The fish swam, reminding me of my own place. Perhaps we are all trapped. The familiarity of the immediate surroundings disguises how our dreams are blocked by walls. If only the wall could break, we could be let loose with infinite freedoms. I stared at the fish I had placed for a photograph and immediately picked up the bowl, ready to pour it into the sea. However, this fish could never thrive in such open territory, as it was not raised for such a life. Taking the bowl, I walked home. In time, will we all find a larger bowl.
Since it is a new year, I wish to contribute more to this website/blog/thingie because it has been such a collective of my life since starting high school. To share more and to write more creatively is always a goal of mine. So, here is a very short story I put together for a class I am taking this semester.
The concept of the assignment was to spend a few hours at the library in the photo book section and find a photo that stood out and reflected a theme from a list. I had a great time spending countless hours exploring the photo books and relaxing with an almond milk flat white (ah, yes…life of a caffeinated film student!) and simply taking in as many photographs as I could. I found this one and it spoke to me.
However, this all took place last week. For those of you who don’t know, I hit a wall last week. I flew back from a month in New York for winter break and instantly got overwhelmed (per usual) at the chaotic world of L.A. This semester is especially a big deal because I’m working on several productions, figuring out summer plans and all the side details of that, trying to finalize editing my third novel, and really kicking into full gear (or at least, elevated) for YouTube and acting. My main junior thesis short film is taking place this semester and last week, several things fell through with how I liked my original script ideas. So, I felt as if I was entering this semester not only overwhelmed, but far behind. This subjected me into a spiral of chaos and self-questioning.
Thankfully, I took a greatly needed escape trip for Sunday to the Getty Center and put the beauty of this crazy life here into better perspective. I got a look book together for the film, and now I am treading water, so to speak.
Point of the matter is, I wrote the short story at the top of this post for a project where I took the photo I found and wrote in less than one hundred words (it’s exactly one hundred words, by the way) a full story that fit the photo. Feeling trapped within a body that simply cannot do it all but having dreams far beyond (A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman soundtrack is on loop lately) makes life difficult sometimes. Addressing that truth makes life somewhat frustrating. So, I wrote a cool story to fit that theme and it went over pretty well in class today.
I hope you enjoyed this. Definitely reach out and talk to me either in person if you know me or online @sarahfhamilton.
Tis’ the season again to reflect on the past year, which has left me overwhelmed and amazed in the best of ways!
Another amazing year has past, and if you ask me, it flew by in a blink of an eye! I highly reccomend that everyone should reflect on their past year. I did for the sake of this post and I realized that so many amazing things had happened. I additionally want to personally thank those in my life whom made this past year so very uniquely special! Here is a little outline of my past year:
Flying back early from spending the holidays with my family in New York, I made it back to sunny LA to start my spring semester of my second year at LMU! After watching (and obsessing over) LA LA LAND, I went to Griffith Observatory! Also, I attended the People’s Choice Awards, visited Disneyland for the first time and had some VERY exciting life/career moments I can’t talk about here!
This was the month in which I had my first major audition for a network game show, saw LA LA LAND again with LMU|SFTV at the IMAX offices, performed in several shorts and an improv show, & had a photoshoot feature with Local Wolves magazine!
Living that LA life, I went on a press Warner Brothers Studio tour (featuring sets from La La Land, The Ellen Show, and Pretty Little Liars), visited the Radio Disney station and Disney/Freeform office building, went back to New York for “spring” break, acted and worked on thesis film sets, had my first official movie audition, & finalized the Local Wolves magazine questions for the feature.
School continued to be amazing as usual, especially since I directed a LMU|SFTV class tv episode! That month, I had also went to Downtown Disney and attended the Cystic Fibrosis concert event, had an interview feature for the Women of Upstate New York magazine, worked preview day and gave tours as an LMU campus tour guide, went to the Getty Villa in Malibu on Easter and attended The Outcasts movie premiere and after party.
Ending my second year of college (!!!), I moved into my first LA off-campus apartment. I attended the Once Upon a Time musical episode private screening event (and freaked out) at Disney Studios after an audition in Burbank and met the creators. In regards to summer plans, there was a LOT of chaos with emails, videos, and all that fun adulting stuff. However, I worked on a ton of YouTube videos and even attended an event at YouTube Space LA where I saw Tyler Oakley again.
