Truth Talks: Amanda

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meet amanda,

my best friend for as long as i can remember (ok, seventh grade). it may seem biased to include her, but trust me, there’s a reason. i’m a little frustrated this is interview is typed and not a live session because her energy is so infectious - nobody lifts you up, believes in you, or pushes you to be courageous quite like amanda does. she’s currently living her most authentic and unapologetic life in new york city, so i figured that our recent catch-up session was the perfect time to share her with y’all.

Hi. So I know you, but my readers don’t. Just to clarify, what did you major in?

I double-majored in Drama and Education, and I have my Master’s in Teaching, my multiple-subject teaching credential.

You completed both programs back-to-back, and then you went straight to New York for acting. Why? You studied education, and common sense or society would say, “Now, go teach,” but you moved across the country to pursue acting.

Ever since I was twelve years old, I’ve had a passion for theater. When I visited New York with my parents, I had this feeling that I want to live here someday. I was lucky enough to go to a college that had a program that let us live in New York for a month. Everyone says that through the program, you figure out you want to live here after school or, “Wow, the city is really not for me.” Doing the program, I just fell more and more in love with the city every day. Anyone who studies theater or is part of the theater community knows that it’s nearly impossible to break into, but it’s a love that you can’t not give a shot. If you have the inkling, you’ve got to do it or you’ll regret it.

“I’m not someone that likes to live with regret. My ultimate goal in life is to just pursue happiness.”

I knew I wanted to pursue theater with everything that I had, and I also know that I’m someone who could never do a stereotypical 9-to-5 job. I love children, I love the fact that teaching is constantly changing, and I love that you can enact social change when you’re an elementary school teacher because you can open up kids’ minds to the world. You’re their first look at what the world is like and what the world can be. Even on days when teaching is hard, you have to think, “What I’m doing is important. I’m giving a child a childhood that they might not otherwise get because of where they live and their socioeconomic status. They might not to get to celebrate all the holidays, and the classroom might be the only place where I get to give these children a childhood.” Or, in a high-income area, kids get to have a childhood, but they might have close-minded views and think things about the world just because that’s what their parents have told them.

I remember being in second grade and my dad came in and read. This girl goes, “Oh, well Jews are bad.” My teacher stopped and was like, “What?” because obviously she’s just parroting something her parents had said. My teacher asked, “Why do you say that?” She goes, “Well, I just know they’re bad people. Jewish people are bad.” The teacher goes, “Well, do you like Mr. Tannenbaum?” And she says, “Yeah, Mr. Tannenbaum is great! We love when he comes in and reads.” My teacher goes, “Well, he’s Jewish.” She goes, “What?” From that moment, it was a real change of, “Oh, I can’t take everything my parents say to be completely true. I have to take what they say with a grain of salt because the world isn’t just the way they see it.” You may have people who think being gay or being trans is wrong, but when you open up children’s eyes at such a young age, it can almost keep that openness through the rest of their life. It doesn’t always, but I live with the hope that you can affect change.

That’s what drew me to teaching, because I thought, “After I pursue theater, my biggest passion, with everything that I have, I want a job that has security, but also that I love, and that will make me feel fulfilled as a person.” Luckily I went to a school that had a program where, from the day you graduate undergrad to the day that you graduate with your Master’s, it’s only fourteen months. It’s easier to stay in a school mindset than to go off, have an adventure, come back, and re-teach yourself how to write papers, because it’s something you can get out of practice with if you wait long enough. I thought, “I’ve already got my nose to the grind, I can do it for another fourteen months. Let’s get this done.” I did a lot of research and talked to the professor who runs the program, and she said, “Well, you have five years before your teaching credential expires.” All my classmates were stressing about getting a job right away, and people have tried to impart that fear on me. But when she said that you have five years before it expires, I thought, “Wow, that gives me five years to have a really cool chapter in my life,” where I’m allowed to have no responsibilities and I don’t necessarily have to save all my money. I don’t have to worry about my retirement because if I start teaching at twenty-four, I could work my thirty years and retire as a teacher at fifty-four, and then what? Be old and maybe not have as much energy as I do now? Or I can wait five years and if I start teaching at twenty-eight. I’d retire at fifty-eight, and that already kind of seems too early to retire, so why not give it a chance, go to New York, pursue something I love, and have the adventure of a lifetime?

