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Rising Star Caridad Cole: “Everyone has the ability to rewire their minds, to start to think differently and more positively; All it takes is speaking these truths”

I would immediately implement mandatory morning affirmations. Words have power, of course, but there’s much more to it than that. Your words can change everything about you and your situation. Everyone has the ability to rewire their minds, to start to think differently and more positively. All it takes is speaking these truths. Even if […]



I would immediately implement mandatory morning affirmations. Words have power, of course, but there’s much more to it than that. Your words can change everything about you and your situation. Everyone has the ability to rewire their minds, to start to think differently and more positively. All it takes is speaking these truths. Even if you don’t personally believe in things like “biohacking,” it still works. That’s the thing about affirmations. Even if you are feeling down in the dumps and completely hopeless, starting your day with phrases like “today I feel powerful,” “today I am one step closer to my dreams,” and “things are not happening to me, they are happening for me,” your brain will begin to believe it. Most people are also not clear on their intentions and goals, which halts progress. If we all said to ourselves everyday exactly what we wanted and how we wanted to feel, we would see those changes happening naturally, instead of living in ruts like many people do. Mantras are the movement.


As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Caridad Cole. Caridad is foremost a content creator and an avid enthusiast of the strange and surreal. She likes to make dream-like sequences a reality. Writing, acting, directing, shooting, editing — Caridad can and would love to do it all.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It’s kind of a crazy story, but don’t worry — the hero made it out in the end. So about 2 years ago, during the summer, I was living in Los Angeles. I had just graduated undergrad with a film degree under my belt. I was ready to jump into “the biz.” I woke up almost every day at 5AM to head to set, and worked those 10+ hour 100+ degree days with a smile on my face. I really loved it. But meanwhile back at my Hollywood apartment, there was a tenant who was constantly leaving the front door open behind them. Our landlord had sent emails warning us all about this, but it continued to happen. And then one day, a stray cat wandered into the building. Fast forward a few days, and the fleas that this cat brought with it could not be ignored. If you’ve ever had a flea problem, you know how quickly it becomes a full-blown infestation. The entire apartment building was swarmed, but still no one would fess up to having let the cat in. Trying to deal with the infestation was a nightmare on its own, but on top of that, I happen to be the kind of person who has allergic reactions to almost everything. Simple mosquito bites become unsightly, a bee sting means hospital time, and having over 100 flea bites on my body was paralyzing. Literally paralyzing. All I knew about fleas was that they carry disease and they need a host. I was the host, and slowly my body was stiffening. I had numerous blood tests and was prescribed medications I’ll never be able to pronounce. I was unable to go to work, unable to step outside in the sun, unable to really eat or sleep. It’s somewhat of a blur in my memory now, but all of this meant I could not stay in Los Angeles. I had to fly home to my family on the east coast to continue treatments and healing under their care. And once I regained full consciousness, I realized that I didn’t miss my time working film production. I was scared about what had just happened to me, and all I wanted to do was start over from my childhood dreams, in front of the camera not behind it. I still have some scars but I also have clarity.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

When I first moved to NYC, my agency sent me on a lot of Broadway auditions because I have a musical theater background. I went to each one with a sense of wonderment, and I always felt like I was doing really well. However, something I had never thought about, is that you can’t actually be cast in a principal role on Broadway if you are not an Equity actor, and I am not. So basically, I was going to these auditions for naught. (It was still bucket-list worthy though.) Auditions are often taped, and I found out that these tapes can be viewed by all kinds of people in the theater world, including other actors. One night I was seeing a Broadway musical, sitting in the front row, and as the cast was taking their bows, some of them started gesturing to me. I thought I was imagining it, as we often think people we admire on stage are looking straight into our eyes, but they were actually waving to me! On my way out, I was redirected to the backstage area, where some of the actors told me that they had seen one of my audition tapes and thought it was fantastic. They wondered if I was currently in any stage productions. I couldn’t believe it.

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?

