I have already started the process of starting the #RIPtoSilence Movement. So many Americans are depressed and don’t even know it. The suicide rates are higher than they’ve ever been and it is getting worse. The #RIPtoSilence Movement is about getting those who are thinking about suicide or feeling like their life is not worth living, to begin to talk. Not just suicidal people, but people in general. With the rise of social media so many have become emotionally mute because they don’t want to be viewed a certain way or they begin to compare their lives to the lives of those around them based on what they see on their social media. What they forget is, like them, most people are putting their best foot forward on social media. There are a lot of people pretending, but #RIPtoSilence is encouraging people to be themselves. Reminding them that it’s okay to have feelings and ultimately experience more emotions than just being happy, and hopefully encourage them to escape those dark places that our minds so often wonder. There are so many things I want to do from starting non-profits, to services for at-risk youth, building my own production studio, network, and news outlet. The world is full of so many possibilities. I’m tackling them one step at a time.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Alicia LaDawn. Alicia is a Southern California born and raised Actress. She is best known for her role as Crystal in BET Her’s original, “Back to the Goode Life.” Her acting career began in Mid-August of 2018 and continues to pick up stream. She prides herself on being a trailblazer and is excited to share her journey with you.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My story, honestly, is not like most. It began on a hot summer. I was working at the airport as a manager for a large rental company when a customer backed up, on a one way street, into me while I was walking. It is the life-or-death moments, or as I would call them, “Life Interventions,” that manage to push you in the right direction. I knew deep down inside that I had no desire to continue working there, but had managed to get caught up between the money and the rat race, and it nearly cost me my life. That accident made me question my purpose and my deep desire. I was always told that if your dream doesn’t scare you it’s not big enough, and acting was one of those things that truly scared me. I was afraid to fail; afraid I wouldn’t make it. When the accident happened, I realized that living in fear wasn’t going to keep me safe: life still happens. So I was really failing by not even trying. So I decided that once I recovered, I would pursue my dream of becoming an actor. It’s been 9 months and I can’t imagine life without acting.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I was on set for the first time ever doing background for the FOX show 9–1–1 starring Angela Bassett. I had no idea what was going on, so I was leaning on a lot of strangers for support to get through the process. For example, getting to set on time. I was running far behind schedule, and when I got to the location where we were filming, I was positioned next to this lady who kept staring at me. She eventually worked up the courage to come up to me, and she kept saying she saw my face everywhere. I nicely told her she was confused, and reassured her that I was in fact a nobody. By this time Black Panther was playing in theathers, and I was told often that I favored Letitia Wright, “Shuri,”, so I asked her if maybe she was confusing her with me. She said “no” so matter-of-factly. She then proceeded to tell me she saw my face everywhere then she told me that I probably thought she was crazy, but that I would be a well-known actress one day. She was right…I did think she was crazy. Less than 3 months later, I was in a movie.When I went to Atlanta originally it was to help make the movie, but I won favor with the casting directors and producers and was put in the actual movie. If that’s not interesting…I don’t know what is. What’s even more interesting is when I was in Atlanta filming I had quite a few people think that they knew me or worked with me in the past. These people swore by the book.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Funny you should ask…I would say that the funniest mistake I ever made was believing that playing background would somehow make me a star. Now, I heard this happens for some people, but that pool of folks is small. I was a fresh actor with only about one month of acting under my belt, and I was convinced that I would use these background jobs to really act; to prove to those on set that they should hire me. Wishful thinking…I know. I was given a background scene partner. Me, thinking I knew what I was doing, I said to my partner if you want to be in the shot make sure you do the same thing over and over for continuity purposes. I just knew we would get noticed by doing this. So we did. Kimleigh Smith walks up to me and was like I’m sorry I was completely captivated by your performance. I had no idea who she was, but I thanked her and made small talk. She asked if she knew me from somewhere. I assured her that she did not. In the mist of the conversation I noticed Rockmond Dunbar looking over a few times, but he remained off to the side. After we ended our small talk, Kimleigh walked over to her post next to Rockmond then that’s when it dawned on me that she was the guest star of the show. We did a few takes and then Rockmond came over and gave me a compliment saying that my partner and I were on point beat by beat. I just knew we were going to be in the take. Mind you, this was my first background gig EVER! Well…when the show finally aired I was in the scene alright, as a blurred blob in the background that went completely unnoticed. All that advice to my partner and hype on Facebook that I was going to be in a show was for nothing. I was famous for being a blob. Let’s just say I quickly realized that was not it and peeled off into a better course of action towards becoming SAG-E.
Background is good as a source of income. Do not get caught up into thinking it will make you a star. I had better luck booking a role working on set as a Producer’s Assistant. Make sure you are well-rounded. Look for more than one way to make it in. Don’t get stuck with one way of doing things. Learn skills, sharpen them, then use them. This is a business. Learn the business and make use of the knowledge.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I just wrapped my first BET Her television movie, “Back to the Goode Life,” in November 2018. I play a teenager who was born to be the boss. She speaks her mind and fears nothing, although that is not always a good thing in her case, but after all, she is just a teenager. I am beyond blessed and grateful to be able to contribute my talents, as well as, what I’ve learn from other actors. The film just aired April 27th. These last few months have been geared around taking tons of classes, auditioning, and building my resume. I was fortunate enough to book a short film, called, “Catching Fire.” The film is a mesh between, “John Wick,” and “I Am Legend,” and it really hones in on the depths of loss and the internal battle we face after dealing with the death of loved ones; more specifically, the loss of a significant other. I believe that the writer/director is ahead of his time and I am excited to take a lead role in this short.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I’ve interacted with a few interesting people within the industry. Luckily, I have been fortunate to have met people who were willing to freely share their wisdom. The first person I met was Kyla Pratt. Kyla taught me that acting is suppose to be fun, and the best way to remember lines is to think of it as a conversation. But what I will never forget is a conversation between Kyla Pratt and Julian Brittano. I was on set telling them of my desire to become an actress, and they began to just pore information into me. They both mentioned a women named Charmin N. Lee. They talked about how helpful she was on their journey. Kyla had mentioned how she only went to two people to get coached before an audition, and Charmin was one of the two. A few days later, Charmin showed up on set to support both Kyla and Julian and Julian introduced me to her and told me to tell her my story. I opened up about about the accident, my desire to break into the industry, and my new role in the film. We exchanged contact information and she has been my coach and teacher ever since. It is a dream come true to have a camp of people who believe in my dream and are willing to vouch for me or assist me in getting to the next level.
