…Off The Grid Day. A movement to get off all social media, all technology in general, and spend some time outside with your family and friends. Revolving around social media and technology can distract us from the people who love and care about us and this beautiful world we have. Let’s be present with one another and our world!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Christina Hastings, an actress of stage and screen. In 2018, she began her acting career and has been cast in 24 productions. You may know her for her roles in ’Til Death Do Us Part, It’s Always Necessary, or her Series Regular role in the new series, Vice Squad. Alongside acting she is also a writer, producer, and photographer.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
This career path is nothing I would have ever planned or expected. I don’t come from a family of artists or performers. When high school came around, taking Drama was actually the cool thing to do, so I enrolled in the class. I got so involved in the theatre department that I would spend every day after school in the black box or auditorium continuously working on acting, simply because it brought me joy and a good group of friends. My senior class entered an acting competition where I went on to receive three awards. After the performance, a performer’s mom came up to me and said, “Have you ever thought about doing this as a career? You can do this for a career, you know.” After she said that, it all clicked. There has been nothing else I’ve wanted to do since.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
My friend had sent me this anonymous casting call she found off social media that took place about eight hours north of LA. She couldn’t make the casting, so she suggested I did. Being a little naive, I drove eight hours through the night and prepared everything for this casting call. Once I arrived to the casting the next morning, there was a line wrapped around the casting building with about eight-hundred people, waiting to be seen. They ended up liking me at the casting and called me back on set about a month later. It turned out to be a huge production. So I drove up eight hours through the night again and prepared all that I could. When I arrived on set, all the town locals heard of the filming in their town and there was an audience for us. Hundreds of people being held by security guards while we were filming. During a scene I had to walk by video village, and waiting for my cue, that’s where I’d end up hanging out. The talented and award-winning crew was very kind to me. They even invited me out to dinner with them. Seconds after the invitation, Meryl Streep walks on set…It was a dream for a beginning actor. You never know what the day will bring you.
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 moved to California., I saw this open casting call in Louisiana for a Tom Hanks movie with a company called “Central Casting”… I had no idea what this meant just that they are casting for a Tom Hanks movie in Louisiana. So, I did the reasonable thing… I flew to Louisiana. I thought this casting would be my start in the industry. I actually thought I’d be reading opposite Tom Hanks in the audition. I prepared some monologues, got some headshots printed, took off class, so on and so forth. I laid down money for the flight, hotel, and taxis to get around. I arrived to the casting call and they took my information, took my pictures, asked me some questions and that was it. After doing some research on Central Casting, I realized it was a background casting company. They were casting Louisiana locals as extras in this new and upcoming Tom Hanks movie. I had spent all my money just to wait in line and register as an extra in the state of Louisiana.
Make sure to always do research before arriving to a casting call or audition! I was naive, and excited, but I blew so much money.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am currently working on four different projects that are all so exciting. The most exciting would have to be Vice Squad. Vice Squad is a new TV series with Academy Award-winning directors, Best-selling authors, Gareth Cousins from Baby Driver, Suicide Squad, and Gravity, and Academy Award-winning cinematographers from Narcos, Lord of The Rings, and Magnum P.I.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I was on set with Reese Witherspoon. She is a sweetheart. She is exactly how you would think she’d be, so bubbly, friendly, and inviting. In-between takes she’d joke around with her castmates, once they were rolling she went right into character.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Work to be talented, don’t work to be famous.
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. 🙂
Off The Grid Day. A movement to get off all social media, all technology in general, and spend some time outside with your family and friends. Revolving around social media and technology can distract us from the people who love and care about us and this beautiful world we have. Let’s be present with one another and our world!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Don’t worry about social media too much.Social media is a great way to connect with others and update your friends and family on what you’re up to, but it’s not as important as beginning actors may think it is. As a starting actor, people will tell you that your social media is super important. Multiple teachers, instructors, “highly regarded” Casting Directors will tell you to stress the importance of your social media presence and you will get cast. They’ll even advise you to spend money to buy followers. Beginning actors fall for this because for once in their career, their followers are something they can have control over. I’ve been to auditions where they won’t allow you to audition unless you have over 20,000 followers… Stay away from those auditions. If you want to become an actor, work on your acting. If you want to become famous, work on your followers. If you care more about your social media presence than your talent… this is the wrong career for you.
