It’s a funny thing, how we affect the people we come into contact with. I like to think of people like blocks of clay, fresh and unmolded when you are born – straight out of the packet. And the people you come into contact with in your life are leaving fingerprints on you, maybe the more influential are molding you to a new shape, or adding bits onto you.
A book I was reading challenged me to think of 3 Influential people in my life. My mind instantly raced to my parents, both hugely supportive and massively inspiring in their own ways. With all the Film and Television dreams I’ve had (and have been slowly realizing in my real life) my parents have always stood by like cheerleaders, but neither of them are in anyway stage-parents. Neither of them have ever said “This is what you are doing. Do what we say.” I’m pretty sure my Dad wanted me to be a vet or to do commerce at Uni (I’m also pretty sure he told my Grandmother this pretty hardcore until I was actually ENROLLED to do a BA…sorry Faja), and I’m pretty sure my Mum’s only advice was “Do a degree with the name of a job in it” (oh how I wish I’d heeded that one!)
Outside that they’ve been pretty hands off.
So how do I find myself in the current life situation I am in? Physically, being in Canada I mean, I have my parents to thank for being Expat Traveler sorts who always made it seem so easy to move countries (which it is turns out) and then my friend Alex is really responsible for me coming in the first place when she was all like “hey wanna go work at a summer camp in Canada?”
And escape the reality of getting a job after my two degrees? Duh Alex, DUH.
But when I look back at my life and what drove me to keep pushing myself to get into this industry, how I got that first taste, and all the opportunities that feel like they were “right place right time” scenario’s, three Influential people stick out, and here we go.
3 people who made a Difference in the career direction of my life
The Primary School Bully.
We moved countries quite a few times during my childhood (I think my youngest brother went to between 7-9 schools during his education) and hey guess what?! When you move countries frequently you have to move schools. And moving schools means you’ve got to be the new kid. And being the new kid sucks (ever wondered why I make it my mission to include the fringe dweller/new kid in any and all situations – because I know that feel bro.) As an adult, I’ve learned valuable life lessons from those shitty shitty times. I can walk into a room where I don’t know ANYONE, and walk out with 10 new friends.
But lets go back to a time when I wasn’t quite as awesome. Primary school (which is Australian speak for Grades K-6). I moved schools 3 times during this period and suffered my fair share of bullying (let’s be honest, we all did, and if you didn’t…well guess who was the bully). Bullying sucks, whether it is physical, emotional or verbal. And I suffered from the Emotional/Verbal kind. There was a girl who made me feel like absolute shit. She excluded me, taunted me, tried to bring me down every opportunity she had (in later years she grew into a perfectly nice human being, but there was a time when I loathed her.)
Why do I bring her up in this blog post? Because she is linked to the earliest memory I have of wanting to be in Film and TV.
I had had an awful day at school. I was still relatively new and just. hated. everything. I was crying in the bath (remember when we had baths?!) and I must have been 9 or 10 years old and I remember so clearly thinking:
“You know what I’m going to do?! I’m going to become a famous Movie star and that will show *Bully*. That’ll show them all! Then when I’m famous, she’ll try to be friends with me, and I’ll pretend I don’t even know her!”
Kids are dicks.
But I am totally grateful for that (at the time) horrible bullying experience. Although the anger and hurt has long since vanished, the drive remains – not to “show them all” but maybe I still feel like I have something to prove?
The Production Manager
When I was doing my Masters, something must have clicked in my brain that the only real work experience I had, was as a part time receptionist and EA. And after mindlessly stapling things a few days a week, I realized if I had to do that for the rest of my life, I’d probably drink bleach. So I started applying to companies for any Internship (read: slave labor) type experience I could. And out of the 80 or so emails I sent, 3 people emailed me back. Two said: thanks but no thanks, and One said: Come on in for an interview.
The Production Manager I met had worked on some of my favorite TV shows (like Survivor) and she and I just clicked, straight away. She took me on, taught me things, treated me like a friend, and when an opportunity to work on a Reality TV show came up – she put me on it straight away. She told people I was great – and basically tooted my horn for me, she put me in touch with people she thought could help me, and basically became a mentor (unofficially). If she hadn’t taken me on, I’m not sure I would have fallen in love with the Production side of creating content the way I did, and I have no idea where I would have ended up. I don’t know why she went out of her way for me, but she did, and as a result I have spent the last few years loving the Film and Television industry from an angle I never thought I would.
The Producer (and Friend)
The third and final influential person is still very much a part of my life. Although I only met her a year ago, she is the reason I now have a demo reel to flash at people, and the reason I am back in front of the camera.
I started volunteering at a community Television station here in Toronto on a morning show. Pretty quickly (because I am excellent at making new friends) the Producer and I struck up a friendship and would be sometimes less than serious up in the control room (like the time she blasted Eye of the Tiger through the crew’s headsets, with me singing the bits I know and the audio volunteer getting more and more pissed-off). After a few weeks of volunteering to do the “Community Events” on camera for the show, she asked me if I’d like to go along to an audition for a Reporter Role.
And I said yes. And here I am, violating your homes through the magic of Television.
If she hadn’t thought to ask me or had forgotten, I never would have had the opportunity to do what I now desperately love and which has led to auditions at other channels.
The little things add up to big things, and people inspire you in amazing ways (even if you can’t see it at the time).
I have been very, very lucky.