How did you have the confidence to make the leap of faith from a small town to one of the biggest cities in the world? You didn’t know anyone, not even know your roommates, beforehand. You just went for it.

I really want to say that I was scared and that it was hard and there were troubles, but to be honest, this adventure has been crazy and it hasn’t given me enough time to feel afraid, just excited. I had been here maybe two weeks, and then I started my job the day that I moved into my apartment. My brother came and visited me the first weekend I was here after working for a full week. I remember getting paid for my week of work, and it was more money than I had ever made working a full season as an assistant ski instructor. I looked at that and thought, “Oh, my gosh, I made enough money that I am able to support myself. I can pay for all the food that I eat out, I can pay for my apartment, and I will have extra money to take dance classes and voice lessons.” I was grinning, and my brother’s like, “It’s exciting. Everything is new and fresh right now; that’s why it’s so exciting. But just be prepared for when everything’s not new and fresh and exciting.” I just kept waiting and waiting for it to get kind of monotonous. And then I realized it’s not. It had been six months, and it was still exciting and wonderful and new. Then a year, and now I’m getting close to a year and a half and I don’t feel at all jaded, where I see a lot of my peers feel jaded by the city and by the tedious audition process.

I find new adventure and love nearly every day and I am a firm believer that yes, there is such thing as mental health and a lot of people struggle with mental health issues, but I think a lot of our generation also struggles from laziness - and I don’t mean laziness in work - I mean laziness in that they do the lazy, easy thing of hopping on social media or immersing themselves in television and not letting themselves live fully.

“I think that if you choose to constantly find new adventure, you can almost create happiness.”

There are definitely days when all my roommates were at work and I’d say, “Wow, I feel really lonely. It’s Saturday, I’m sitting on the couch, and I have no one to hang out with, nothing to do. This really sucks.” I told you I felt that way on Tuesday. I was like, “Everyone’s busy and I’m watching my seventh hour of Game of Thrones. This is horrible.” Then I thought, “Screw this! Let’s go do something different. Let’s have an adventure. Let’s go see a show, clean out my closet, just do something.

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The transition was happy because I told myself that I was going to do whatever it takes to pursue that happiness. At the beginning, there were days that I felt lonely and I was like, “How can I combat this loneliness?” I thought, “Ah, if I had music in my life, I’d feel better.” So my dad brought over my ukulele first, and then my guitar. A few months later, he shipped over my piano. Just knowing that I have these outlets of creativity gives me a lot of joy.


New York is of course more energetic. I really appreciate that the big city has given me a very diverse group of friends. I’m in a book club where I’m the only American person, and the ages range from twenty-four to early thirties. I’m part of a climbing group where, anytime I would have gone climbing in California, I would see a lot of people around my age, but yesterday I met a father of two kids. He’s an avid climber from Colorado, a big outdoorsy person who somehow lives in New York, this concrete jungle. Going to a big city affords you the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds who you may not otherwise get to casually meet in a suburb. You might have one friend who has an accent and it’s a novelty, but what’s cool is here, being from somewhere else isn’t a novelty; it’s normal.

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Touching on pursuing happiness, I agree with you. I’ve found that happiness is fleeting and at times, it’s a choice. What motivates you to do all these things? Do you think it’s just innate to your personality? Do you ever have to work up courage to go try something new?

100%. I have to work myself up because there are times when it takes so much effort and work. Obviously you have to get out of bed, but I almost find that it starts with putting on your clothes for the day; that can really dictate what you’re going to do. Sometimes it can be that little push to do things that my laziness might want to overtake. For example, my roommate Dee has invited me to go out to [watch] Drag Race. I may wake up on a Friday and feel really exhausted knowing that I have to nanny the boys from noon until 6 PM, which would mean going straight from there to the drag show. I would be hungry and tired. I would want to go home, shower, and snuggle up in some comfy PJs, but I’ll pack a bag and I go, “Okay, this is an outfit that I love and feel pretty in.” I put it in my bag and I tell myself, “I carried this around all day, like, I have to put it on.” I leave nannying, I put it on, and then I go out. There have been times that I’ve gone out to Drag Race where we just had a silly night and came back and ended up putting drag on ourselves.