Back home to New York for the remainder of the summer, I spent a ton of much appreciated time with my absolutely wonderful family! I got a job as a videographer for a local theater group and even attended the local Jazz Fest event since my brother was performing at it. Pretty Little Liars ended and Uber -A was finally revealed… and speaking of revealing, some really exciting information really brought my hopes up to dangerous levels…
I turned 20! With more fun summer adventures, July went really well and I thoroughly enjoyed summer back home. During some weekends, my family and I took some trips around New York state, which you can watch on my YouTube channel since I literally posted twice a week the entire summer! Since I greatly love fall but miss the full aesthetic of the season when i’m spending those months in LA, we had a autumn in July day, complete with apple markets, spiced hot apple cider, and spoopy movies!
The tree in our backyard had seen its day and it was time to take it down. This was a tragic end of Treebert, but it was for the best. On a much more exciting note, I got the opportunity to go to Jamestown, New York and visit the I Love Lucy museum focused on Lucy’s life and career during a Comedy festival and then later that month, New York City with my family and be a part of the upcoming High Strung Free Dance movie! That was an absolute dream come true! After the trip, we came back for a day and then hopped on a plane back to LA as we explored, went to a YouTube Space VR night event, and even biked my new lil’ Lulu around the mall! Then, I started up my third/junior year at LMU!
I went to the Creative Arts Emmy’s (watch carefully and you may see me hopping around since I was a seatfiller!), finalized (finally!) my first draft of the second Royalty Status trilogy novel, and started an additional new job on campus as an Entertainment Writer/Producer for ROAR Studios & spent a work day at the beach brainstorming and making friends!
A month of filming, I collabed with Adrienne Finch for a Halloween Pranks video on her channel and horror short film, Disconnected, on mine! I also had filmed a Riverdale spoof and had a little Riverdale-inspired photoshoot at a diner, which got relatively viral on Twitter and my Cheryl Blossom look got the attention of Archie Comics, Riverdale, & the CW! I also acted in a graduate film, which provided my first all nighter with one of my favorite performances in a scary murder scene! I also got invited and filmed interviews at the Jackson Mansion for the Halloween Costume for a Cause party. I also had filmed two versions of a scene from The Great Gatsby for the directing class.
You may have caught me in Bart Baker’s music video parody of Gucci Gang, filmed at YouTube Space LA. Plus, I acted in another graduate film, this time putting me on pointe for the first time ever and seeming relatively legit, despite pointe being way less graceful in person than ballerinas make it seem! I flew back to New York for Thanksgiving and celebrating my Dad’s birthday, plus, my brother, Adam performed in his final Fall Play in high school. I had all of the feels and it was an honor spending some time backstage and passing that final pre-show-traditional-squeeze to him. I also filmed two versions of a scene from La La Land for the directing class and The Final for ancient comedy class.
I went ice skating outdoors in Santa Monica (a literal block away from the ocean!), acted in yet another scene, went to the annual LMU Christmas Tree Lighting event, went to the ROAR brunch and celebrated the pre-production work done this semester for an upcoming series, and acted in my roomie’s theater directing class scene. I also filmed interviews at Teala Dunn’s 21st birthday party and met many amazing YouTubers, including Shane Dawson, which was really cool since I have been watching his videos from conspiracies all the way back to Shaynaynay days. I photographed and filmed some behind the scenes for Adrienne’s set and flew back to New York for the holidays! Now back, I have been spending the time with my family, baking, being festive, and even attending the ArtFam reunion and Improv show back at the high school.
A lot happened and to go into detail in any which way is very overwhelming. Videos and photos are everywhere and my life is scattered online, throughout my phone and computer, journals, and even my mind. As the years progress, it does become increasingly difficult to put together such years in review but with all of that in mind, I hope that you enjoyed this little look into my life. Feel free to find out even more about what I did this past year through YouTube, social media, and asking me too. (@sarahfhamilton)
I hope you had a wonderful year as well! Keep the conversation going on Twitter or in the comments below about major things that happened to you this past year.
Happy New Years Eve, New Years Day, and the New Year of 2018 ahead!
In the least overwhelmingly long story sort of way, these words capture an incredible story of my current life, a year and five months in the making.
I have always been a dreamer with passions surrounding storytelling through creative writing, filmmaking, acting, performing, dancing, and so forth. Anyone who is any ounce of familiar with who I am probably knows by now that I do a lot of things, which has brought me from my childhood in upstate New York to my current life in Los Angeles. Small town girl, big city dreams. We have all seen that cliché before, yet, it’s a pretty accurate summary of the past two years of my life.
