My heart hurts to think I am leaving this amazing, incredible, alive, welcoming, perfect city. 5 years ago, I was a young girl with big dreams. I had just graduated college with a BFA in Acting, and couldn't wait to live in the magical city of New York.
Right after college, I packed my bags and decided to move in with my aunt who lived in New Jersey until I figured everything out. No money, no job, nothing. Living the actor’s dream. The dream at the time was Broadway. Within a few weeks, my aunt and I found ourselves hustling through the big city together, laughing and sweating in 90 degree heat looking at crazy small, shitty apartments for the equivalent price as most mansions everywhere else in the world. Walk up after walk up. Dive after dive. Until...
We found the perfect charming studio in the Lower East Side. I would be sharing this studio with my friend from Chicago who was also an actor. The studio was a walk up, with a run down kitchen, teeny-tiny bathroom, bars on the windows, and the whole place was the size of a shoe box. But we couldn’t care less. We were living in New York City, in the Lower East Side, on the cutest street in all of New York. It was a dream. We both looked for restaurant jobs while auditioning, trying to secure agents, and doing what most actors do. I remember the day we both applied for the restaurant that my roommate Meghan currently works at. I passed the personality test but ended up failing the math test. Twice. Damn percentages. They wouldn't let me work there.
Shoot. Now what? There was this cute Mexican restaurant on the corner of our street. It sounded perfect. I wouldn't have to travel far. So...I threw on my best, cutest, shortest black tight dress to impress the owner. He ended up hiring me even though I had zero experience. A few weeks in, I trained with the other servers. They were as hesitant of me as I was of myself being a server. It legit sucked. Then, the owner had me study the menu (which was in Spanish, of course) and told me he was going to give me a verbal test to see if I can start actually working. Even the drinks were in Spanish. And there were hundreds of them. The fact that I couldn't eat the actual dishes because of my nut allergy made it even harder to memorize. I failed the test. F-this. This restaurant life was not for me.
No worries. I started to apply for entertainment jobs and landed an internship with Daryl Eisenberg Casting & Aaron Grant Theatrical. This was the start to my new dream and passion. I went to Ripley Grier Studios everyday, and was constantly surrounded by actors. At the time, Daryl was casting Legally Blonde for the Norwegian Cruise Line. I got to sit in on the auditions and watch the creative process of casting. Hmmm... I liked this world. I didn't have to give up the dream of acting, but could still be involved and around creative people everyday. While working with Daryl, I made some long-lasting friendships that I will have for a lifetime. The internship was unpaid, and I had to find a way to live in my crazy expensive apartment. I applied for jobs, and ended up sitting in Bonnie Shumofsky's office at Abram’s Artist Agency. For those of you who don't know Bonnie Shumofsky, she is the top Children's agent in the country. Actually, the world. Number one. Numero uno. (See, I know some Spanish). Bonnie was hesitant about hiring me, though. She didn't like the fact that she was hiring an "actress.” But, somehow I was able to convince her to take a chance on me.
This job was life-changing. A master class in talent management. From my very first day, I was thrown into the fire, the fast-paced big-time fire. Bonnie has been such a key person in my life, and has mentored me these past 5 years in every aspect of the business. I learned an insane amount, not just about the business, but about myself. I transformed from a hesitant, sweet midwestern girl, into a thick-skinned New York Shark. Cheers to team Bonnie.
Fast forward to today. I have worked my way up to Talent Agent at STATE and have worked with the most incredible team and made relationships with some of the most interesting people in the world. Every single day, I get to meet unique, talented, diverse artists. I am so thankful for every photographer, actor, singer, dancer, producer, casting director etc. that I have met and worked with. I am constantly inspired, and it's because of this city and the people in it.
This last year, I also launched my Fashion and Lifestyle blog called Secret Girl. This was just another creative outlet for me, networking with some of the best fashionistas in New York. The hustle and energy in this city is contagious, and it is just made me want to do more and more. My type A personality wouldn't feel fulfilled unless I was constantly working, creating, and getting shit done.
Each year in New York got better and better. From a studio in the Lower East Side, to a huge 1 bedroom in Midtown East, to my now gorgeous dream apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, I was able to step my game up and take everything to the next level.
There is something about New York that gives me a high. The fact that you can throw on your headphones, start walking (the same route that you normally take) and still see a million new things you’ve never seen before. Every corner you turn, every step you take, there is a new adventure. It's like you are constantly on vacation.
These past 5 years have meant the world to me. I love every person who shared this crazy adventure with me, and helped me along the way. New York will always feel like home and it will always be such a huge part of me and my life. There are a crazy ton more experiences and memories that I share with this city, but this is a just a glimpse of my crazy, wonderful hilarious journey.
Next week, I move back home to Chicago. I love you New York. Goodbye for now.