One time, we went out and met this Argentinian guy and went dancing and I met other guys from Brazil who I went salsa dancing with, and honestly, it was one of the coolest feelings because I felt so beautiful and sexy when they were dancing with me. It wasn’t in a sexual way; it was like, “Wow, I feel alive and I’m getting to do something that I’ve never done before.” It was such a cool experience and the next day I woke up on this high going, “What a fun night that was.”

Some people wear workout clothes every day because they’re comfy. I don’t do that; I wear workout clothes when I’m going to the rock-climbing gym. I try not to wear them on days when I’m feeling eh. Somedays I just have a voice lesson, and I think I’m going to come back and change into more low-key clothes for nannying, but when I go to voice lessons, my voice teacher will say, “Oh, you look so nice. What are you doing today? I love your outfit.” It makes me feel excited to portray certain parts of me and then I think, “Wow, I know that this outfit gets praise and I can wear this in an audition setting.” It puts me in the right mindset to go do something. It puts me in the right headspace to say, “I’m feeling confident today so instead of going home, maybe I’ll wear this all day, go sit in a Starbucks, and map out the next forty auditions that are coming in the next month and see what I would be good for and what I need to prepare for.” I feel more productive when I do that.

“Dress for what you want to do. And then do it.”

Going back to your example with the Brazilians and dancing - that doesn’t surprise me one bit because you are the funnest person I know. You make life a party and I never see you stress over the small stuff. Would you say that showing up and making the effort the zest of life?

Absolutely. I think there are people who are going to show up and find the negative and that then has to do with personality. I love her to bits, but I’ve got a friend who does show up, but she finds the negative in everything.

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When you show up, always acknowledge how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling anxious or tired or nervous, accept that and then go act. I think you first have to be conscious of how you’re feeling to then be able to choose to see something in a new light and say, “Okay, I’m nervous, but how exciting that I’m feeling nervous and not feeling bored. How beautiful that I get to feel something other than boredom.”

Or, feeling nothing, because when I say happiness, it doesn’t always mean the emotion that we think of as happiness.

Happiness is sometimes being taken out of your comfort zone and feeling nervous.

I think that happiness comes from feeling alive, and feeling alive is a whole broad spectrum of emotion. It sounds weird, but I think crying is part of happiness. I don’t mean a happy cry. It’s heartbreak, but then I feel something, which makes me feel more alive and happier.

I guess alive would be the word instead of happiness, because I think the true pitfall of our society is being numb.

Being numb would be the antithesis of being alive.

Wow. That is why I look up to you so much. Another thing I admire about you is that you don’t do anything halfway - you make dinner from scratch, you go all-out decorating a temporary space, and nothing really gets you down for too long. You also accommodate everyone before yourself. You are constantly thinking of others and you remember things about me that I don’t even remember! How do you give so much to others and still stay sane? Where do you get your energy from?

I feel really flattered that you say that I do everything full-throttle because a lot of times I feel like I half-ass things, so I really appreciate you saying that. Also, there was a question that you said earlier about what gave you confidence to move from California to New York, and I have to equate all of that to my parents. My parents have given me the confidence to do everything. They always told me, “You can do anything you want. You can do anything you set your heart to.” They are how I am able to be who I am and pursue what I love. They’ve given me the confidence to apply for jobs, to find roommates, to make the big move, and also to be happy. My mom and dad really are everything I aspire to be, and I hope that I am a mix of both of them because they are such great people.

You 100% are; your whole family is amazing.

I definitely appreciate you saying that I do all that stuff, but I also feel guilty because as much as I denounce technology and say that there’s negatives, there’s a lot of positives. My roommate Dee is able to keep such deep, amazing connections with her friends all around the world because she makes time. I really admire that about her. I think it’s such a cop-out for me to say that I’m bad at it.

