HOLLYWOOD….

3 Dec

I don’t really know how a person starts to describe one of the best experiences of their life…

It started in a way most adventures do, with utter fear. Im not ashamed to admit it! I had never traveled that far alone; navigating a new city, a new country. It took a lot of breathing, messages to my mum and quoting Will Smith to myself…

“The greatest things are on the other side of fear”

I navigated my way from London to LAX, from LAX to Hollywood and Hollywood to my hotel. Steps one, two and three, complete. I woke up at 3.30am the next day, jet lag kicking in , and had no idea what to do with myself. Hollywood is not as “beautiful” as I expected. I mean don’t get me wrong, its amazing, and breath taking and is filled with things you have to see… but it’s kind of terrifying!!! I didn’t feel like venturing out alone at 3.30am to find sustenance so I ran my lines, did yoga, took photos for my friends bikini line and waited for the breakfast bar to open. It was lunch time in the UK I was STARVING.

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8am the breakfast bar opened, win! Two coffee’s down, and emergency banana’s in the bag, I jumped in an Uber and headed to the Griffith Observatory. This was one of the best decisions I made out there, I have dreamed of seeing the Hollywood sign since I was a little girl, and I didn’t just want to SEE it, I wanted to experience it! It took a moment for it all to sink in, I had a real life “pinch me” moment.

Headphones in, podcast on, I just hiked and hiked. I didn’t want it to stop. The views were utterly breath taking, the sun was warm, the people were friendly. I was on air. I took so many pictures but I just kept thinking, I cannot capture quite how beautiful this is… or how I feel right now. I did my best though…

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Dreams had already come true at this stage, and I hadn’t even made it to the film set yet!

After I had hiked, I took an Uber back to meet one of my school friends. We’d known each other since we were 13 years old, she’d moved out there with her husband and kids, it was quite a surreal moment for us. Sat on Hollywood Boulevard, drinking protein shakes, talking about life with her daughter. Who would have ever have thought, we would be here?! Imagine if we could go back and tell our 13 year old selves…

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After this, it was time to make my may to Palmdale where the filmset was. We were shooting in the craziest, bright pink house known aptly as “The Doll House”. This sums up the sheer size of LA; by car the journey takes about 1 hour and 20, by public transport… 4 hours!!! People had said to me that public transport was a myth, that you definitely need a car, and if no car, Uber would be your best friend and nobody walks anywhere. I didn’t quite grasp this concept properly until I started arrived.

I wasn’t going to spend $100 on a Uber, the metro/bus would cost $25 no brainer… because I’m used to the UK public transport system. It is NOT THE SAME IN LA. The metro isn’t like the tube. 1. there are no staff around to help you to answer questions, 2. It was scary as hell.

Now I should probably chuck in here that I am a worrier of the highest grade, so if you’re laid back and relaxed about life you probably wouldn’t be thinking that everyone was going to murder you, but I was quite adamant. *face palm*

After getting off the metro, I then had to make my way to the Greyhound Bus station to get on a bus to take me the hour journey to Palmdale. Why is it these are the moments where you remember the worst things? Like being told when I was 13 that all ex convicts ride the greyhound bus because they’re given a free bus ticket when they get out of prison. Now, I don’t even know if thats true, but I remembered it in that moment, whilst boarding the bus, GREAT!

But obviously, I didn’t get murdered. The scenery was stunning, and a lovely girl got on the bus at San Fernando, gave me a big smile and said she loved my hair, so I instantly felt better. (I find comfort in sisterhood ok! I’m the girl that will find the old lady on the late train to sit next to. I know. I know).

Once arriving at Palmdale I thought I would ask the lovely girl who smiled at me if she could help me navigate my way to the bright pink house. She called her mum over, we looked at directions and she said it would take a further TWO HOURS from where we were by bus. I was like well I don’t have a choice (inwardly wanting to cry). All the film crew were shooting on location so they couldn’t come and pick me up. Next thing you know, the lovely girls mum offered me a ride. I was like huh?? For two hours?? “Oh no this address is 10 minutes away, the buses here are just completely useless!” I was so grateful. I mean slightly apprehensive of course because ya know, murder paranoia, but they just gave me a warm and caring vibe, the mum was like “Im not leaving you out here by yourself!” and ushered me into the car. The next ten minutes with them was filled with laughter and banter, I was so relieved. (I, was also at this stage, losing the will with jet lag so I think I went a bit delirious).

