Hollywood is universally recognized for its glitz and glamour but don’t let the appearances fool you because this isn’t the real Hollywood. In the shadows lurks countless hopefuls hustling each and every day to make their dreams come true. I’m happy to sit down today with the self-proclaimed “struggling actress” Lira Kellerman. She is witty, oozes of positivity and is all around wonderful. You probably don’t know her but read on and learn more about her and what it means to be a “struggling actress” in LA.
Hi Lira. Glad that you are able to take some time off your schedule to talk to us! Can you first introduce yourself and tell us what drew you to acting in the first place?
I’m Lira Kellerman, you haven’t heard of me, but you might have seen me play a pregnant woman suffering from post-partum depression, a rape victim, a psychic, a paraplegic ghost hunter, a pregnant college student, a struggling comedian, a woman pregnant with twins, or a victim of a famous haunted house. No? You haven’t seen me do any of that? Hmmm.
Just like caretaker and inventor, storyteller, be it writing, acting, directing, whathaveyou, is a calling. I wish I could have told it I wasn’t home. It’s a hard path filled with lots of trials (and errors) but it’s a job I have to do. I like making people feel emotions, making them feel empathy, reminding them we’re all human and we’re all in this together. It sounds kind of ridiculous, but many people can’t relax and forget their problems unless they’re reading, going to a movie, watching tv. I’m here in this life as a storyteller. I cannot do anything else.
You call yourself the “struggling actress” but you seem to be doing just fine! What have you been working on as of late?
I recently just finished up an ensemble web series, and am about to go into pre-production with a web series I wrote earlier this year. I have a national commercial that should be airing in the new year, and I’ve already started auditioning for pilots. Along with a few other credits, this has been my busiest year since I moved to LA. Yay for the upturning economy!
What are the biggest rewards and difficulties that you have encountered so far in your quest to become a working actress?
There is a lot of doubt in the life as an actress. We get used to the struggle and then wrestle with the question of are we even worthy to know a life without having to constantly worry about rent, or needing to find another job to supplement our income. There’s been quite a few rewards, mainly of being affirmed and validated multiple times that I’m on the right path.
Everyone fears rejection but even successful actors go through rejections over and over and over again. How do you deal with it and do you ever get nervous for an audition or a role?
So much of casting is determined by being the right actress at the right time for the right role. You’ll get a turn. The word “rejection” has the connotation of being much more personal than it really is. There’s so many factors going into each casting that it’d make you crazy to think it’s because of who you are personally. The stars do align, you do get cast.
Do you have a bad acting experience you would like to share with our readers?
“Everyone has a little bit of magic in them, a little bit of “it” that makes them unique in the biz”Oh god. Some commercial auditions can be extremely humiliating. Case in point: The Worst Callback Ever.
Ouch, they really made you jump through hoops while juggling apples and oranges there. What qualities make you special as an actress?
Everyone has a little bit of magic in them, a little bit of “it” that makes them unique in the biz. It’s easy to see in others and hard to pinpoint in yourself. I think the actresses we love to watch over and over again have some sort of hard to define presence about them. Maybe I have that. I hope I do.
Much has been made about the lack of quality roles for women. Do you think there are as many interesting roles out there for women compared to your male counterparts?
Definitely not. The movie studios think women only want crap rom-coms. Sex and the City 2, It’s Complicated, Bride Wars: They’re all poorly written movies painting women as completely selfish, stupid, and unrealistic. If there were better quality movies, there’d be better quality roles. It’s a catch-22. Women are clamoring for good female-centric films but the only thing they can get are awful romantic comedies, so they’ll take it. It’s just like my problem with “chick-lit.” Here we have these extremely poorly written chick-centric books where every protagonist is a lowly magazine editor who is in love with her boss. Young women gobble them up so, yay! they’re reading… but do they have to read such bad literature? But they’re reading. Vicious cycle of loathing.
What is the difference between working on television and film and which do you prefer?
I have only done recreated events shows and comedic sketches for television, and all my films have been non-union. I can’t compare them to studio shows and films because it’s a very different product. Check back with me in a year.
I will! What is your ideal role and why?
I would love, love, love to be on a hit ensemble television show. I want to be able to be funny and silly and sappy. I want to go to work everyday and never stop laughing.
What advice do you have for people starting out in this industry that want to follow their dreams?
Honestly ask yourself “If I didn’t make it, what would I do instead?” and then do that. If you can’t think of anything else you’d rather do, great. Save up at least $10,000 before moving to LA and plan on staying for at least Ten Years before you finally make any headway.
Ten years is quite a long time. Where do you see yourself in 5 years and what would you like to achieve with your career?
I plan on having a book published and finally being called a working actress. I hope I never stop creating content and continue inspiring my readers.
I want to thank you, Lira, for giving us your valuable time. We wish you the best of luck in the pursuit of your dreams! Where can my readers find you online?
At my blog, the Struggling Actress. And thank you for having me.