As I sit on the NYC subway, my eyes heavy from jetlag and a red-eye flight, I can't help but reflect on the month I just spent away from home in Los Angeles. Before moving here to New York City, I had actually intended to move there to pursue a career acting in film and television. My car packed and ready to go, I answered the phone call from Donald Palumbo, the chorus master at The Metropolitan Opera, agreed to begin singing with the extra chorus, and moved here instead. It was quite a coup.
Since then, New York City has become my home, its subways my dear acquaintance, and its people my family. I have amazing performance opportunities in opera, classical singing, church and temple singing, musical theatre, puppetry, film and tv, and I love it here. Still, winter and seasonal depression make a trip to Los Angeles rather appealing, and I've been wanting to try it out for years. So I did.
With the help of some dear friends and amazing artists, I wrote my first short film, using a competition and Danny Elfman's soundtrack as inspiration (yes, I got to use Danny Elfman's music!). Bread and Butter's Liz Manashil directed, and it stars me, Christine Weatherup, and Kara Morgan. We even managed to feature Sean Wright as my ex-fiance and before you ask, no, there's actually no relation. It's about a woman who, spurned by her ex-fiance, decides the only way to gain control of her life is by sneaking into his house (with her sister) to steal back her lucky rock (stromatolite!). A nosy neighbor joins in the hunt, and one birthday cake is harmed in the making of this film. I'm biased, but I think our film Stealing Zen is great fun.
What a process! Even for a five-minute short, the amount of collaboration and hard work made me so grateful to create with such talented, respectful, and dedicated people. I'm humbled by the all of the talented cast and crew who worked with us. After what felt like a surprisingly short month, our editor James Dunovan sent us the final product, and poof! It's off to the competition for judging. Fingers crossed, please!
Aside from the short film, I had several auditions for opera, theatre, concerts, and film. Attending SAG-AFTRA workshops and connecting with casting directors became part of my weekly routine, one I intend to maintain here in NYC as well. I met with friends and experts, worked on branding, sang for a sing along group in Newport Beach, tried new restaurants, ate cake by the ocean, tasted wine, connected with family, and even met two young cousins in person for the first time.
Comparisons ensued, of course, between the two cities, and I have to say they are both differently wonderful. They each have their conveniences, weather, sights, and "vibes." I'll be the first to admit I missed my freedom to jaywalk but definitely not the darkness of winter. In the end, both NYC and LA have excitement, beauty and, I learned, incredible friends and people I can truly call family. I'm so grateful to have spent so much time there, and not just because I'm not seasonally depressed this year.
Perhaps most importantly, I felt the precious sense of presence that comes from knowing I only had one month in a place. Not just any place, but a city in which I could continue to build relationships, work on my career, and imagine myself returning. It was palpable - and a priceless lesson on the importance of using my limited hours on earth. So look out NYC and my newly expanded world, because I have brought that presence and intensified sense of purpose back with me, and I intend to use it.