Rising Star Emily Hughes On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry
…Getting an agent/manager shouldn’t be the first thing you try to do. Many new actors say they want to act and the first thing they do is try to get an agent or manager, but at that early stage, the important thing is training and self-submitting to projects that you can start to build your resume with, and then present yourself to an agent when you have experience.
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Emily Hughes.
Emily Hughes is an American actress who is from Philadelphia Pennsylvania, with plans to move to Los Angeles in the near future to continue her acting career. When she is not acting, she is creating content on her YouTube channel “Emily Hughes” where she shares fun vlogs, and lifestyle and acting-related videos.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you for having me! I was born and raised in West Chester Pennsylvania and live there to this day! I grew up with three older sisters and my amazing parents who were and are so supportive of me and my sisters. A lot of my early childhood through my teen years were spent horseback riding, and we even had a pony living in our backyard that we turned into a field! In high school, I was a cheerleader my sophomore and junior year and got to compete at UCA Nationals in Disney my first year on the competition team which was super fun. I also competed in a horse show series called IEA and was Champion in my division my senior year of high school which was a great way to wrap up my time with the sport!
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
The story of how I started acting is actually pretty recent because I didn’t start until almost a year after I graduated high school in 2020. That was right when covid had hit so I couldn’t do much horseback riding anymore, and with so much free time I decided to start a YouTube channel shortly after losing my stepdad that January. I decided that life is too short to not follow my biggest dreams and at the time, those dreams were more in the YouTube influencer path, which also led me to acting a few months later. I just remember sitting on my bed one day watching Riverdale, and it’s like a light bulb just went off in my mind that I wanted to become an actor. It was the most surreal thing because it had been a thought in my mind pretty much my entire life growing up and watching my friends in plays as kids, but I never really admitted that to myself or thought it was something I could actually do until that day, and I haven’t looked back since!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
My career is still very much in its early stages, but I would say the most interesting story has to be how I booked my first feature film credits. I booked a very small supporting role in a short film early this year from meeting the director of it on a union film I did background on a few months before, and that has since led to a direct offer to a very big supporting role in a feature that director is filming this summer! So, my second credit ever is a direct offer which I think is pretty exciting and I’m so excited to see what is to come!
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?
I’m still very much learning the ins and outs of this business, but I would say the funniest mistake I made when I first began was my self-tapes for any auditions. I pretty much started self-submitting right away just to see if anything would happen on Backstage and Actors Access, and I just remember having horrible lighting, not the proper background, and not even working on the character because I didn’t know how. I think this is something that many brand-new actors do, but I definitely learned that there are right ways to do things and that I needed to learn how to act and properly make a self-tape before I tried to audition for something!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I actually have two projects (so far ;) that I’m working on later this summer! Both are feature films and I’m not sure what else I can share! But they are definitely super interesting films and will be a fun and enlightening experience for me and I can’t wait to share more about them when the time comes that I can!
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
I think the best advice I can share is that you need to have a strong sense of self-awareness and confidence, as well as perseverance and persistence. Being aware of yourself including your mind and body allows you to figure out who you are as a person and lets you be your most authentic and instinctive self when you’re acting because you know how to use yourself and follow your instincts! Having confidence even if you don’t think you should shows people that you are a serious individual and it changes the way people look at you in a huge sense. It shows them that you know your worth and that you deserve everything you work for, and I think shifting your mindset to this in a way that isn’t conceitful allows you to basically “fake it till you make it,” and lets you see yourself as a strong and worthy individual which in turn makes others see you the same way. There’s a lot of negativity around that phrase “fake it till you make it” but I think thinking of it as more of a positive mind shift and respecting yourself sets you up to be taken more seriously, which is what we all strive for in this business! I think taking care of yourself mentally is so important because we all know how harsh this industry can be and it comes with so much rejection, so having the strength to persevere and keep going already puts you so much further ahead than people who decided to quit after getting one too many no’s. Also, it’s definitely easier said than done, but you cannot compare your journey to others, because no two people find success the exact same way. We are all our own people with unique stories and lives, so all our journeys are going to be different and that’s good! Finally, I would say to be kind and patient with yourself and allow yourself to use your falls as a learning experience because that is the only way we grow, when we make mistakes and keep going and using them to our benefit rather than to tear ourselves down.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I think it’s so important to have diversity represented in film and tv because for one, it allows people who hadn’t formerly ever seen someone on a screen that looked like them to be able to feel seen and have a sense of relatability. For example, in the recent film Encanto, although it’s animated, so many people who saw a resemblance of themselves spoke out about it on social media like TikTok, sharing that it was the first time they’d seen someone on screen who looks like them. Secondly, I think it will help increase diversity in aspects outside of entertainment like in the other career paths because I strongly believe that what people watch influences their thoughts and behaviors and if we’re seeing more diverse individuals on screen, I think it would definitely increase it more in life outside of the entertainment industry. Lastly, I think it’s important because no matter what we look like, we are all human beings who deserve to be treated equally no matter what, so I don’t see why it shouldn’t be like that in the entertainment industry. We all deserve a chance for success no matter the field and everyone should be able to look at the tv or movie screen and see themselves because like I said before, it lets people find someone they can relate to or look up to in a sense.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
