As an actress, if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s shift. Whether it’s shifting into character or shifting into a new role — you always have to be ready.
But I don’t think anyone was ready for the world to shut down the way it did last March, when the coronavirus ushered us headfirst into a new, digital, “everything on Zoom” reality. The idea of shifting suddenly didn’t seem so easy.
As a young actress and producer, I was excited about what the future held for me in early 2020. I had a few big projects in the works, some high profile auditions under my belt, and my big break was so close I could feel it. Then, on March 19th, 2020, Los Angeles shut down. Just like that. Hundreds of thousands of actors, writers, producers, showrunners – essentially anyone involved in a Hollywood production – were left jobless, and no one knew what would come next.
Even worse, hundreds of thousands of more people were about to die from COVID-19. It was a crazy, emotional, unreal time. So what did I do? I shifted. Not overnight. I’m not trying to make it sound easy. But I did it. That means you can, too.
Here’s how I shifted my career online — and how you, too, can come back from a career setback.
Take the time to feel your emotions
Like losing anything in life, you have to give yourself time to grieve. And I really, really learned how to grieve in 2020. I lost four family members that year. Add in an unprecedented shutdown and the fallout I’d witnessed over the fight for black lives and I was ready to retreat. Overwhelmed by all the loss and devastated by the thought of my acting career ending before it even really took off, I shut down. I stopped talking to my friends and family. I completely withdrew as my contacts in the business dried up. Listen, I’m not advocating for isolating yourself — everyone processes emotions differently. But don’t feel bad about doing what you need to do to take care of yourself before, or in the midst of, picking yourself up and moving on. Whether it’s camping out on the couch for a few days, taking a hike with a friend while you vent your frustrations or just allowing yourself to cry — do what you have to do to feel better.
Start with what (and who) you know.
As I watched one of my friends perform via live stream one night early on in the pandemic, I realized this could be a path forward for me, too. Sure, stages and sets were shut down — but people still wanted to perform. That was my first “lightbulb” moment. I could maintain my craft and keep my spirits up — and perhaps, my career afloat — by doing the same thing. Better yet, as a forward-thinking producer, I could help other people make the switch, too (“lightbulb” moment #2). I started with my immediate circle — like, very immediate. My mom was my first client. But more did come, and my company, Creative Endeavors Artists, was born.
Find your true niche
Seriously. Figure out what you like, what makes you happy – and not to sound totally cliche – what brings you joy. If you try to be something you’re not, people will see right through you. Even worse, you’ll be miserable. I loved acting and producing, I knew that since I was a little girl. I was still doing what I loved, just on a smaller screen.
Understand that it will always be work.
You know that saying, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” ? It’s not true. I mean, I love acting and producing. I love helping others hone their craft, or connecting a super talented client to the right brand for them. But that doesn’t mean every part of my day is wonderfully exciting. I’m still running a business, and there are parts that are really not fun. Hiring people, firing clients, budgeting — it’s all part of it. But doing that stuff – or delegating those tasks to someone else when I can – allows me to freely do the things that do make me happy. So if you find yourself frustrated over spreadsheets or busywork, it doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Keep checking in with yourself as you work toward the bigger goal: Does this still make me happy? Yes? Keep going.
Always move forward.
Hollywood was far from the only industry to change drastically when the pandemic hit. So many business owners have been forced to adapt to the “new normal.” But with or without a life-changing lockdown, new technology and new generations will mean you’ll always have to keep your eye on the next thing to stay current, relevant and successful. So don’t be afraid of change. Embrace it. That is what will set you apart from your competitors. At the same time, don’t lose sight of why you started your business in the first place. Dreams matter.
Hollywood was built on dreams. I’m holding on to mine.
This guest post was authored by Adaya Jaye
Recently featured in Authority magazine and TheatreArtLife, Adaya Jaye is the CEO and founder of Creative Endeavors Artists. As a creative artist herself, she launched her company during the pandemic to support artists and brands as they adapt and thrive amidst continuing uncertainty. Today, CEA is expanding beyond their inner circle and actively developing long term influencer, brand and audience connectivity through influencer development, partnerships with sustainable brands, ambassador relationships with emerging social platforms and full service in-house productions. Learn more on their website.
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