The Hollywood Premiere That Started it All
So to get this story started here, in March 2016, I got invited to the advance screening of a movie out in Beverly Hills and then the official LA premiere the week after at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood. That movie was a lovely independent dance film called, High Strung. The opening theme sent chills down my spine in that small screening as the impending ability to meet those in the movie the next week seemed so unreal.
I had no idea.
The following premiere was everything I could ever ask for with a premiere. I wrote about the whole experience here.
When most premieres are done and the press online starts to fade into other events, that’s generally the end. I still freaked out when I saw High Strung at stores or even at my local RedBox at home. It’s on Netflix now too, so I highly recommend watching it. That being said, this movie was different…it kept on taking new forms in my life.
The Event That Changed Everything
So, let’s jump ahead to the Dizzy Feet Gala event at LA Live (DTLA) in September of 2016. I was just starting off my second year as a film and television production major at LMU|LA, and already I was feeling pretty amazing about where my college life and forming career was taking me. I was there to film interviews with my friend, Eva for her channel (youtube.com/onthespotinterviews). Among the many we interviewed that day, we were excited to see Michael and Janeen Damian again, whom we had already met during the High Strung premiere. You can watch that interview here:
There was a moment that day that left me completely in shock. This was an invite into being in an amazing movie and in my realm of what seems like a “normal life experience”, this was far outside the realm of “normal”. Everything was about to change.
The Process & Audition
As the whole movie process goes, everything takes time. Months went by and life moved on. However, I kept updated with the process and by audition time, got the opportunity to send in an audition tape. I’m a far stronger actress than dancer, but this was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss so I did want any actor should do…act! I spent countless hours in the dance studios on campus after hours working on a routine. To prep even before then, I spent time at the gym every day for weeks. Even making it to extra Bollywood dance cardio classes helped. My friend, Emily, who happens to be a dance minor helped one day too. This was a level of dedication that left my heart soaring.
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I couldn’t say anything and even more importantly, I could not get my hopes up. A part of me felt like something great was going to come out of this, but of course, my former experiences with getting involved with acting through auditions have always been not as successful. I have not been getting leads throughout middle and high school. In fact, before getting smaller roles (that I gave full-out back stories for), I had always felt like when it came down to acting, I wasn’t experienced or talented enough. Later into the high school years, that started to change, but only now do I fully realize how important that tricky past has been.
I never gave up. I kept trying to prove myself and improve my abilities. I had a passion for actually creating characters from nothing and transforming myself into them. There are no “small” roles, especially when you embrace any role to the fullest.
So as exciting as everything was, I became overwhelmed with the conflicting moments of trying to not get too excited while being really excited. With an email, my audition was sent. I didn’t hear back, nor get a role. To be fair, that was expected. However, the story was not over yet. The entire spring of my sophomore year was incredibly stressful due to my lack of knowledge of summer plans. While this wasn’t the only situation on my mind at that time, it was definitely one of them. More than anything, I truly wanted to be a part of this. More time passed, I spent an additional month in LA before heading back to NY for the remainder of summer. All the meanwhile, filming had begun in Romania.
While watching the live streams from set and keeping up with the process, I found out when the NYC part of filming was going to take place and that I was still indeed invited to be an extra (or as officially called now, “background actor”). A major perk to living in New York state is being a several hour drive away from the big city. Timing wise, the filming was right before the trip back to LA for the upcoming school year, but my absolutely incredible family worked it all out. The next thing I knew, I was packing once again to a weekend like no other.
The Filming On-Location
I have always loved the idea of being a part of filming movies on location because that is a beautiful combination of work and vacation all at once. Late August 2017, my family and I arrived on a Friday afternoon at the Empire hotel in NYC. Call times were set for Saturday and Sunday and by the time the Monday scenes were set to be filmed, we had to be heading back for last second packing for LA. Exploring the city again was incredible and slightly odd with timing since the last time I was in NYC was a band trip my junior of high school. Now, I’m entering my junior year of college.
The first scene I got to be a part of was at Duffy’s Square… right on Times Square! There is nothing quite like being with a movie crew, standing in the middle of a place I have been watching every new years eve, being surrounded by so many tourists and people with cameras filming the filming process. I was a part of something that I would typically be watching as an outsider thinking, “oh that’s so cool”. One of the coolest things about all of this was the fact that I got to experience this as a young filmmaker AND share this world with my family. It was a blend of what I do in familiar and new ways.