First, that this is not going to be easy or simple. I feel like a lot of people think that acting is easy and that you can just do it without training very much, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It may look easy, but it takes a lot of time and energy to learn the craft and constantly practice and train to become better and better. Second, that it’s important to understand the business of show business. There is so much to learn about how the business works and through training with Wendy Alane Wright who teaches the business specifically, I have learned so much that has helped me do things the right way that allows me to move forward faster than actors who are trying to figure it out on their own. Third, that you have to invest in your career if you want to see significant forward movement. Many actors will take headshots on their phones and don’t invest in professional headshots or the proper self-taping equipment or getting into amazing acting classes, and they’re just idling on neutral because there are so many other actors who are doing those things and putting off a professional name and image for themselves, getting them more work. Fourth, that getting an agent/manager shouldn’t be the first thing you try to do. Many new actors say they want to act and the first thing they do is try to get an agent or manager, but at that early stage, the important thing is training and self-submitting to projects that you can start to build your resume with, and then present yourself to an agent when you have experience. Fifth, that it takes a long time to get into this industry and that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You need to work hard on your craft and build a name for yourself before you can truly be taken seriously in the business, and that takes a long time for many actors. So, being patient is definitely an important skill to have in this business!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would say to definitely take care of your mind and body, and to take breaks when you need to because the entertainment industry isn’t going anywhere and there will ALWAYS be more roles, no matter your age or where you’re at in your life. I think as people in general and not just actors, a lot can be said for shifting to a healthy lifestyle whether that’s changing up your diet or activity levels, we can always improve our minds by helping our bodies first. I would also say that you are not alone and that it’s completely normal to experience setbacks like the feeling of being “burnt out”, but what matters is how we take care of ourselves during those times and come back to the game even stronger.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire 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. :-)
If I could inspire a movement of any kind to bring more good to the world and people, it would be something to encourage people to simply be kind and have an open mind and keep unkind thoughts to themselves. In recent times, we are so quick to judge others by their beliefs whether it’s political, religious, or just personal opinions, and I think as human beings we need to be more open to agreeing to disagree and treating people with respect and kindness regardless of who they are or what they believe. There is so much hatred in the world and I think doing something as simple as being kind can go a long way.
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?
There are so many people who have helped me so far on this journey! As I mentioned before, Wendy Alane Wright teaches the business of acting in her Hollywood Winners Circle course and without that guidance and knowledge I would still be running circles not knowing where to start, so I am very grateful to her and all the other incredible humans who teach within her program! I am also very grateful for my coach Tania Nolan who teaches at Margie Haber Studios in LA, as well as Diana Frankhauser who teaches at the Houde School of Acting in Cleveland. All these wonderful people have taught me and still are teaching me so much and I wouldn’t be where I’m at without them! I also look forward to discovering how much I will continue to grow through their incredible guidance. And of course, my parents, who have been so supportive of me from the start when I told them I wanted to become an actor. They have never questioned or doubted my decisions and I can’t be any more grateful!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I would have to say that my favorite life lesson quote is “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending” -C.S. Lewis. I love this because it deepens the idea that you have the power to write your own story and despite not being able to change your past, you can control your future and how you decide to live your life from here on out. This resonates with me because when I started acting, I always asked myself why it took me so long to go for it and that I could be so much further in my career right now if I had started as a young kid. But thoughts like that don’t do any good because there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it, all I can do is be grateful that I’m starting now and take charge of my future.
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 just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
I would love to meet so many incredible people, but if I have to choose just one, I would say it would be Lili Reinhart. She is an incredibly talented actress who I’ve looked up to since I first saw her on Riverdale back when season one was released. People always tell me I resemble her a bit (maybe because we’re both blonde, haha) but I also have found out that we share the same birthday, September 13, just 5 years apart. So, I definitely look up to her as a role model in this industry and she is so outspoken about her personal struggles and life that so many people can relate to and I think it’s so amazing that she is willing to share her experiences and thoughts with the world, and her almost 30 million followers on Instagram. Playing a flashback to the high school version of Betty in Riverdale would probably be a dream come true!
How can our readers follow you online?
My Instagram is @emilyhughes._ and my TikTok is @emilyxhughes! They can also check out my YouTube channel which is my name “Emily Hughes”! Thank you so much!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thank you for having me here to interview, it was an honor!