally, I awkwardly said nothing in response.
To my surprise, one day last week, completely out of the blue, my boss just came out and said “Do you want to be an actress?”
“That’s totally okay with me,” she replied.
A 3,000 pound weight magically lifted from my shoulders.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, I honestly thought you’d fire me if you found out.”
“No,” she responded assuredly, “I completely support you.”
We went on to have an incredibly life-affirming conversation that I consider one of the single happiest moments of my time here in LA. I’m going to keep the details to myself, something shared only between me and my boss, because I’m admittedly pretty selfish.
But it was just what I needed to feel comfortable in my own skin and to proudly and confidently declare: I AM AN ACTOR.