Essays

Acting the Part: My Journey As an Aspiring Actress in Hollywood

I came to L.A. from a small town. Oley, Pennsylvania, to be exact. You’ve never heard of it? Don’t worry; no one has. That’s part of its charm. Hollywood is really built up out of small town folks like me who ran away to follow their big dreams in the city of lights. Thinking this way has helped me see this town as a whole lot smaller, and a lot less scary. We’re all just doing the best we can with what we’ve been given. 

Upon my arrival here a few years ago, I unpacked my few belongings at a filthy sublet I found on Craigslist. I got lost traveling around town trying to find the local L.A. Casting office I read about online. I trotted my headshot in there like I was the next Scarlett Johansson and swaggered out sure that I would be called for a few auditions that week. As I walked out, I passed about five other girls walking in who looked just like me. Maybe this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought? 

I enrolled in a few different acting classes and met a slew of new people. Some of them had been pursuing the business their whole lives while others were just barely getting started. Where I learned the most about my abilities, though, was in the actual audition. In front of the casting directors, I saw and felt parts of myself that I never knew existed. The energy, adrenaline and nerves were as exciting as they were scary. 

Next, I went to Central Casting, an extra agency that casts background actors. While being in the background wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, I figured I would give it a shot. A friend of mine told me that doing extra work would be a great way to meet people, and it was. Although extra work was far from the most glamorous lifestyle (to put it gently), it was a great opportunity for me to get on set and see the behind-the-scenes process. I schmoozed with the production assistants to get to know them and (more importantly) have them get to know me.

In addition to extra work, I also got cast as a stand-in and as a photo double for many different movies and TV shows. I eventually landed a few featured roles for which I received Screen Actors Guild vouchers. After acquiring three vouchers, I was eligible to pay to join SAG, which is exactly what I did.  Now that I was SAG, I knew that I really needed representation to get me in the door to some great auditions. To my excitement, I soon got an interview with an agent to whom I had sent my headshot and resume a few weeks back. I sent out about 100 packages, and only received one call. The pressure was on. The day of my interview was coincidentally my birthday. It was a rainy day as I headed to Burbank when I got rear-ended by a large SUV that pushed my car into oncoming traffic. Fortunately for me, I maintained composure and was not injured (no cars were coming). Determined, I still made it to my audition, and I got the agent. Hallelujah! 

Many months passed, and few auditions came in. I thought January’s “Pilot Season” would be my big chance, but my phone was quiet. I submitted myself daily on online casting websites for student films and other SAG work, but I was losing steam. I booked a few small roles, but my morale was down and so was my bank account.  In an attempt to differentiate myself from all of the other 5’6” blonde, blue-eyed wannabes, I brainstormed ways to make myself stand out. What the industry really needed more of, I thought, was funny women. I enrolled in a stand-up comedy class where I was the only female. I spent 10 weeks dissecting the world around me to come up with a pretty funny seven-minute set that I performed with my class at a theatre in Hollywood. I admit that I was very nervous, but in all fairness, I had reason to be! I was on stage trying to make people whom I had never met before laugh out loud. That night I did get a few laughs, but I wasn’t great, and my career was short-lived (I performed about four more shows). I decided being a stand-up comedian was not for me, but the experience makes for a great story, and I have a DVD to prove my bravery. 

After a few years in Los Angeles, my dream started getting blurry. I started questioning my desired career path. I loved acting, but I was gaining interest in going to school and pursuing other interests. I didn’t stop pursuing acting because I didn’t want to act; I stopped because I wanted to go to school more. Today, I attend West Los Angeles College and California State University Dominguez Hills concurrently so that I can finish my academic program faster. I am a busy full-time student studying Communications/Public Relations. I will receive my Bachelor’s Degree next year, and I am very excited about my next career journey. I will always keep professional pictures on hand and my SAG dues paid up. If a great acting opportunity happens to come along, I will be happy to take it. 

There is no formula for “making it” as an actor in L.A. Everyone’s path is different in regard to acting, which is just one of the many reasons why it’s so difficult to succeed as an actor in L.A. Everyone has a different combination of what works for him or her. At the end of the day, success equals the right opportunity plus preparation, with a dash of luck. Everything else is yours for the making. Throw in a lot of perseverance, good comedic timing, and a few fake tears, and you might find yourself a paid acting gig!  More than anything, I’ve learned that I can and will do what I set my mind to. Every career path requires a lot of perseverance, but the entertainment industry is especially tough. I am proud of all my accomplishments and look back fondly on my entire adventure trying to “act the part” in L.A. Although my path is leading me in a new direction now, I will always be an actress at heart.

squaresJamie Freiburghouse


0 Originally from the East Coast, Jamie Freiburghouse moved to Los Angeles in 2004 and currently resides in Culver City. In addition to being a full-time student, Jamie is an active volunteer at Ken Mar Animal Rescue and works part time doing marketing and public relations for her family’s small business. She aspires to have her own business some day and doesn’t rule out the possibility of getting back into the entertainment industry when the time is right.