The next day, I took the subway for the first time to SoHo for a couple different locations and scenes. Between scenes and takes, I got an interview with one of the stars of the film, Harry Jarvis, who was an absolute delight to meet.
I’m not used to the interviewing life since I usually film and edit them, but it was a lot of fun. When it came down to being in the scenes, I got a general placement in frame and some directions on what to do. When High Strung Free Dance comes out Summer 2018, keep an eye out for the exterior shots that include my family and myself walking through NYC. The filming took the whole day and night. It was incredibly amazing to see how the process took place on a professional level, while taking role in the midst of it all, intensely observing and living for every second.
…Which brings me to being a film student on a professional set and the observations I made. I’ve worked on various sets before, ranging in professional levels. However, it is amazing how many sets have miscommunication issues that lead to complications with filming. It was outrageously pleasing to be on this set where everyone knew each other, communicated well, and effectively kept on schedule and even got ahead of it often. I am incredibly impressed by how well-managed the cast and crew regulated. It was inspiring and I took many notes on things that worked well that I can carry with me through future sets. Never have I witnessed such a well-organized group that has inspired me so very much.
The entire weekend of filming was overwhelming on levels I did not know could exist. It was as if a sea of emotions and memories past, present, and future collided, leaving my head spinning in a whirlwind of feelings. Everything came full circle and even though I was only filming for two days, it felt extra emotional wrapping Sunday night. Like the end of past middle and high school productions, emotional sad vibes of the end sunk in, leaving me back in the post-High Strung sadness I felt after the premiere of the first movie. The whole experience felt incredibly unreal and in more ways than I could describe, so many full-circle moments came into perspective. Of course, this isn’t the end of this whole experience, since upcoming screenings, the premiere, and all of the future releases are still to come. As I sit in my childhood bedroom the morning after getting back and procrastinating from packing to be back in LA, I am realizing that I am still the same self I have always been, but now I am a step further into my “new normal” (which is simply what I call this realm of the “biz” that feels far from normal at all).
I cannot thank everyone who made this possible more than enough. I am incredibly thankful for this life and this experience. I am excited for everything that is ahead. I am living yet another life dream.
This is truly a story that seems too good to be true, even to myself. Former me (even a year ago!) would have never in a million years expected for any of this to have happened and been real. That is why I have complete belief that whatever it is you want to do in life may not happen in the ways or time frames that you could expect, but they will work their way into happening. Believe, keep hope on your side, stay positive, and persevere. Anything can and WILL happen. When they do, magic happens.
Keep updated with my ever-abundantly-amazing adventures via YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook…basically, every social media @sarahfhamilton. Feel free to leave comments and/or tweet/comment at me as I love to respond!
Keep Dreaming, Keep Sm:)ing!
Advance Screening & Press Day
BTS of Auditioning (when I still couldn’t say anything at all)
There’s this word…”normal”. LA took everything I thought I knew about what “normal” meant and flipped it like a pancake. Okay, weird metaphor over…the moral of the story is, life has been incredibly crazy in the best of ways and yet another major step into my new normalcy has happened.
I went to the Creative Arts Emmys on September 9th, 2017 (it filmed on a different day then it aired). There appeared to be only a few types of people there…
the nominees/announcers/famous and entertainment industry people
their friends and family
the amazing crew running the show
the seat fillers (a.k.a. yours truly)
As a seat filler for the Kids Choice Awards about two years ago, I knew the drill. Basically the job of a seat filler is to fill in the empty seats (pretty self-explanatory).The main celebs get up and move around during the show, but to make the camera happy, seats need to be filled. So we jump around from seat to seat and despite the fact that you may see a seat filler in various different spots during a program, most viewers won’t be paying enough attention to us to even notice.
So, I got tickets and got to be a seat filler for the Creative Arts Emmys at the Microsoft Theater at LA Live and it was one of the most amazing opportunities.
For starters, I should mention that if you watch the show, watch carefully and send screenshots my way because I make cameos from several different seats throughout the theater. For some time, I was behind the crew of Saturday Night Live. Then I briefly showed up second row right by James Cordon and Derek and Julianne Hough… just to name a few. I moved to the very front by the right steps for the ending so that was amazingly cool too. Plus, after a plethora of years worth of science classes… I can say now that I have seen Bill Nye in person and you bet I “considered the following”… WHAT IS LIFE!?!?!?