We found the house, I made my way in and was blown away by the ridiculousness of the set! This place was PINK! I think the fact that it was about 1am in the UK I just pulled a blanket over me and put Friends on my iPad until the team came to pick me up.

I was so grateful to see them when they arrived! Friendly faces after a day convincing yourself your going to die, is nothing short beautiful. We headed to set on location, collected the crew and went for dinner. Finally got to meet everyone and just enjoyed relaxing into the experience.

Next day was FILM DAY. Naturally that meant I was awake at 4.30am (jet lag) and felt like I had no brain and was walking on a boat. I attempted using the hotel gym as I wasn’t meeting everyone until 8.30 at breakfast, and I struggled my way to that. By the time we got to set, I felt hideous. Dizzy, blank, cold, sick… I had forgotten how to human. No jet lag you were not going to ruin this for me! I kept a positive headspace…. but definitely went for a nap early on in the day… and again later in the day. My scenes were being shot in the evening so I spent the day following what everyone was doing. Taking in the process as much as I could, chatting with the team. After nap two, I was woken up to have hair and make up done which transformed me a little. Fake it til you make it! My scenes were high energy too so I knew I had to grab some energy stores from somewhere. Luckily, thats exactly what happened. I threw myself into my character, I didn’t over think, I just did. It was amazing. It felt natural, like I had been always doing it, even with the American accent!

By the time we wrapped I was feeling elated… tired… but elated! (By the way I’m writing this two weeks after I got back and I still don’t think I’ve recovered from the jet lag!!!)

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Next day I woke up with a spring in my step. I felt so much better and threw myself into the day. I wasn’t needed for scenes, so I made sure I made myself useful as I could. I helped with set, with make up, with wardrobe, with getting water for the cast, anything I could think of to be useful! It was a great energy all day and the scene we shot was a master piece. We wrapped that day at 4pm, which only meant one thing… party time!

It was my last full day, and the only night the crew had off so we headed into downtown Hollywood to let our hair down.

I’m not the biggest party animal, but I couldn’t wait to use this time to celebrate. I was in the mini van heading into Hollywood with this amazing, crazy family of people, feeling happiness I just couldn’t describe. I had to turn to the girls and ask them if they felt this way, those overwhelming moments or joy and gratitude where you just think “This is my life?! This is my JOB!?” I don’t know how you put that feeling into words…

We had the greatest night, I laughed so much and danced a lot and knew full well it was going to be a short sleep as we were headed to set for 10am the next day. (yeh what happens in LA stays in LA kids that’s all you need to know haha!)

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Naturally Charlotte (pictured above), the make up artist, and I couldn’t sleep for some reason, and were wide awake at 6.30am… always fun when you went to sleep at 3! At this time the girls, Charlotte and Jess, the lead actress aka Ria, tried to persuade me to stay out with them to finish the film. I have to say, the temptation was HIGH! I was having the greatest time, I did NOT want to come home.

We headed to set and I just kept making sure everyone was ok. I knew I would have to Uber back to LAX around 1pm so my way of coping was to clean the set, make sure everyone was fed and watered, and keep busy (yeh I said uber, I was NOT attempting death by public transport again… especially on a mild hangover!)

. The whole crew by this point was trying to get me to stay. There are a few reasons I had to come home, but it was a tough decision to make. I had fallen in love with this mad film family, and I didn’t want to leave them, I knew the fomo would be awful, but my reasons for coming back over took. Saying goodbye was hard. Yes, I cried. I was leaving some of the happiest days and the greatest people… and I had to now travel for what felt like 3 years!

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My über back to Lax was uneventful, my flight was on time, I sort of slept on the flight home and made it back in one piece.

I was right, the fomo WAS hideous, the missing everyone was terrible, the jet lag kicked the crap out of me… but I had never felt happier. I had just completed 4 childhood dreams:

Go to LA

Sing in a movie

Act in a movie

See the Hollywood sign

I have this overwhelming feeling that this trip has changed my life… I’m just not sure why yet…

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All my love to the director and producer Rich and Amar; they say in these creative industries that all it takes is for someone to believe in you… thank you both for believing in me.

 

 

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