Another person is Angela Bassett. I did not realize how much of a super fan I was until I got to work on set with her. I was outside standing in the mist of the crowd getting ready to shoot a store mob scene that just took place after a huge earthquake, and Angela Bassett bumped into me. You know the slight irritation that arises when someone bumps into you and you don’t hear sorry so you turn around to see who the offender is? It was her. The only words that managed to escape my mouth was, “Angela” She waived and said hello before taking her place on her mark. The most interesting people I’ve met has always been while on a set.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Remember your WHY. Why are you doing it? Let that not only drive you, but fuel you when you feel you are on empty. In order to succeed at anything in life, you must have this mentality anyway. Let nothing and no one detour you. Understand that there is a path that is designed for you that is specifically your own. KNOW that your time will come with persistency and consistency. That is the true formula for results. If you don’t believe me…try it. You are going to hear the word no, ALOT. You’re going to have door sometimes slammed in your face; find a window. Don’t take no for an answer. Find a way to turn the no, into a yes. Stay away from negative people, they will burn you out fast and people who are negative tend to stay stagnate. Find balance. What do you love to do? Make time for it. But most importantly don’t lose site of your WHY.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I have already started the process of starting the #RIPtoSilence Movement. So many Americans are depressed and don’t even know it. The suicide rates are higher than they’ve ever been and it is getting worse. The #RIPtoSilence Movement is about getting those who are thinking about suicide or feeling like their life is not worth living, to begin to talk. Not just suicidal people, but people in general. With the rise of social media so many have become emotionally mute because they don’t want to be viewed a certain way or they begin to compare their lives to the lives of those around them based on what they see on their social media. What they forget is, like them, most people are putting their best foot forward on social media. There are a lot of people pretending, but #RIPtoSilence is encouraging people to be themselves. Reminding them that it’s okay to have feelings and ultimately experience more emotions than just being happy, and hopefully encourage them to escape those dark places that our minds so often wonder. There are so many things I want to do from starting non-profits, to services for at-risk youth, building my own production studio, network, and news outlet. The world is full of so many possibilities. I’m Tackling them one step at a time.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Take plenty of classes — I recommend scene study, on-camera technique, cold reading, and improv to start.
- Build a resume — Try to get at least 8–10 projects on your resume (Short films, student films, web-series, etc) before seeking representation
- Don’t wait years to seek representation — this is the hardest part in my opinion. Start now. Find someone who will drive for you and does not have many people on their roster with your type. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for a trial period to ensure they hold up their end of the bargain
- Don’t pay for representation of any kind out of pocket.
- Doing a movie does not automatically open up doors for everybody. Keep working hard and remain persistent. Know that it is NOT going to happen over night. It takes time. Use that time wisely and STAY IN CLASS.
- BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH CASTING DIRECTORS
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Sometimes those on the left can do things that those on the right can only talk about,” I first heard this quote in high school and it has stood by me through the years. It’s a reminder that things get done through action, not by saying it. It’s a reminder that we are what we repeatedly DO. So let’s be DOERS and not Sayers. My life is about action on and off the screen.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
This may be so cliche, but my mom. If it had not been for her endless support, constant prayers, long hours of listening to me complain about my 9–5, and her encouragement of me to take the leap of faith…I would not be where I am today. After my injury she was the one who told me to just pursue my dream. I was concerned because I didn’t want to fail her. I graduated when I was 16 years old and when I went to college at 17. I wanted to major in Theater and Film. Seeing as my mom was paying for I was not completely comfortable with spending money on a degree that may or may not help me in life. So I went to school for business, got my degree and went to work in the business world thinking I would make her proud. She wanted me to have a plan that I could fallback on. Truth was…I wasn’t the personality to need a fallback plan. I will stick to it until I make it happen…that’s just my personality. So the moment she gave me the green light to pursue my dreams it didn’t matter what anyone else said…I was going to make HER proud.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
Wow…there are two people that come to mind: Angela Bassett and Tyler Perry. I would love to have Angela Bassett mentor me. I’ve always admired her acting style and how she carries herself. As for Tyler Perry, I have a ton of questions for him. I want to hear his story. I want to learn from him. Before there was a Tyler Perry there was a dream. I want to know what inspired him to just go for it. How long did it take before he realized this was his calling? I want to ask him questions regarding running TPS. My philosophy since I was a child has always been to learn from those who are more seasoned and are doing what you may want to do, not only so you can glen from them, but also so you can save yourself from a lot of mistakes.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Instagram — @AliciaLaDawn
Facebook — @ItsAliciaLaDawn
Twitter — @ItsAliciaLaDawn
Website — www.AliciaLaDawn.com
*From the website you can gain access to all my social links including YouTube
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!