I wish that I could be better about it, but the time that I don’t spend on my phone gives me the energy to then go out and do other things. Also, I’m a big advocate for eating healthy, although I don’t always do it. My favorite foods are ice cream, French fries, and chicken strips. However, for the last week, I’ve been eating Greek yogurt and blueberries for breakfast or a kale, blueberry, cottage cheese smoothie, which tastes about as good as it sounds. I notice that when I eat the right foods, I feel more energized to go do the things that I want to do. It’s hard to say exactly where my energy comes from, but I would say one, my verve for life, but also eating healthy and getting enough sleep, because on the days I don’t, I feel sluggish. I don’t feel myself. I think it’s finding a balance of what it is for you that makes you tick. If Webster needed a picture for extrovert, I could be that, but I think I could also be a poster child for the word annoying -

No!

Yes. I accept these things about myself. The word extrovert sounds much nicer than annoying, because I think it can be a fault. But I do agree that I am an extrovert and I feed off of human interaction. That’s why I knew with my roommates leaving, I had to be proactive. I knew I would feel lonely. I don’t want to not love New York as much as I love New York, and I think there’s a good possibility of that happening if I’m not having the social interaction that I get every day. My mornings and nights are filled with my roommates or mutual friends that we’ve made together.  That’s where I was like, “I’ve got to get into the climbing gym because I know that’s a place where I’ll be able to make connections, meet friends, and feel the energy,” because I’m someone who feeds off of being around other people and getting to talk and enjoy the company of others.

I wish I was like that.

But see, I think there’s a romanticism about being up in the mountains by yourself and having that solitary time. It feels very appealing to me in theory, but in reality, I don’t think I’d be able to do it. However, I think it’s so beautiful because those kinds of people can really find their own happiness because they don’t rely on others. So as much as I’m an extrovert, I’m almost dependent on others for my happiness in a way – not necessarily one single person, but people as a collective.

Where does this self-awareness come from? You are so in-tune with yourself and so honest. Is it the time you spend reading, or reflection? I’m always in awe of you.

I think it’s the culmination of a few things. I recently started reading again, and I feel very inspired. I let myself feel open to books, movies, and television shows. I’m able to feel that and go, “Wow, that’s what I want.” Then I think, “How can I get that if that’s something I really want?”

It’s funny you mentioned reading and being in your own thoughts, because my brother recently started listening to books on tape and I told him that I don’t really like books on tape. He listens to them at 3x the normal speed, so it sounds like a hum of words. He’s like, “If you focus, you can catch all the words,” where, to me, reading is not so much about getting through all the material. I like to be alone with my thoughts because when I’m reading a book, I almost insert myself into the story. I’ll read something that an author has put down and go, “Wow, I really appreciate that. I feel that.” It’s a time where I get to do a lot of self-reflection.

The second reason why I am self-aware is because I had a really hard time finding who I was in middle school. My first friend was the librarian; my second friend was made in the library. I ended up hanging out with a group who was really mean and I never thought, “Who am I?” I just thought, “Wow, I want friends.” I craved fitting in somewhere and I think I molded myself to whatever the group that I was in at the time, to what I thought they wanted me to be. Then, come sophomore year of high school, I lost all my friends.

I thought, “Is that really who you were, or were you being that way because you liked the attention and you liked having people to hang out with?” I had this one friend and I thought, “I’m going to be this way because I think this is who she wants me to be, and if I’m this way, then I’m going to have friends.”

Then when I lost all of that, I was like, “Okay wait, was it really a loss? Or is it a gain?” Because now that I’ve lost that, I’m also going to shed who I was trying to be and I get spend these years figuring out who I actually am. During those years, I was visiting colleges, and I realized I’m not this one-note person. I’m multi-faceted and I don’t have to be ashamed of the things that I like, such as the fact that I really like mathematics and feel inspired to one day teach myself calculus again. I no longer feel ashamed because I don’t have to be this stereotypical popular kid, not that I ever was, but that’s no longer something I’m striving for. That’s what really sparked that self-awareness of, “Hey, who are you? What do you like?”

“Find the things you like and own them. The most attractive quality is someone’s passion, and seeing them talk about the things they’re actually interested in. You don’t even have to be interested in them to listen with excitement. I mean, listening to a podcast on the kilogram – I’m not interested in the kilogram in the slightest. Listening to someone talk about it for fifty minutes with such excitement, I was like, “Damn! The kilogram is amazing!” It’s just exciting.”

My experiences through middle and high school really shaped my self-awareness because I was forced into ice cold water and I had to navigate it and figure out how to pull myself out, and be holistically myself on the other side.