To summarize the experience, yes, I saw and sat next to and around so many amazingly cool (and pretty famous) people. At first, I felt as if being a seat filler wasn’t a legit enough excuse to be there. At first, I felt as if I didn’t truly belong there. After all, literally the night before I was spending a quality messy hair homework night on campus when everybody else seemed to be at parties or date nights (which is totally cool and all, but college is a series of varying moments). Which brings us to a moment at the Emmys where everything clicked…
I did belong there among all of those really cool famous people. I am a part of the entertainment industry and in the big picture of things, I happen to actually be a lot like them. We are all creators and storytellers and this is simply a moment of my life that continues to connect my former self who only dreamed of such random opportunities like this with a potential future where I too am a part of the whole system. Yes, I see these sorts of events as very casual moments of life because I see the practicalities behind how and why I get to do what I do. Regardless, just because I see the practicalities, it doesn’t make the umbrella of what I do any less real.
Umbrella: I went to the Emmys!!!!!
Reality: I signed up for free seat filler tickets to go to the Creative Arts Emmys, stood in various long waits, and miraculously ended up in several amazing seats where the camera did face on several occasions!
…Ultimately, both are true and this concept applies to most of everything that I do around this wonderful city. That being said, this was an incredible opportunity and I had the greatest time attending my first Emmys while being further introduced into this chaotically beautiful lifestyle.
If there could be one major thought that I would have to conclude this post on, it’s this: take into account the behind the scenes look at the media you consume. Every single day, it is so easy to take things for how they seem to be. Watching TV, seeing movies, looking at various media on the plethora of platforms that currently exist is such a common activity yet, there are so many people who spend their livelihoods making all of that so possible. So the next time you are watching something or simply scrolling through your phone, take a moment of appreciation for all of those who may or may not be on-screen who are making the content you are consuming possible.
Check out the Creative Arts EMMYS Saturday September 16th at 8pm ET/PT, 7pm CT on FXX!
I’m not sure where you went or why you had to leave so soon, but you totally rocked so here this goes…
I spent the entire first half of this year planning for you. Funny enough, when it was still December of last year, I was already trying to figure out what these few months would bring. Some call that “planning too far in advance” while I call it “adult/college pressures to productivity activate free months for career advancements”.
Spring rolled around and I still really had no idea what was going to happen, but I opened many doors and waited several eternities to figure out where fate and destiny was going to land me. Early spring soon turned into late spring and the next thing I knew, it was only a week until move out at the end of the semester. I had no dedicated plans, only a lot of people and places to hear back from. Going back to NY for the summer meant potentially missing out on cool LA opportunities but nothing was settled yet. I got fed up with waiting, but great things come to those who wait.
So, I stayed an additional month. It got me to actually move into my first LA-on-my-own apartment, which taught me that being on your own in a non-college setting is a whole new ballgame. I cut my little finger open while trying to put a cleaned glass away. The alarm falsely went off one early morning and left me shook at the thought of someone breaking in (which was not the case at all!). I grocery shopped on my own and fed myself without a meal plan. Adulting. That month provided growth and a whole lot of productivity and fun. However, I learned that I love what I do so much that I am a total workaholic and it all got so overwhelming. In need of an actual break, I flew back to New York early June.
Summer part two continued the productivity! Each week I posted two YouTube videos, I filmed and edited several promotional videos for local theater groups, I regulated posting on this lovely website/blog, I got more involved with writing/reading/planning, and most importantly of all, I got to spend amazing quality time with my family. It has been amazing in every way! We explored new places, went on majestic and nostalgic bike rides, and enjoyed each others company so much. I helped film a video or two with my brother, who has a super cool channel I should mention (youtube.com/outsidetheboxadam). I finally relaxed a bit (although, I was more of a workaholic back here too than planned) and I made a couple of milestones.
One was turning twenty. I’m officially (as young me would say), “both hands and both feet”. Not sure what to count next…
Another milestone was definitely the great loss of the tree in the backyard. Treebert Birch was a great tree. Despite the fact that it was growing towards out house and getting quite dangerous to keep around, as understanding I am at the loss, that tree will be missed.
