I Went From a Broke, Has-Been Entrepreneur to National Television Personality in Just One Year

In 2013, I was broke. No, I’m not talking “Shoot, I only have $5,000 in my savings this month” broke. I was “I don’t even have $20 to my name” broke.

I was coming off a high. I’d recently sold my wildly successful online burlesque clothing store. In my mind, I’d already made it. I was ready to live a life of ease and luxury. But, a few irresponsible decisions and several unnecessary vacations later, I was completely spent. Five months behind on my bills, I had no choice but to vacate my expensive loft apartment. All my hard earned cash was completely gone, down the tubes in a flash.

I hadn’t given any forethought to my next stream of income. My lack of preparation and mental focus left me confused and discouraged. More than anything, my self confidence was completely shot.

For weeks, my pride got in the way. Asking for help just wasn’t an option. To my friends and family, I was still on top of the world. No one knew how bad I was struggling, and I intended to keep it that way. I survived on Club Crackers and Crystal Lite. Finding $5 to put in my gas tank was a daily strugge.

It’s weird. It’s like I was allowing myself to suffer. I wanted to know what it felt like to really be without. I’d taken my success for granted, and needed to be knocked down a few pegs.

My story is actually quite common. First time entrepreneurs who find immediate success usually struggle to handle the aftermath. They spend without abandon, and forget what got them there in the first place. Hard work becomes a temporary solution, not a long term habit.

At one point, I couldn’t even afford dog food. One night, I picked up a couple slices of pizza for dinner with leftover change. I got home, and realized I’d run out of dog food that morning. I had no money left. I gave my dog the pizza without second thought, and went to bed hungry. For me, that was a real low point. I knew there had to a better way. Starving myself was acceptable, but starving my dog? Not a chance.

One winter afternoon, I overheard a commercial for a nationwide casting call. A new reality show was coming to FOX called Utopia. Fifteen strangers from different walks of life joined together to develop a new society. There was something different about this show. I’d never been on TV before, or even considered it. To a sane person, this was a complete long shot. But everything about Utopia seemed right. I’d finally found a new goal to fixate on.

I heard that commercial, and saw opportunity. For the first time in a long time, a lightbulb went off. I applied as the show’s Business and Marketing Expert. I figured a new society would need my entrepreneurial perspective. “This community can’t survive without money, right?” I argued in my first application. “That’s why I’m your girl.”

This is a classic example of the “fake it till you make it” mentality. Anyone else find it ironic that I was applying as a money making guru, when truth be told, I was broke? I definitely did, but forged ahead anyways.

One month later, I got a phone call. I wasn’t expecting to hear that soon, so I was completely caught off guard. I quickly pulled it together, and acted like I’d been expecting their call all along. The head of casting wanted me to fly to NYC, and record a brief interview.

Want to hear something crazy? I had to borrow money from my parents for that plane ticket. In case you were wondering, I still had nothing. At first, I thought this was it. I was sure I was in. I even had a mini celebration with my close friends and family the day I got back, thinking I’d finally made it.

I quickly realized I hadn’t even come close. For the next 8 months, I jumped through rigorous casting hoops. But not once, did I ever lose focus.

I was beyond determined, I didn’t second guess anything. I told everyone who asked, “I’m gonna be on TV, just you wait.” I definitely got some questionable looks and heard the occasional snicker. But, I refused to accept that rejection was even an option.

Not only was I focused, I was relentless. I emailed casting agents on the daily. In many ways, I was a saleswoman — pushing myself as the product.

Finally, in August of 2014, I got a phone call. This time, I was at peace. I had done everything I could, there was no way they would say no. Sure enough, they told me to pack my bags. I flew out to join the cast 48 hours later.

For me, television was just another goal to check off my professional bucket list. I was looking to escape from my dreary rut. This experience taught me many things, the most important being: you just can’t say no to a woman with a plan.

Just in case you’re wondering, my dog Beauford is now fat, full, and happier than ever.