- Don’t try to be a businesswoman.When I started acting, I heard the exact opposite. “You are the CEO of your career”. Don’t listen to that. We are not businesspeople, we are actors. There are certain people that will actually sell you on marketing. They will tell you how important it is, then ask you to pay $300 for their marketing class, or consult. They advise actors to create their own ads with their company, hire a publicist from them, and make sure to take their marketing classes. People fall for it every time. The most important thing is talent. These people are feeding you lies. Save your money.
- You don’t have to move to LA to become an actor. When I first started acting, I read a ton of books giving advice. Almost every one was published in around 1990–2006. As we know, so much has changed since then. Every single book said that if you want to be a film actor, you must move to LA. Which for the beginning, non-union actor, this isn’t true. The first thing I did was move out to LA with no money in my pocket; I had to live in a 5-bedroom house with 40 people. All but two of my auditions were on self-tape, and I only did two shoots that actually took place in LA. While LA is a great town to connect with creative people, it doesn’t make sense if you’re a starting and poor actor. Everything is incredibly expensive, it is an incredibly saturated market, meaning, it is super difficult to be seen. There is simply not enough good non-union work. If you do book work, it’s most likely unpaid or they’ll just pay for your gas. I had to move back home, but once I did, my career flourished. I am able to audition for the same things I was in LA due to self-taping. If I book something, they’ll fly me out to shoot. Once you are union and have good experience, that’s the best time to hit the big markets, don’t run to the big ponds when you’re still a small fish.
- Learn your value as an actor. As actors, we constantly feel as if we’ve been given an opportunity and we are always walking a thin line. If we do something wrong, if we say no to something, they’ll replace us and we’ll be out of a job. While this can be true, if you are unhappy with the way something is going, with the way you are being treated, or the small amount you’re being paid, then leave. Your happiness and well-being is so much more important than that job. If you don’t have an agent, understand how contracts work and how you should be paid. Understand the talent you have and what you can bring to the table. Negotiate. If they don’t provide a contract, write one up and make them sign. Always make sure you are being paid to travel, you are being paid overtime, and you are being paid enough to afford your rent and put food in your stomach, according to the production’s budget. Learn your value, stay true to your morals, and only do jobs that you’ll feel good doing. You don’t need to take everything that comes your way.
- Don’t be scared. Film sets are a fun place to be. Remain professional but always make sure to be comfortable. You were chosen to be there. In the beginning of my career, I took each step so seriously, I was so careful. Being bold, choosing to make mistakes, and bending some rules, has given me so much opportunity.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Life is short.” Everyone hears this, but it is so so true. Opportunities don’t knock twice, if you want something you have to go make it happen. Without this quote, I wouldn’t have left school to be an actress.
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 am very grateful towards my high school drama teacher. He put so much faith in me and showed me guidance. He taught us Shakespeare, Lorraine Hansberry, Pinter, and so much more. He had us reading plays and musicals on our free time. He taught us so much about the art of theatre… he encouraged us to do improv, to dance, to direct, to write, to sing. He cast me as my first ever lead role where I had over 400 lines. I was filled with encouragement every rehearsal and he was the one who told me to “follow your instincts”. Which is so, so important. Not only was he a great acting teacher, but he’d stress the importance of being a good person. Without him, I would’ve never had this interest in and love for acting as I do now. He put so much faith in me and helped me to shine. He taught me to believe in myself.
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. 🙂
Margot Robbie, Timothee Chalamet, or Chris Pratt. They are so incredibly talented and appear like wonderful people.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@christina_hastings on Instagram!
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!