That brings me to my next point…
This summer, I came back to family, reflection, comfort, and transition. I believe that I reached these goals with flying colors. Funny enough, I can’t mention too much about my upcoming future, but as overwhelming as things are about to get, I am so incredibly excited! (Keep updated with me for more info)
So, I suppose that’s it then. The end of summer. I’ll miss this but I’m incredibly glad that everything happened the way that it did. Thank you summer 2017. And thank you to everyone who made it so incredibly special.
I have gone through my entire life so far really getting caught up in the past. To make matters even crazier, I have spent so much of my life so far in *slight*, uncomfortable fear of the future, simply because I didn’t know what to expect and it seems like such a vast open land of potentials and unknowns.
That being said, it’s like a switch flipped within me the second I hit the ripe age of twenty. Being a teen was great. Being a kid was great. But being in the twenties is PRIME. I love my past, present, and potential futures. I’m far from “perfect”, but here are some of my early twenty mentalities that have left me recently glowing in a light of positivity and blissful happiness.
Life is everything. It can be both heavily structured and overly free at once. Perhaps, none of that makes any sense, but the overarching message here is that life can have many extremes and it is up to us as individuals to decide how to experience it all in a well-balanced way.
YOU are in control. Sure, there are always going to be factors that seemingly dictate our lives, but ultimately, we are the ones in control of our own lives. We make the choices and we choose to live our days the ways in which we do. Find your way back to feeling in control and everything is going to be alright…
…which brings me to the fact that even our emotions can be in control. So yes, choose to be happy, but also, it is completely okay to choose to feel other emotions too. Life has quite a range of emotions to feel, so why not embrace them all and look at even the darkest of moments as ones worthwhile?
Balance is key. I’m sure I kind of implied this one already, but might as well add an extra point about it. Be healthy, but here and there, indulge without regrets. Work hard, but give yourself breaks. Sometimes, it seems too easy to get caught up in all life has to offer, but through balancing chaos with stillness, loudness with silence, and even control with recklessness, the highs and the lows of life will balance out. Embrace it all.
Choose positivity and really believe. Believe in yourself, those around you, dreams…everything you believe is possible and yes, that may sound very cliché, but take it from me; it’s true. Staying positive about everything is great and to make matters even better, realize that you are the writer of your own stories and the way you perceive the good and bad is what shapes you in the long run.
Alright, I get it. I’m twenty. I’m still young, vibrant, and probably in the most wide-eyed, optimistic point of my life and I totally get that. But I have learned these things over the course of these past twenty years and they clicked in as reliable sources of my happiness. I know who I am, what I have done, what I am doing, and where I want to go and now that all of that is in check, life is opening up in every beautiful way.
That being said, I hope you enjoyed this little ramble of life. I hope it brought you some sort of happiness and/or inspiration. If it did, I always respond to comments and tweets (@sarahfhamilton), so let me know what you thought!
It has already been going on three years since I made the initial decision to attend college in LA. While this is technically a school-based thing where I would always still be partially back home in New York too, seeking a career in the entertainment industry made this decision feel more permanent from the start. That being noted, I went from someone who was living in a completely different realm on the other side of the country, totally afraid and not-too-willing to leave home to someone who accepts living in two different locations as a normal thing at this point.
With the exception of those I met through first year June orientation and the obvious celebrities who most definitely live in LA but I did not know personally, I came to this city not knowing anybody. I had visited briefly, but LA is much different from my hometown and different from even itself from the eyes of the tourist.
These past couple years, I have learned a lot. Quite frankly, I keep having more experiences, opportunities, and lessons every day. Nonetheless, there are some things about living in LA that I did not expect to find out.
It can be lonely in paradise. Everyone is pursuing their artsy dreams and passions and while it is inspiring to be around like-minded people, a lot of time is still spent creating your own dreams.
The fitness culture is very real. Not only are others always wearing athletic gear and attending the surplus of available fitness classes, but the food surrounds maintaining healthy lifestyles as well! Calories are posted everywhere and there are far more vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, organic, GMO-free, etc. foods available than I ever even knew about.
Everyone seems to have spontaneous photoshoots. Partially, because it’s fun and everywhere here is so photogenic, but also, to maintain an image that usually links to creative career endeavours.
The weather does in fact dip every once in a very rare blue moon, but that’s when productive, brightly color dressed people suddenly bring out the grey sweats and Netflix.
My hair and my skin are LIVING for this dryness! The air is dry and my skin and hair is at a level of perfection that does not exist in humid climates.
The weather, mostly, really is perfect ALL OF THE TIME and you can wear anything you want.