That’s such a good analogy. I’m so glad we’re friends and that you are around people who truly appreciate you and all that you are. Now, circling back to how you went to New York… you said, “This is my dream. This is what I’m doing,” and then you went for it. Do you have any advice for people who have these dreams but are hesitating to follow through, or they’re letting other people’s criticisms in?

Do not let other people project their insecurities onto you. Let yourself feel nervous and then take the step. One thing that I found living in New York is that it’s a place where everything works out. It’s given me the confidence that no matter where I go in my life, no matter what happens to me, I can make it out on the other end. If I can do it, you can do it as well. if you have the slightest inkling, especially if you’re young and don’t have kids and aren’t married, now is the time that you get to live for yourself.

“I think people use the word selfish in such a negative light. To me, it is the most beautiful word because there’s a difference between being self-centered and being selfish. Now is the time to be selfish and do everything that you could dream of, everything you could possibly think you might want to do because yes, you have responsibilities and yes, you don’t want to end up homeless, but you have to trust yourself and know that you can do it. You have to have faith. Now is the time that you get to live for yourself. If you’re in a job that you don’t love, try something different. Find your own happiness because inactivity is safe and easy, but it’s also so easy to feel numb and bored. It might be hard and you might be afraid; you might struggle and you might break down and cry, but how beautiful to feel alive than it is to feel numb.”

Some people have said, “I think it’s time for you to come back and get married,” or, “Aren’t you afraid that you’re not going to a get a job? What if that happens?” People have told me, “How sad that you left your boyfriend behind! Don’t you feel sorry for him?” No, because I think that everyone gets to live their own life.

I have received criticism for what I’m doing, but I choose to ignore those people. To be honest, if I was getting criticism from my mom, my dad, and my brother, I think it would be a different story and I don’t know if I would be here, but if it’s not coming from those three, and really all three of them, then it doesn’t matter as much.

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I couldn’t care less what they say because I’m not living my life for the people who criticize me. I’m living my life for myself. It’s important to have people that you really value and whose opinions you trust because the world can be lonely and scary to navigate without someone to confide in. You’ve got to find the right people who are going to encourage you and have similar mindsets where, when you have an idea, will tell you that you can do that. Because maybe you don’t feel confident enough or you don’t have the push to do it yourself, but with one or two other people that are telling you that you can do this, you’ll feel ready. Or close enough to ready, because you never feel ready enough. It’s always going to be scary.

You’re right. I don’t think I’m ever ready for anything, but it just kind of happens anyways. I don't want people to get the wrong idea about you - you will never settle, but you have the work ethic and practicality to back it up. You throw caution to the wind because you know you’ve done your homework and are going to figure it out regardless of what goes wrong or right. You have the perfect balance of drive and desire. What’s your secret?

I’ve definitely made plans, but I think our society places too much emphasis on having a timeline. I remember being younger and thinking about what age I wanted to get married by. The older I get, the more I realize, “Okay that’s not right.” Say in a month, I go, “I hate New York. I want to move back home and get married.” I gave myself this limit of time that isn’t necessary. Have things that you want to accomplish, and then let the timeline fall into place. Let be there some room for spontaneity when it comes to this timeline, but have a general idea.

Say I decide that I don’t want to pursue theater anymore; I gave it my shot and I’m ready for something different. I said to my boyfriend, “If I still have time left in my five-year plan before I start teaching, maybe I’ll move to Ireland for six months,” because I could see myself enjoying those new experiences. I have plans and tentative things that I could do if I wanted to, but I also allow myself to be open. There’s a fine balance with finding how I can plan enough so that I’m not being stupid, but also not have plans set in stone and all these pressures to do something according to the timeline that I set five years ago, or according to what someone else tries to project on me.





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Speaking of Ireland… you’re also quite the traveler. Where is your favorite place you’ve ever been?

They’re my favorites for different reasons. Paris is one of my favorite romantic places I’ve ever been, and the food is so incredible. Italy is my favorite place when it comes to history. I love a historical vacation where you get to go, go, go, and learn something new every time you go there because it’s just so beautiful. But if I have to say my downright favorite place, I’d pick Iceland. If any of your readers have the smallest inkling to go, plan a trip now because I don’t know if it will always be as untouched and beautiful as it is now. It’s becoming a bigger touristy place, and I don’t know if people are going to try to capitalize on tourism and start putting barriers around the stops that you can make, or they might charge you a Euro to get in. When I went with my friend Catalina, we did it so cheaply that it made it more awesome knowing that I could have this incredible vacation and spend maybe $500?

