I grew up in a beachside suburb in Sydney, Australia where at a very young age I found my love for the entertainment industry and performing on stage and screen. My weekdays basically consisted of school and dance training and my weekends were spent performing. I attended a performing arts high school so my training in the arts continued, but my focus was beginning to change from dance to acting. This led me to audition successfully for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles.
So at the young age of nineteen, I moved to Los Angeles, alone, 8000 Miles from my family and friends. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done and to this day and I still find it hard being away from my family, friends and pets. Saying goodbye was incredibly sad teamed with the fear of what to expect when I arrived in Los Angeles. What if the school was bad? What if my roommates were awful? I began to worry. Luckily it all turned out fine and I ended up loving every minute at the Academy, from the inspiring teachers to meeting new friends and exploring Los Angeles on the weekends.
Moving to a huge and competitive city that I was unfamiliar with was super tricky, it took me a while to understand how everything worked, where to get this, where to get that, what was safe and what wasn’t. Adjusting to life without seeing my family every day was a huge challenge and extremely hard as we are a close family who usually do a lot of things together. It’s really tough when you’ve had a bad day and just want a hug from your mum or dad. To add to that challenge, calling or face timing family and friends with a seventeen hour time difference is almost impossible, with school, work and sleep it can be very frustrating. Looking back on my move to Los Angeles, I still can’t believe that I had the courage to do it.
After three years of living here it saddens me sometimes that I lost precious time with my family by moving out of home so early and growing up too fast. Missing out on the little things is the hard part, but my parents do try and visit me as much as they can and I have also made a couple of dashing trips back home. Luckily in 2019, my younger brother started college at Cal State Long Beach, making the USA a little more like home.
I graduated at the Dolby theatre from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts with an Associate Degree in Theatre in 2019 and part of that included an Optional Practical Training (OPT) visa. An opt visa is a one year visa to work in the field that you studied, which for me was acting. Knowing I was on such a short time limit to work in the USA was a great motivator and I pushed myself to work hard everyday and not waste a second of my 365 days. I noticed that all of the international students were quite frantic about securing auditions and representation the very minute we graduated, in comparison to the students that are citizens in the USA because they are allowed to work there permanently and they aren’t on a time limit.
Finding representation as an international student is also much more difficult. Most of the time they will not even meet with you unless you have a 01 visa or a green card and without representation it is also hard to secure auditions. Since graduating it’s definitely been a hustle out here, auditioning with people who look just like you, the constant competition and multitasking my side job with auditions so I can still afford to live here. Through the hustle I have landed lead and supporting roles for a few short films such as, ‘Face Off’, ‘Just’ and ‘The Ride’. I have also appeared in many TV commercials including ‘Beauty Blender’, Liquid IV and Flawless NuRazor where my years of dance training came in handy.
After many rejections, I finally secured representation in the USA with Manager Steven Salisbury as well as commercial and print agency – Sports Lifestyle Unlimited. I began going to multiple auditions and castings a week for quality films and productions whilst also attending weekly acting classes at Graham Sheils Studios and dance classes at The Edge Performing Arts. I was thrilled of how everything was moving! During this time I applied for the green card lottery, usually the chances are very slim but I luckily received an email stating I would be moving to the next round.
When COVID hit in March 2020, everything changed for me.
It’s been a very difficult time over the past few months. I, like many others was stood down from my part time job at The Montage Beverly Hills. The industry has shut down so I am getting no auditions. I live alone at the moment so I have felt quite isolated and sadly I have been separated from my family in Australia for the past 8months. Financially and mentally it has affected my life and my journey to remain in the United States of America. I am living off my Australian savings in Los Angeles, which is hard with the dollar being so tough. T
The hardest thing about living in Los Angeles during the COVID pandemic is just the uncertainty of when and if things will return to normality. It’s like living in limbo but I guess that’s what the whole world is doing at the moment. As the USCIS is closed, I have no idea if they are going to continue my green card lottery process or extend my OPT visa.
Right now I am currently in the process of applying for my 01 Visa for Extraordinary Ability, which is a long and lengthy process to prove you are amazing at your craft and deserve to remain working in America. Fingers crossed it all works out. Through this tough experience, I have found the positive side of Quarantine, focusing on learning new things, reaching out to old and new friends, and never taking anything for granted.
I want to help make the world a better place by conveying important stories through screen and movement and by using my powerful female voice to continue fighting for women’s rights and equality in the world. I have suffered a setback over the last few months but it has not deterred me, I will continue to keep chasing my Hollywood dream no matter how hard it’s going to be and what obstacles fall in my path.