People don’t judge. Instead, they express themselves however they want confidently.
This place is kind of messed up. I may not know too many other places, but LA is a really weird, unique place. It always reminds me of Wonderland…”we’re all mad here”.
Just because the beach is close by, that does not mean that you will be able to get there half as often as you would like.
It’s chill. Maybe not surfer-chill, but unless you’re on the freeway during rush hour (which is most of the day and night anyways), people are generally pretty calm about everything.
Everybody is networking all of the time! If you are anywhere, chances are, most of those around you have a business card waiting to go and a sales “elevator” pitch for something.
People know people. This goes for everywhere, but in LA, usually that means that somehow, celebrities of some sort are involved.
People are genuinely really nice.
“Hollywood” is fake. The glamorous side is real, but in a way that disguises that this is the livelihoods, careers, jobs, and dreams of so many people. There is so much more to the story when it comes down to how everything is run here.
It can get overwhelming. There is always something to do and the motivation to do it but there’s no way one can do it all at once. Learning to budget time, money, to-do’s, and even experiences is not easy to do.
For a “big” famous city, after being in it for a while, LA seems relatively small.
But most importantly…
I really love it here and I know that this is truly the right place for me!
Look, I have learned so much about this place and I continue to learn more and more. It is a land I am proud to call one of my homes.
I have taken two Warner Brothers backlot studio tours in the past few years and there was two facts about the Ellen Show in particular that I remember:
It is incredibly difficult to get tickets and be an audience member. Tickets are free, but there are so many people going for them, so unless you book months in advance and can work flexibility into the mix (a.k.a., basically live close by and drop everything to go) then you may get to go.
Ellen’s first vacation was to the WB studio tour and now she has her entire show in production there until she basically decides to stop it.
Being in college here and knowing months in advance that there was a slight chance that I would be here in May (which I happen to be!), I signed up for tickets months out. I was originally scheduled for early May and then got an email inviting me to a later date instead since the original day would no longer work for me. I agreed, of course, and then got an email a few weeks later with standby tickets.
Basically, this is how the tickets work:
Standby: You are not guaranteed to be a studio audience member until you are in the studio on the set. If the guaranteed ticket holders don’t all show up, you get a spot. If you don’t get a spot, you get to go right behind where the audience part of the stage is in the special riffraff room during the show. You may be a seat filler for anyone who leaves for whatever reason. If you are in the riffraff room, however, you get a guaranteed ticket for a future show.
guaranteed: This ticket guarantees your attendance as a studio audience member.
A week before, I got a morning call from the Ellen Show team confirming myself and my party. One of my friends could not attend, so I had to cancel out her name but they also allow for changing up your guests up to a week in advance. Information is sent via email for parking, local food options, what to wear, and all that good stuff.
The day of, my friend and I drove out to Burbank and entered Gate 3 for parking (which was free!). At the ground level of that parking complex there was several benches, a pop-up shop, tv sets, snack cart, restrooms, and check-in for the show. We had to show individual ID’s and then were given Ellen blue passes with numbers. We were then informed that we were welcome to stay or leave, but be back by 12:30. So, we took those cool passes and walked over to the local Lemonade for lunch. (Eat before the show!) We came back in time to see a limo enter the lot.
Myth buster right here: most celebrities don’t take limos everywhere and tinted window SUV’s are far more likely. We wondered who would be that extra, but the second we found out that one of the guests that day was Nicki Minaj…the limo made sense.
The next couple hours were a lot of waiting, which is the reality of a lot of TV and movies when you’re going to be in it (or at least, hoping to be!). They played past show clips on the tv’s and offered snacks and such. Audience scouts went around and talked to people, eventually calling them out back. I read a post before the event about this and knew that they were looking for guaranteed guests to potentially be selected for games if there were any during the show that particular day. My number being 314 kept me waiting for a long time, but eventually, we got into a line and crossed the street, going into a side entrance of the studio.
The line just joined another line for security in a long, narrow hallway. Eventually, we got to the riffraff room and they called people into the studio by numbers. Technically, my friend and I were the start of the seatfillers, but we got to sit together and stay in the same seats the whole time. The show began shortly and the fun instantly began! (It was fun to begin with, but there was a lot of waiting in Burbank summer heat.)
