“Self-esteem is something that I’ve had to work on for such a long time, especially as someone who battled an eating disorder when I was younger. Growing up knowing that I wanted to be in show biz, I often watched or read a lot of tabloid news and magazines. Weight and diet were subjects that were addressed frequently, and I would be exposed to constant all-or-nothing statements such as “cut out carbs,” written articles on unrealistic celebrity diets, or blurbs that would praise celebrities for losing weight (even if they were already at a healthy body weight). It took me a trip to the doctor’s office and a near-hospitalization to process that all of these statements — which were really misconceptions — regarding food and body image had led me to the point of misery… and near-death. If I can utilize my status for a cause, it would be to start a movement that would prohibit tabloid shows or magazines from posting stories or columns regarding diet and weight/body image. I would also want to launch a movement that would encourage parents of teenage girls to incorporate self-confidence methods into their daily lives. I want to motivate parents to ultimately be more concerned about their daughters’ health and happiness rather than to be focused on whether or not their child is a size two.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Jarman, an actress and writer who caught the acting bug at the tender age of five years old. A former student of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, Jarman has finally made the move to Los Angeles to follow her dreams after battling years of self-doubt. Her father is Academy-Award winning actor Claude Jarman Jr., but Jarman hopes to pave her way in Tinseltown on her own as both a performer and a writer.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I knew that I wanted to be a performer when I was four years old, after my parents took me to my first performance of The Nutcracker. I was bewitched by the elegance of the dancers, and I knew that I wanted to mesmerize an audience the way the dancers mesmerized me. So my mom signed me up for ballet lessons, and…all we did was stretch when I wanted to leap (which was understandable, considering that the class was aimed at children in preschool). As a child, I got bored very easily, so I can see why ballet didn’t work out. But then I started watching children’s live-action television shows and films, and always thought to myself “Hey, that seems kind of fun.” My mom took me to my first acting class when I was five years old and I was hooked. I immediately knew that this is what I wanted to do. I have no idea if my dad literally passed down an Acting Gene, but I’m really glad I grew up with parents who supported my passion.
All throughout elementary, middle, and high school, my classmates and friends (and even teachers) deemed me as “the actress” because I was one of the few kids who attended acting classes/workshops, did plays, and seemed at ease speaking in front of people. I definitely knew that acting was a profession that I still wanted to potentially pursue, but when I was preparing to go to college, someone heavily criticized my appearance (making comments such as “you need to get those blackheads out of your nose” and going so far as to critique my smile and fashion sense) that I basically thought, “Welp, you’re clearly not attractive enough to be in this business, so why bother?” So I took a hiatus from acting for about two years, and I was miserable. The flame inside me had gone out. But when I finally started auditioning for plays and short films at UC Santa Barbara (my alma mater) my junior year of college, I felt alive again. Even better, my friends were incredibly supportive and always encouraged me to pursue acting post-graduation. It helped boost my confidence so much that I finally realized that the business of acting is about conveying truth to and moving an audience — not about being glamorous or looking like a supermodel 24/7. After college graduation, I studied acting at ACT in San Francisco; I learned so much from that school and was so inspired by my peers and teachers that I finally realized that being an actor is the profession that I want to have. I worked as a waitress in my hometown in Marin County for about a year to earn money to move out, and I finally moved to Los Angeles earlier this year.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Since moving to Los Angeles, my life has become so unpredictable. One of the most peculiar LA stories occurred inside of the Westwood Target; I was looking for products to buy when a man walked past me while looking directly in my eyes. I thought it was weird at first, but then the man came up to me and asked me if I was an actor; I replied yes, and the man informed me that he was casting a film and that he and the director wanted to see if I’d want to be in their film. I was then introduced to the director and we exchanged information. I’m not sure if the film went into production since I was never informed of anything, but I thought it was interesting that I was offered a part in a film right off the bat.
One of the hardest things that ever happened to me occurred last year, when I auditioned multiple times for a project and was cast as one of the leads. After weeks of preparation, I got a call from the show’s producer saying that their original choice for the role’s schedule had opened up, and that because I hadn’t signed any binding contracts, I was no longer set to play the role. I was crushed. It felt like my heart had literally been ripped out of my chest. Luckily, my friends kept encouraging me to keep pursuing my dream after I wanted to throw the towel in, and the show never actually went into production after numerous issues.
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?