Actually, I think the story I just told is the funniest mistake I’ve made, though I wouldn’t necessarily call it a mistake. You should always ask your agent or the casting director any little detail questions you can think of before the audition. No one wants their time wasted. But the real lesson I learned from that wasn’t about those technicalities of the business, but rather to keep doing what I was doing — I rarely turn down an audition, even if it seems like something that won’t happen, because you never know who might see you! Networking can make a world of difference, in any field. Though I wasn’t able to book that specific Broadway production, the actors who liked my work were then talking about me to other directors and producers who could use non-Equity actors. You never know!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m currently in pre-production for a horror feature that primarily takes place underneath NYC, in the subway tunnels. I love the concept of it so much. It feels like my favorite childhood movies, the ones that invoke nostalgia for something you’ve never experienced, à la Stranger Things. I think every actor should do a movie like this early on in their career, so they can know how much fun the process can be. Who doesn’t want to scream at the top of their lungs? And on a completely different note, I’ve recently been getting into lifestyle modeling. It’s very different than the beauty modeling I’m used to. I can dress myself, bring my own personality to the shoots, and I think it strengthens my acting abilities by requiring me to find the character that the brand wants to present, within myself. It’s me, plus a little extra.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

One guy. So many stories. Right after recovering from the flea-mergency, I was connected with a director who would become an enigmatic force in my early career. His name is Peng Zhang Li, and you may have heard of him! He’s starred in many incredible martial arts movies and is a kung-fu master. Not only that, but he’s an actual Shaolin monk. His backstory is both mysterious and overflowing with events. In fact, he reminds me a lot of Tommy Wiseau, who I’ve met on many occasions as well. When I first met Li, I was instructed to meet him at his studio, which turned out to be a small apartment in northern New Jersey. The entire cast and crew were crammed in the space, and Li was all business. He was such an unassuming man, wearing cargo pants and a black hoodie, a B-roll camera hanging from his neck. He only really spoke to his assistant director and the make-up artist. I asked the other actors how they met him, and most could only shrug — either they didn’t remember or they hadn’t even really met him yet. When that first day of shooting was done, Li finally switched into social mode and properly introduced himself. In less than ten minutes, he name-dropped studios, actors, directors, and all of the incredible experiences he had had in his life that lead to, what he called, “finally making the movies he wanted to make.” He was inspiring. A true cinephile. But to this day, I don’t know if he lives in that apartment or not. There was no bed and never any food in the fridge.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Number one, consistency is key. Make the advancement of your career your daily work, because it’s no one else’s but your own. If you want to get to “the top” you can’t sit down at the bottom. Plus, the old adage says you only book one out of every hundred auditions you go on… so go on all of the auditions! If you’re unrepresented and submitting yourself for auditions, send in 5 or 10 submissions a day. Do it while you eat breakfast, and then you can go about the rest of the day knowing that you’re actively working towards your goals. This is an especially helpful habit if you have a day job (rent is high!) and feel burned out by the end of the work day. Do your personal work before you go to work. Passions first, necessity second. Number two, if you do find yourself feeling burned out, take a break! If entertainment is your real passion, you will naturally return to it when the time is right, like I did. This is one of the most difficult jobs to break into and to maintain. It can take a lot out of you, but you can’t lose yourself. No one will recognize your talent if you can’t even recognize yourself.

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 would immediately implement mandatory morning affirmations. Words have power, of course, but there’s much more to it than that. Your words can change everything about you and your situation. Everyone has the ability to rewire their minds, to start to think differently and more positively. All it takes is speaking these truths. Even if you don’t personally believe in things like “biohacking,” it still works. That’s the thing about affirmations. Even if you are feeling down in the dumps and completely hopeless, starting your day with phrases like “today I feel powerful,” “today I am one step closer to my dreams,” and “things are not happening to me, they are happening for me,” your brain will begin to believe it. Most people are also not clear on their intentions and goals, which halts progress. If we all said to ourselves everyday exactly what we wanted and how we wanted to feel, we would see those changes happening naturally, instead of living in ruts like many people do. Mantras are the movement.