That’s insane. Circling back to studying education, you want to eventually teach 2nd or 3rd grade. Is there anything surprising you learned about teaching through your program?

I remember going into teaching thinking, “Wow, yes, social change and stuff, but how cool, I get summers off, winter break, and spring break. Awesome!” Right?

Right?

Wrong!

No.

Yes, breaks are great, but they’re no longer something that I think of as simple. It’s easy to think that teachers don’t work that much… Oh, my God. I have never been more physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted as I have teaching. I was not prepared for the take on that it was. People criticize teachers, but there’s a difficulty level that people don’t understand. We’re constantly being subjected to new curriculums.  Some schools are brilliant and will teach teachers how to teach a new curriculum, but sometimes you’re left in the dark. It’s frightening being in front of thirty new kids every year, and you don’t know their personalities. Kids can be relentless. It’s scary knowing that you have this responsibility to teach when some kids really don’t want to learn. You’re doing everything you can, yet you feel like you’re a failure, so you’re constantly struggling with feelings of being inadequate on top of being emotionally exhausted.

It’s also frustrating seeing people in politics who get to affect a lot of educational but have no understanding of what it’s like to spend a year in a classroom with a class, to see what kids really need and what teachers need to teach. If you want to be an education official, I think it’s important that at one point you were a teacher. The best principals I’ve ever met were teachers before, so they know what needs to happen in the classroom. It’s important for people to know what it’s like to be in a classroom.

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Switching gears a little bit… you don’t have social media. Do you intentionally avoid it?Would you ever an get Instagram? We’re not social media friends on anything. Do you think if you had Instagram or whatever, it would affect your friendships at all?

I can’t say if it would affect friendships because I’m already so bad with the forms of social media that I do have. I don’t ever see myself getting an Instagram. Last night my cousin said, “Amanda, please get one! I never get to see what’s going on in your life.” And then I realized… I love getting to take pictures and have those pictures. Yes, I look at them and I go, “Wait, no, I don’t like myself. I want another one that looks better.” But then I think, “Who am I trying to look good for?” I realize later on that I just love the picture. I never post it. It’s never for anyone but myself, but I see people I know sitting on the couch, judging how they look, and making sure everything is perfect rather than allowing themselves to live fully in the moment. I definitely get caught up in that, too, when I take pictures of myself for Snapchat. That’s when I start judging myself through the eyes of others. I love the fact that I get to judge myself through the eyes of me, so that the pictures are truly for me and for getting to show them to family and friends, not other people who I’m trying to impress.

I know myself; I know I would really get into that whole “making sure I have the right filter” and making an aesthetic, which is so not who I am, but it would be easy to fall into that. For my own mental health and happiness, I don’t really see myself getting involved. There are times when my roommates will tell me about one of her friends, and she’ll show me a picture. I’ll want to look through and see what they have. It’s fun to get to see what they’re up to or places they’ve been, but at the same time, I’m not being a big part of it.

I wish I could do it and just post a couple things and see my friends, but I know myself. When I was on Facebook and I would post in college, I’d check often to see if I had a new notification, to see who actually liked my stuff, and who viewed it. I get very wrapped up in that. I don’t think it’s necessarily healthy for myself. I prefer to live in oblivion and with in-person human connections.

Aside from unplugging from social media, what is one thing everyone should know how to do?

Everyone should know how to cook.

You’re really gonna call me out like that? Dude, you’re roasting me.

No, because everyone can learn how to cook. I’m not roasting you. I think everyone should learn how to cook because it’s something that so many people are like, “Uh, I can’t do it.” Yes, to be a professional Michelin star chef, it takes some natural talent. It does not take natural talent to cook; it takes cooking solidly for a year. You try and you fail at making a pot of rice five times – which I have probably done more times than that. It’s so much trial and error and it gets frustrating, but once you know how to do it, it’s so easy. It’s healthier and better for you. Cooking is so important. Everyone should know how to cook.