When I first started auditioning, I was always so keen on getting my lines down that I would disregard basic necessities — such as making sure the full script is printed out. I once went in for an audition and was actually doing pretty well, when there was a blatant empty pause after my reader had spoken. I then realized that I was supposed to speak at that moment, but that I hadn’t printed the full sides out. It was awkward to say the least, but the CD was nice enough to let me start over with the full sides. So, I learned to always double check that my sides have fully printed out, and also to stop focusing so much on mesmerizing lines as opposed to being in the moment in a scene.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Within the past three months, I’ve worked on the HBO show “Insecure,” a number of short films, and a feature film directed by Olivia Wilde. I’ve also auditioned for a number of notable television shows. I’m currently writing two short films, one comedic and one dramatic, and one feature length film, and I plan on acting in and possibly directing all of the films I write.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I’ve worked on Hollywood Game Night with Jane Lynch, and she’s one of the warmest and friendliest people that I’ve met. She really cares about everyone in the cast and crew (not just the big names) and has a very playful attitude that makes being on set a joy. The same goes for Jon Bernthal, who loves to interact with actors and even extras, giving advice along the way. Olivia Wilde is a fabulous director; she is incredibly relaxed and maintains a humorous air about her, but is still able to effortlessly command a set of 300+ people. I aspire to be a director like her. Darren Criss and Timothee Chalamet are sweethearts. I’ve gotten hugs from both of them. I’ve been surrounded by so many actors that I now keep a list of them on my iPhone!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
It’s always discouraging when you don’t get a callback or don’t go on auditions for weeks, but I always tell my colleagues (and sometimes myself) that everything happens for a reason, and that maybe the reason why you didn’t get a part is either because of something you can’t control or because you are destined for another, even better role down the road. During the dry spells, I encourage actors to utilize this free time to really study the craft of acting or to even create their own content. You never know who might watch it…
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. 🙂
Self-esteem is something that I’ve had to work on for such a long time, especially as someone who battled an eating disorder when I was younger. Growing up knowing that I wanted to be in show biz, I often watched or read a lot of tabloid news and magazines. Weight and diet were subjects that were addressed frequently, and I would be exposed to constant all-or-nothing statements such as “cut out carbs,” written articles on unrealistic celebrity diets, or blurbs that would praise celebrities for losing weight (even if they were already at a healthy body weight). It took me a trip to the doctor’s office and a near-hospitalization to process that all of these statements — which were really misconceptions — regarding food and body image had led me to the point of misery… and near-death. If I can utilize my status for a cause, it would be to start a movement that would prohibit tabloid shows or magazines from posting stories or columns regarding diet and weight/body image. I would also want to launch a movement that would encourage parents of teenage girls to incorporate self-confidence methods into their daily lives. I want to motivate parents to ultimately be more concerned about their daughters’ health and happiness rather than to be focused on whether or not their child is a size two.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Don’t take rejection personally. There are literally SO many reasons why you don’t book a role; it can do with your hair color, your voice, your height, or even if you resemble someone that a CD doesn’t like. Just because you don’t book something does not mean that you are a bad actor or that your career is finished.
2. Don’t compare, it isn’t fair. There have been instances when I’m in the waiting room and I glance at the other girls auditioning for the same part, and I think “Look at these gorgeous girls. What the heck am I doing here?” It’s gotten to the point where I’ve nearly gotten up and left the room. But the truth is that you have NO IDEA what the CD’s are looking for, so stop comparing yourself and embrace the fact that you got offered to audition.
3. Make friends with other actors. Yes, acting is a competitive profession to be in, but there’s no need to be mean to others in your field. It’s just straight-up rude. Everyone is in the same boat, so making friends with people who share your passion is actually a pretty awesome thing to do. Who knows, maybe you and your other actor BFF may become the next Ben & Matt or Nicole & Naomi….
4. Create your own work. If you’re waiting on getting that one role that you know you’re perfect for, why not create it yourself? Get your friends together, write a script, rent equipment, and shoot, and you potentially have an incredible showcase of your talent right at your fingertips.
5. Study, study, study. The people winning Oscars and Emmys are the ones who have studied their craft and take it seriously. I now devote at least 30 minutes every day to studying the craft of acting, whether it be an in-person acting class, a book on acting, or a YouTube video.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“A real loser is someone who’s so afraid of not winning he doesn’t even try” from “Little Miss Sunshine.” When my self esteem was at its lowest, I was still considering the possibility of acting as a profession, but was so concerned with the fact that I couldn’t make it due to my poor ability and looks that I didn’t try to audition for anything. But after I re-experimented with acting in college, I came to realize that it’s so much better to try and fail miserably at something than to constantly wonder 10–15 years in the future what could’ve happened if I had just tried the damn thing.
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?
I have so many people in my life that I know are partially responsible for how I ended up in LA, but the people I have to thank the most include:
-Producer Bill MacDonald for giving me insight into the business from a producer’s POV.
-My co-worker and friend Tiffany Glass, who has given me many pointers regarding how to move up as an actor in the business and for sharing her hilarious entertainment biz stories with me .
-My acting teachers — specifically the ACT faculty and coaches Clay Banks and Peter Frisch — for molding me into the best actor that I can be and for believing in me.
-My friends and family (Mom, Dad, & Charlotte) for attending my shows and acting as my cheerleaders since Day 1. There’s no way I would’ve had the guts to do this without your unwavering support.
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. 🙂
If I could have a private meal with a woman, it would hands-down be Angelina Jolie. My friends who have worked with her say she’s so warm and sweet, but she has such a fascinating life story. She’s a master at her craft (she didn’t win an Oscar at 24 for nothing) and I’m dying to learn about her acting technique, but I’d love to discuss how she’s able to stay so grounded while balancing her role as a mother, actor, director, and humanitarian.
If I could have a private meal with a man, it would definitely be Jake Gyllenhaal. Seriously, how was this guy only had a single Oscar nomination?! He is, in my opinion, the best and most underrated actor of his generation; he is a true chameleon capable of slipping effortlessly into a variety of roles (I’m looking at you, “Nightcrawler”). But he’s also an incredibly fun-loving and humble guy — his bromance with Ryan Reynolds only justifies how awesome Jake is. I’m the kind of girl with a lot of guy friends, so I’d love to discuss his craft and his future projects over pizza.
Both Jake and Angie are children that have show biz parents, but they’ve remained so level-headed and professional both on and offscreen. I admire their maturity and devotion to their craft and profession.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Feel free to follow my Instagram handle @sarjarbinx17. Sar-Jar (a play on “Jar-Jar Binks” from Star Wars) was my nickname growing up, so I thought I’d incorporate that into my profile. Feel free to follow me, I promise I don’t bite.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!
Thank you so much for having me! I’m honored, and would love to be back soon.
Originally published at medium.com