La La Land. I know I know. This is the blogger subject of the moment. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a great piece on his take on the film. Satirical show Saturday Night Live did a pretty spot on skit on the consequences if you don’t like the movie. I tiptoe very carefully when I’m asked if I enjoyed the film, especially in my family. My husband David and I are at an impasse. Now, if you don’t know my husband let me tell you a little bit about him. He’s an actor, attended ACT in San Francisco, his favorite actor is Klaus Kinski. He’s a pretty serious guy. However, this is the first time we have switched perspectives. He loved the movie and thought it was, what was the word he used, oh yes, lovely. I’ve never heard him describe a movie or really anything and anyone else with that specific word in the 17 years we’ve been together. He’s aghast at my distaste for the film. He says I’m being cynical and it’s not a cynical movie. Excuse Me?
La La Land is not about Los Angeles; it’s about La La Land. Individuals who move to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams and connect with others and all things imaginable. I get it; The offramp to our hopes, dreams and good weather. David came here from Northern California via a 1972 Datsun 510, which is still in our driveway. He has been pursuing his dream ever since. Enough about him. I guess the bigger question is what happened to my dream?
When I was in my twenties, it was all so fresh, clear and new. I went to college. I loved it. Acting, the theater, everything about it was magical. Opportunities were open to me. I did odd jobs to pay the bills, but who cared when I got off work, I started rehearsing a show in a 60 seat theater and loved every minute of it. Landing an agent was relatively easy for me. I went on auditions, I was cast in a few commercials and bit TV shows. Hey, it was the 90’s. But ever so slowly certain experiences changed the way I started to view my dream. While I was watching LaLa land, I was finding parallels in my own life and how different the outcome was. In the movie, a casting director attended one of the main protagonists, Mia’s, one-person show. She was invited to audition and she got the part. How many times did a casting director come to see my show and I auditioned for them with either a “thanks for coming in” or “you weren’t quite right for it but I’ll keep you in mind.” One time an agent came to see a show that I was in and invited me to his office. I thought that finally, I was going to have a “big agency” represent me. What happened, he wanted to date me. No thank you. La La Land was slowly fading and Los Angeles was becoming my new landscape. My heart was beginning to crack. On one particular memorable afternoon, I left an important audition and afterwards felt an emotion I’d never experienced with my career, total heartbreak.
See heartbreaking for a little while is doable. Heartbreaking for fifteen years is a long distance marathon that never ends. Eventually, I took a detour. I remember the day exactly, just like Mia, I gave up out of emotional survival. Unlike her, I didn’t go back the next day or the following week or month. I ended taking a promotion in my day job and ended up being successful in a different career. However, something was missing for me and at various times I looked back wondering if I did the right thing. I never quite felt like myself. After I had my daughter there was a feeling or need or maybe it was just realizing I must express myself creatively. It became apparent it was necessity for me to move forward. I also had a huge desire for my daughter to know me, not just the mom that came home from work everyday, but one the woman who can produce, write, and drive my own creative projects.
Besides my husband, I have close friends still going for it, auditions, acting classes. Women in their forties. No one needs to tell them it’s challenging. Being an artist is not like any other. You are a vulnerable being, putting yourself out there for the cruelest of scrutiny, but you wouldn’t have it any other way. Because really there is no other way to live your life. But it is not La La Land anymore, just the City of Angels where you can still choose to be anything.
I have softened a bit on La La Land, (believe me) I have my issues with it. I still see the beauty of having dreams and fulfilling them in even the smallest of ways however bittersweet. Maybe La La Land is for the young, I’m not sure. As I’ve somewhat matured, I strive to find balance between family, work, and creativity in my city of Los Angeles.