Delusions of Grandeur: I Came Here to Be an Actress

4 years ago

In 24 hours, I will leave Los Angeles -- the place I thought I would live out the rest of my days.

I thought I would stay in LA forever -- it's not the best place to buy an affordable home, or find a good public education, or breathe quality air...

But it's where I was going to "make my mark."

You see, before I became a mom six years ago, I was an actress.

No, really.

Credit Image: Bill Selak on Flickr

I was an actual working actress (under a different name, Google fiends).

After getting my BFA and being classically trained, I moved to LA by way of Chicago and well... I was lucky.  I know dozens of extremely talented actors who pounded the pavement in Los Angeles for years and never got an agent... or a television gig... or a legit manager.

That wasn't the case for me.  I lucked out.  I did a movie with some fairly famous people that never made it to theaters.  It was however seen by an influential manager who took an interest in me.  She got me into meetings at the big studios within six months of me moving to the West Coast.  I did well.  I did some Indie flicks.  I did guest spots on network shows.  I was getting called in to see producers and read for series regular roles.  I shared audition waiting rooms with Stana Katic... and Lucy Liu ended up with one of the parts I read for.

Although theatre was my first love, the television and film world was incredibly enticing... and contrary to popular belief, I found it to be slightly more about talent and craftsmanship than it was about looks.

I loved it.

I wanted it.

I've always been a story teller -- that's why I fell in love with acting so young.

I wanted to tell stories that would prod that place in all of us where humanity rests.

I wanted to tell stories that would wet people's faces with laughter.

I wanted to tell stories that would last forever.

I'm not going to lie -- I also wanted the notoriety.

I wanted to be loved and adored, but I also wanted the notoriety because with it comes the responsibility and opportunity to make a difference...

a big difference.

I wanted to make people think.

I wanted to make people feel.

I wanted to help those that needed it.

I wanted to back humanitarian causes.

I wanted to inspire.

I wanted it all...

and then I got pregnant.

My husband and I planned to try and start a family as soon as we were married.  I just don't think either of us thought we'd be so good at it.  Four months into my honeymoon baby pregnancy, my agent and manager dumped me.  My manager was actually really sweet about it:

"As a mom myself, I know how hard it is to try and focus on something other than your baby right after you give birth... and I don't have the time to waste waiting for you to come back.  You're going to be a wonderful mother.  Perhaps down the road, when you've broken your way back in and gotten some more credits under your belt, we'll work together again."

She was right.  I barely left the house the first six months after my son was born.  A year later I tried going on commercial auditions, but with no child care, family, or friends to help -- I ended up dragging my baby boy along.  That didn't work for either of us.

So my husband and I made a plan.  We were going to have another baby and I was going to focus on the kids until our youngest was ready for preschool.  Then, I would enter the acting world again.  We would pay whatever we needed to pay for child care, new head shots, showcases, etc.  I just had to hold out until then.

That time would have been upon us next year...

except we're moving tomorrow.

You see, my husband got an outstanding job offer at a top five company.  It means relocating to San Francisco.

It was a choice between his huge career advancement and my soon-to-be-career-again that is presently nonexistent.

My career choice is not something that can be done anywhere in the country.  The heart of it lives here, in Los Angeles.

So I say goodbye to the one thing that has always made me happy -- the one thing other than blood that flows through my veins...

the career that I always thought I would go back to...

the career that had me counting down the months 'til I could be back in its ruthless arms.

I say goodbye to the dozens of casting notices that appear in my inbox every week.  I've been deleting them for years -- but never unsubscribed.

I leave the city that holds my dreams, because this move ensures college tuition for my boys...

it makes sports and music lessons possible without putting a strain on our budget...

and it's a dream job for my husband.

My dream for his.  Practicality deems it so.

I don't know how to give up my delusions of grandeur.

I feel like I'm supposed to leave a mark.

I feel like I'm supposed to make a difference.

But then again...

maybe I already have:




Jenni Chiu writes at

Not perfect, just right.

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