Ughhh, maybe one day. What does a typical day look like for you?

There’s no such thing as a typical day. Nothing too exciting. Audition day is crazy. I wake up at 5:15 in the morning. I am out of my house, still in my pajamas, at 5:20. I get straight onto the subway, sign-in in either in the sweltering heat or freezing cold, then I go back home. It’s now 6:30. I lay down for thirty minutes, then I get up, get dressed. I pack all of my stuff, I go back into the city. I hand in my resume. I sit there, and depending on what number I am on the list, I can be done as early as 11:30 or as late as 2:00, in which case I go straight to nannying. Then I nanny from 2 until around 8:30, because I put the boys to bed. I get home as late as 9:30 or 10. If my roommates are home, we’ll watch a movie. If I’m not auditioning, I might go rock-climbing in the morning or at night if my roommates have work. There isn’t really a typical day because things are constantly changing and we’re doing different stuff.

No matter what, you’re mindful of each day.

Yes. Like yesterday, I understand there was no purpose. I was doing nothing productive or exciting on Tuesday. But, that lights a fire to go, “Ok, gotta do something.” I strive to live every day with purpose. Do I? No. I fall short, but I don’t judge myself too harshly on that.

How do you handle that self-criticism?

I say that I don’t judge myself too harshly, but when people ask me, “Oh, you have so much time off. What are you doing with that time?” I automatically feel really self-conscious but then I realize like, I am happy. That’s the thing. I went to a party for my brother’s ex-girlfriend, who was a Harvard law graduate. One of the people was doing one year of med school, one year of law school, and most of the people are Harvard graduates. I remember talking to people around the room and it almost felt like they were trying to see who was better. The first question asked was, “What did you study?” I’d say, “Drama, education,” like the two easiest things. But walking around the room, I in no way felt like I was not as smart as these people. I am, but even more than that, I’m happier than literally everyone here. I can tell that just from having conversations with them and not seeing any genuine emotion. I realized, “I am happy.” So if I feel self-conscious about the fact that I woke up at 11:30 two days in a row, I might first think, “Wow, I’m the worst. I need to do something,” or if I think about how I stayed up watching a movie and talking with my roommates until 4 AM, I’m like, “Really, what was I doing?”

”But it was making me happy and if I’m living my life in pursuit of happiness, that’s that. I don’t need to answer to anyone. I have to tell myself that, even if I don’t believe it at the time. I know that I’m good with where I am. I’m happy with what I’m doing and proud of myself for doing everything that I do.”

I just smiled that whole time. You are incredible.

Aw, thanks.

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the quick fix:

I can’t go a day without… Kitty [her stuffed animal]. I can, but I don’t want to go a day without it. That’s embarrassing but I kind of love it.

Everyone should… watch Free Solo. It’s amazing.

Life is better with a little… sparkle.

Everyone in their 20’s should… live outside their comfort zone. I don’t mean the clichés; I mean live. Live somewhere that you might not feel comfortable, somewhere you have an inkling to live but you might not necessarily feel ready to do, because another thing with people in general is the idea of ready. No one’s ready; you just have to dive in and do it. Live somewhere you have some desire to go to, somewhere you want to see. But if not, then travel. It’s the next best thing.

One insider thing to do in New York City… go see drag at any gay bar. If you’re looking for a hidden gem, there’s a place called The Local in Long Island City. It’s one of the top-rated hostels New York. It’s super clean, super hip. It’s a bar, too, and the drinks are cheap. They have board games you can play, and a woman there makes these handmade pies that are delicious. Super cool. 10/10 recommend.

What the world needs right now is… education and compassion. They go hand in hand. I don’t mean education like knowing 2+2; be educated on trans rights, gay rights, gun violence, and statistics around the world. With education will come compassion and understanding, and the more educated we are, the better idea we have of our brothers and sisters in different countries.

One way to spread love… smiling. It sounds lame, but it goes a huge way. I see people of all different races, genders, and ages on the subway, and when I see someone who is homeless and peddling or begging, they say things like, “If you don’t have cash, you can pay me in a smile.” So many people just look away or don’t even acknowledge someone’s existence. I always look at them and smile because I think it’s the easiest form that everyone has to give. You never run out of smiles. It’s universally something everyone can do.