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. Be your own agent! I figured this out pretty quickly, but it is something I always tell other actors too. If you’re not satisfied with how you’re currently being represented, represent yourself. Only you know what kinds of roles you’d be amazing in. And of course, the performance comes across exponentially more believable and natural if you’re really enjoying being that character.
  2. Don’t try to fill the mold of someone else. For a long time, I’ve been compared to another actress, one who is already extremely successful and famous. This would be a compliment except that it also means that casting directors often want me to act like this other woman, give off her vibe. Looking alike does not equal having the same personality, though. For a while, I tried to embody her spirit, but it just left me feeling fake and unfulfilled, and like no one was casting me for me. No one would know what I could bring to the set if I was essentially imitating someone else. So, I stopped, and you know what? They still want me.
  3. Be a trailblazer! This goes along with the previous thing I wish someone had told me. Never be afraid to show up to an audition looking and acting completely differently than all the other hopefuls in the room. Stand out! Stand up! Be you. Trust me, casting directors want to discover someone new.
  4. Memorize one incredible monologue and don’t worry so much about memorizing those 5-page sides for your 10AM audition tomorrow. I have been in so many audition rooms where the casting director immediately asks me to tell a personal story or summarize my week or read just the first few lines of the sides for the camera. They really want to see how you speak and act naturally. How your personality would filter through a character. There have also been one or two times that I simply ran out of time to memorize sides and was able to perform a monologue instead. Choose one that’s unexpected, like a traditionally male monologue. Your confidence will overshadow the disregarded sides.
  5. I wish someone had told me that the representation of brown women in theater is primarily of brown women suffering. This is a harsh truth, but it is what it is. Theater is, well, dramatic, and what’s more dramatic to the target audience of 21st century theater than slaves, prostitutes, and domestic violence? We haven’t really seen a story on stage yet of just a normal girl doing normal things who happens to have brown skin. I did audition for a principal role on Broadway that had previously been a white character, though, so there is hope!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

When I was a child, my parents would repeat to me the saying “petit à petit l’oiseau fait son nid,” which translates to “little by little the bird builds its nest.” I have 3 older siblings, and I think my parents always found a way to slip this phrase into the solution of any of our problems, so much so that I once came very close to getting it tattooed. I consider it an important life lesson because it’s so true! Everything takes time and patience. A nest takes a long time to build for small a bird, but if it didn’t persist, it wouldn’t have a home. The effort is always worth it, even if you can’t see why in the moment. There was a time in my life when I was particularly quite unhappy, and I would always remind myself of this bird. All I had to do to come out the other end, was to keep going. Even now, pursuing this challenging career, I am still building my nest.

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’m going to be a bit cliché and lump both of my parents into one person here; I am incredibly grateful for both of them! Not only did they give me the unconditional support I needed during the hard time of switching careers (which I know is, unfortunately, not always unconditional in all families), but they also showed me the way. They are both renowned artists in their respective fields, and always spoke candidly to my siblings and I about what it took to get there. They were honest about the struggles, the intensely needed sense of self, the never-ending proactiveness, the acceptance of failures as part of the process but never the end of it. I can always look to them for the answers I need. Even to this day, my dad always jumps behind the camera for me when I need a reader. My mom runs lines with me. They’re both always there.

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. 🙂

Oh, there are so many wonderful people I’d love to meet. Choosing one is hard… but I think for now I will choose Jordan Peele, who is someone I’ve actually already met. When I was in college and working toward a career in film production, I was connected with him. This was before he began his impressive directing career, and we were just two prospective director/screenwriters. I remember that he had just had the idea for Get Out and described it to me with so much enthusiasm that I knew it would be great (and it was!). He was someone worthy of great admiration then and ever more so now! I would love to meet him again, as an actor, not only because I want to be in his movies of course, but because of the types of stories that he’s telling. As someone who has always been a huge sci-fi/horror fan myself, I find it so remarkable that he’s telling these stories centered around modern black families. He’s truly a pioneer in his field. Back then we talked about just how rare that representation really was, and we both had a passion for breaking up the status quo.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@astrocari everywhere you can think of, but I’m most active on Instagram. If you’re a lover of books and movies like me, follow me on Goodreads and Letterboxd too!

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

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