I couldn’t believe I got into Inner-City Filmmakers aka ICF.
At first, I was scared out of my mind. I just turned nineteen when I was accepted to the program. I hesitate to leave my job at the toy store because I loved it. I thought if I left for two months, they would fire me. I didn’t think I’d get into the film school or get the full scholarship but once it actually happened, I panicked. I lived at home and I had financial aid but I was attached to the job. For me, it was a safe place. It was where I got to escape from the drama in my home and get to taste a little freedom. I was oddly attached to the toy store and I am not even a huge fan of kids or toys. I spoke to my manager, Rissa. She was the best first manager a girl could ask for. She was an older woman with a sparkle in her blue eyes. She was beautiful and mesmerizing. The owners’ of Karen’s toys, Ron always seemed like the mean one while Karen seemed like the sweet one. Rissa suggested I call Karen and ask her for the time off. She said Karen was very supportive of her employees’ dreams. I called Karen with a ton of nerves and left her a voicemail. I never really saw Karen because she was always at another location. I spent most of my time with Ron.
Karen said yes. She said I shouldn’t miss such an opportunity and if I did I would be foolish. Ron was okay with it too even though the superstar as he called me would be leaving for two months.
A couple days before I was set to start school, I had my birthday. The ladies at the toy store threw me a birthday party. They got me a scrapbook to fill for the Summer and I was touched beyond words. My sister and my parents went in on a camcorder for my birthday. They thought this would help me in film school. Surprisingly, my parents didn’t say no to film school. Ani had warned me that my days would be long and I won’t have much free time. It would be six to seven days a week.
Before I left the toy store, Rissa revealed to me that she was once an actress. Rissa was always very private so the fact that she shared some of her life with me meant a lot. She was attending UCLA for acting when she dropped out because she was burnt out. She ended up as a flight attendant for fifteen years. She traveled the world and lived out of a suitcase. Eventually, she got tired of traveling so she decided to work at her dad’s toy store which is the same one she was working at now under the ownership of Ron and Karen. At the time, she started taking acting classes again at UCLA and she was close to getting her big break when her mother got sick. She never got her break and ended up staying at that toy store under her dad, then her brother, and then Ron. At the time, Rissa’s story made me sad. I saw this sadness in her eyes that I thought I understood but I had no idea. She explained how hard the industry was and is.
She said to me “you only stick with Hollywood if you love it enough. If you don’t love it then do something else. Anything else. Anything is better.”