State: New York
Main Hustle: Actor in voiceover and theater.
Side Hustle: Founder of Elemental Women Productions, a women-focused production company in NYC.
How did you get started?: I got started in acting when I was six and fell in love. I grew up working in musical theater and then moved to NYC in 2012 when I was 18. After graduating I really found out what the entertainment industry really is. I would (and still do) spend hours a day submitting myself for projects, running between auditions, recording, rehearsals, and performances. I love it. I love being busy, but it starts to drain you when the roles you are getting auditions for and booking are not the stories you want to be telling. Often the roles would be “the girlfriend,” “the bitchy, best friend,” or even “hot, suicide girl.”
In December 2018, I had had enough. I had been in a string of projects that said they were one thing and were actually another. Women’s issues were used as a joke, a shock factor, or to tell the male lead’s story. I was there as a sidepiece when my character’s story was what we were supposed to be telling.
So I asked my friend who is a writer to write me a play, and I would figure everything else out. The play was to only have women roles, a small cast, and talk about things that actually effected us as women. That is how Elemental Women Productions started. We went on to develop that play to a staged reading and then on to a full production. Since then EWP has produced a podcast, another staged reading, a film, and a video project all within 18 months of launching.
When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: I work on EWP whenever I can grab a chance. I am often creating copy and graphics on my phone on the subway or writing emails to cast and crew and writers at home or sometimes at a co-working space.
What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: Funding is a huge one. NYC is not cheap to produce film and theater, and I make sure that everyone involved is paid, which hikes up the budget a lot.
It sounds odd to say that I have to make sure people get paid, but when you work in entertainment it is so common to be asked to work for free or “exposure,” so I worked it into my business model that everyone would get as much as I could afford to pay them.
Other than that NYC is a crowded market as is online. I spend a lot of time making sure that what we are creating and working on is real and honest, but that often means it will be buried in the mass amount of content available.
What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: Knowing I am bringing good into the world.
One of the projects I produced last year is A Series on Surviving. It was the first film I attempted to produce, and it explores the inner monologue of survivors after they have experienced sexual violence. It is a hard topic to work with, trying to balance the power and not overdramatize it. But what I do know is that if it helps one person realize they are not alone, or feel seen and heard, then it will have done its job.
Who is your greatest supporter?: My husband, for sure. He is constantly helping me and reminding me how far I have come when I feel I am not doing enough to make EWP as big as it could be. He is there at every production and usually making me cups of tea to help me keep going. His support and unwaivering optimism has done more good than I think he realizes.
Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: I want to share stories in the world that I didn’t see—stories that are real, honest, not overdramatized for shock value.
I want to make sure women feel seen and heard, that their stories are more than a plot point for the hero. They are the hero.
Have you received recognition for your work?: Our film, A Series on Surviving, was part of The Agoraphobia Film Festival in April 2020. I was also nominated for Best First Time Film Maker for The Alternative Film Festival in Toronto (March 2020). Most recently A Series on Surviving is an official selection for Frostbite International Film Festival.
What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: That I can afford to pay everyone involved in each project including myself a living wage and still break even.
Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?: It is not easy.
Know that you might not be as successful as you want when you want to be and that is okay.
This content was originally published here.