We danced. Cameras rolled even when the actual episode wasn’t taped. In fact, nothing was taped in order and with several cameras and the magic of live and post editing, not everything that got on camera got into the actual episode(s) filmed. Parts were filmed out-of-order too. Commercial breaks were spent dancing and having random dance battles.
The show is not filmed live, but they edit the interviews and game portion as if it were. Additional clips are added in afterwards and the order is put together at a different time. I was there on a Monday, which meant that Tuesday and some of Wednesday’s episodes were filmed that day. They don’t film on Friday’s either. Yes, there was a part after filming Monday’s episode where Ellen and Twitch changed and Ellen came out to yet another intro where we all acted like it was a new day. She mentioned something along the lines of being “so glad that it’s a Wednesday, not a Monday”. I haven’t been able to see the episodes myself yet, but if that is left in, most of the viewers will think it is a dig at annoying Mondays but really, all of us laughing audience members were noting the irony because *Hollywood magic* it was still Monday.
The show carried on and it was interesting to watch it all unfold. Despite the fact that we filmed more than just one episode, everything happened so quickly. There were timers for the amount of on-air time and commercial break timing. Every once in a while, we were informed that they were going to film a pick up, which is basically an additional clip to be edited in like it happened in the first place. The guests that day were Nicki Minaj, Robin Wright, and Andy Cohen. Of course, I saw Ellen and Twitch too! Between takes for the interviews for Nicki, what appeared to be her makeup crew kept touching up her makeup. It was strange though listening to Starships and jamming out with the audience but also her right there also jamming mid-makeup touch-up. I also happened to be sitting right behind one of Ellen’s invited guests, so she came over and have him a hug and awkwardly smiled at me since I was, you know, like right there and apparently staring more obviously than I had thought.
Before I knew it, the show was over. There was no time to actually get photos or meet anyone personally, but that was to be expected. We were informed not to take photos while on the set (whoopsies!) and then were directed back to the riffraff room to collect our prizes ($150 visa gift card and drawstring bag). Those selected to be on the episode for the games or dance and singing specials were sent to another room to sign wavers and collect their TV’s and whatnot.
We left the studio the same way we got in at our own pace (some stayed in the riffraff room to shop or use the restroom) and headed back to the parking lot. It was the end to an amazing experience. Plus, if you watch carefully, you can see me in two episodes filmed on the second to last day of taping for Season 14! *14 is my favorite number!
College is definitely middle-ground territory in many, many ways, but perhaps, one of my favorite is being part tourist and part resident in LA all at once. Sure, there are plenty of places like the Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood Walk of Fame, the studios of Burbank, and the classic, In-N-Out, but there are also amazing places that I have discovered since being here that are more local-native, so to speak.
Here are some of my favorite spots as a local LA tourist! (*in no particular order and not all specifically in LA, but close enough.)
Griffith Observatory & Park
If you saw La La Land, this is a stop you should definitely make! If you haven’t, go here anyway! Sunsets are a perfect time.
In Malibu, this lovely museum with incredible views makes you feel like a greek god/goddess and the Mamma Mia soundtrack will run through your head the entire time there.
Shops, sand, and lovely views everywhere you look!
Playa Del Rey beach
For when you just want sand and spontaneous beach moments with sand, ocean, & lovely sunsets.
Santa Monica Promenade
The beach and the pier are amazing tourist spots, but I had no idea that there is an entire promenade area too!
The Last Bookstore
In Downtown LA (DTLA), this bookstore is absolutely every reader/writer’s dream come true.
Want to shamelessly take all of the photos? Stop by these classic LA lamps.
The Grove & The Americana
These outdoor shopping plazas are incredibly fun with all of their stores and events!
*With my orders if they are my go-to’s. Most places, I change it up a bit.
K.C.’s CrepesMy order – Iced jasmine green boba tea & apple cinnamon crepe.
Duke’s Malibu // My order: I split the fish tacos and lobster macaroni & cheese!
Alfred Coffee & KitchenMelrose // My order – almond milk iced latte or rose petal tea latte (again, with the almond milk).
Lemonade LAMy order – White truffle mac & cheese with blueberry mint lemonade (seasonal).
Paradise Bowls Manhattan Beach // My order – GUACHO (small acai bowl. blend: banana, strawberries, blueberries, acai, apple juice. toppings: granola, honey, strawberries, blueberries, goji berries)
This list could easily be a whole lot longer, so keep checking back for more post like this! if you visit any of these places, definitely let me know in the comment section or tweet it at me @sarahfhamilton.