Over the past 11 years, I’ve interviewed almost 100 celebrities for the site. In almost every interview, I started by asking how the person got into the entertainment business. It always made sense to me to follow the arc of the person’s career, from their humble beginnings to today.
But recently, I realized there was more to it than that. I’ve been listening to celebrities talk about how they made it. The one thing they all had in common was that there was a moment, either big or small, where they decided to turn away from a “normal” life to follow their dreams. They all crossed a threshold, leaving a nine-to-five existence in favor of … well, possibly starring in a remake of the Dolly Parton film Nine to Five.
Conducting these interviews has been a welcome distraction from my own nine-to-five existence. Over the past 11 years, I’ve worked a number of different jobs while running this site as a passion project in my free time. I’ve lived vicariously through these stories of people leaving it all behind to seek out a life less ordinary.
But I’ve never been content to just do the things I love on the side. Beneath the surface, there’s been unrest. I think the reason I kept asking the same question over and over again was that I was asking permission to pursue my own dreams. So many people think of these types of dreams as a phase people grow out of. I wanted to hear from people who never listened to those naysayers. I wanted them to tell me it was okay to want a creatively-fulfilling life.
I don’t want to be a famous actor. Or a household name. All I want, all I’ve ever wanted, is to making a living as a writer. I love movies and television with all my heart. And I would love to be someone writing those films and TV shows. I want to sit in writers’ rooms with other passionate people and craft stories that people will love (or, at the very least, play in the background while surfing Facebook on their phones).
This past year has been a tumultuous one for many reasons. I lost my nine-to-five job (which was a huge blessing in disguise, but definitely not fun at the time). My landlord announced he was selling the place I lived. And my amazing fiancé’s health slowly deteriorated (due to what we eventually discovered is a rare condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome), causing her to have to leave a job she loved.
It felt cartoonishly cruel that so much was thrown at us all at once. But it also helped us realize that perhaps it was time for a change. That’s when we realized that it was our time to roll the dice and chase our dreams. It was our turn to pack up all of our possession and to head out west. In a little under a month, we are leaving Baltimore and moving to Los Angeles.
I’ve thought about moving to LA many times over the years. Deep down, I think I’ve always known it is where I need to be if I want to be involved in the entertainment industry. In Baltimore, I can conduct phone interviews with celebrities, take occasional road trips to New York to cover live events and be an extra in House of Cards. But I’ve done all that and, while it has all been amazing, I still want more.
But, every time I got the urge to move to Los Angeles, it quickly faded when I started thinking of the realities of moving. It began to all seem so overwhelming and scary. It took finding someone else who was passionate about her artistic endeavors and willing to take a big risk to finally make the move.
Which doesn’t mean that it didn’t feel scary. There was a solid week or two where I really started questioning our sanity. But it was actually my good friend Fontina Turner, who made a similar life-changing move from Philadelphia to Cleveland, who told me that once I stopped fighting the decision, I would feel so much better. And she was right. Pushing past the fear, I started getting really excited about the change. And now, I can barely wait to leave.
I don’t know what the future holds for me and Molly. Maybe we’ll get out there and find that it isn’t what we hoped it would be. Maybe we’ll end up chalking this up as a failed experiment.
But maybe, just maybe, someday soon I’ll end up sitting face-to-face with a young, ambitious interviewer who will ask me how I got into the business. And I’ll smile, then begin telling him my story …
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.