There are more opportunities than you know! Entering the entertainment business without any idea as to what I was getting myself into was quite the journey. It still is. Thankfully, I have learned over time that there are far more opportunities and pathways than I could have ever imagined. It can still be a very demanding and competitive industry, but there are more jobs, projects, and opportunities available. Being open to different possibilities is a great way to find opportunities and unimaginable passions. The concept that you can pursue one main dream while encountering many unexpected twists and turns along the way is really true. I’m learning the importance of being specific on who I am, what I do, and what my personal “brand” is. The trick is to open as many doors as you can and be prepared for the ones that open and are just right for you.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Hamilton. Sarah is an American actress, writer, and filmmaker. In 2015, she moved from Upstate New York to Los Angeles to attend college at Loyola Marymount University as a film and television production major. Since then, she has written/directed/produced multiple short films, web series, and began her professional acting career through various film, television, web, and theatrical projects. She has two young adult fiction novels and an upcoming photography book in the works. With her optimism, education, training, and life experiences, she actively hustles to make dreams come true.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you so much for having me! I have always been a storyteller at heart. Growing up, I loved stories so much that I wrote up many of my own. On my eighth birthday, I received a camera and found the beautiful movie option. With my budding passions for creative writing, acting, and filmmaking, I found the magic of bringing stories to life and sharing them with others. As the years continued, I continued to write, film, and act as much as possible. This led to creating several short film and commercial projects throughout high school and applying to film schools while writing my first young adult fiction novel, The Enchantress (a Royalty Status novel).
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Every single day brings interesting stories! I often wonder, “what is my life and how did I get here?” The real lesson learned is that anything can change at any moment and anything is possible! Something that has really stood out over the last several years has been my connection to the abc television series, Once Upon a Time. I had watched the show and been creatively inspired by it all throughout high school. Through collegel, L.A. events, and even a spotting at LAX, I have been able to meet many cast and crew members from the show, including the creators, Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis, during the musical episode screening on the Disney lot! In high school, the show inspired me with storytelling through writing, acting, and filmmaking. Those passions got me to L.A., where I got to then meet those involved and hear their stories. It’s a full-circle moment of my life that still inspires me to this day!
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?
I see every mistake as a learning experience. A recent learning moment in particular was during pre-production for the web series, L.A. Mermaids, this past summer. I didn’t realize how much the show would actually take off. So, I planned everything in a relatively rushed way. The first two and a half episodes were written and filmed over a couple days in June. The rest of the episodes were written and both sponsored companies sent tails and props for the show. I had gone back to New York for a bit and when I got back and started scheduling the remainder three episodes, schedules changed that gave next to no time to film before school started back up again. This led to lots of rewrites and scheduling chaos that made the rest of filming seem like a near impossible endeavour. As the director, I felt this pressure to upkeep a facade that “everything was fine” when in reality, I wasn’t sure how to get the show back on the road! In retrospect, there are absolutely no regrets from the process because not only did it come together, but I had such an amazing time and learned so much. I’m incredibly glad that everything worked out in the best of ways. This show was definitely meant to be! Going forward though, I have definitely learned the importance of taking my projects and work more seriously from the start. The importance of pre-production is major and I plan on planning things out more before “fixing it in post”!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now, I am finalizing another novel, about to release a photography book, and working on the second season of my original web series, L.A. Mermaids! The first season went quite swimmingly and I am very excited to be in the works of a second to dive more into the characters and backstory.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I have been incredibly fortunate to have interacted with many interesting people! Especially with being a part of the entertainment business, the abundance of amazing stories and personalities I encounter on a regular basis is amazing. Some of the most interesting experiences has certainly been on red carpets filming interviews. At first, I felt that I was starstruck with being around so many celebrities, but then I realized that I was more amazed by the sheer question, “how did I get to be here?” Over time, it’s become quite clear that everybody (no matter how famous they may be) are just people doing cool things and living their lives. I met Ariana Grande once at a Whole Foods. It was a totally casual moment. I took a photo just for the sake of, “well, this is cool” and we chatted a bit. She was super nice! Once the photo was posted on social media, it got a lot of shocked responses and freak-outs, especially from those out of state. I have definitely adjusted to the casual nature of L.A. where everyone is seemingly highly accomplished and we’re all pretty chill about it.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
The Entertainment Industry is a very strange — yet — beautiful place to be! It’s very demanding, requiring a ton of self-confidence and dedication. Burning out is too easy! My best advice is to remember to walk and reflect (I love great music and long walks to help with this!), open as many doors as possible but don’t get too attached to any of them, and remember what brought you here in the first place. Taking time to create and pursue your dreams, step by step, every single day is very encouraging. Smile, surround yourself with uplifting people, and enjoy the process! Learn as much as you can, network, and be present.
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 have always aspired to inspire others to follow their dreams, unapologetically, no matter what! It’s so easy to get caught up with the ideas that we have to be older, smarter, more connected, richer, etcetera, to get what we want. These are just fears that ultimately hold us back from taking chances. I greatly believe that if you have a dream, you should go after that dream, pushing all of those fears and societal expectations and stereotypes out of the way. We are the authors of our own stories. We have the power to make anything that we want happen. It all takes belief, dedication, and confidence. Spreading this message as a movement is a goal in itself.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- You are the author of your own life story! It is way too easy to get caught up in the suggestions that everybody else puts on us. There’s plenty of societal ideals on how we should be and what we should do. Yet, those are merely just that: suggestions. We hold the power to decide for ourselves what choices are best for us. We can create the lives we want and the only ones in control of who we are and what we do is ourselves. I am a great believer in the power of optimism, positive thinking, and manifestation.
- There are more opportunities than you know! Entering the entertainment business without any idea as to what I was getting myself into was quite the journey. It still is. Thankfully, I have learned over time that there are far more opportunities and pathways than I could have ever imagined. It can still be a very demanding and competitive industry, but there are more jobs, projects, and opportunities available. Being open to different possibilities is a great way to find opportunities and unimaginable passions. The concept that you can pursue one main dream while encountering many unexpected twists and turns along the way is really true. I’m learning the importance of being specific on who I am, what I do, and what my personal “brand” is. The trick is to open as many doors as you can and be prepared for the ones that open and are just right for you.
- You CAN do it all! A year or two, I was regularly asked about what my main focus was. When I listed writing, filmmaking, and acting, the common response was for me to just pick one. Yes, having a singular main focus may lead to more attention towards it and faster progress, but sacrificing passions was never a real option for me. I felt as if having too many focuses made me a failure at all of them, but then my perception changed. As it turns out, having multiple passions can be a great thing, especially if there are ways to combine them! As someone who never fit into any societal “boxes” and felt like an outsider to everything, I have learned to appreciate my uniqueness and individualism. Time management, dedication, and self-confidence are the keys to making everything and anything happen. You really can do it all! Maybe not all at the same time, but you can!
- Authentic personality is everything! It’s easy to get caught up in these ideals that you have to be something that you’re not to “fit in” and succeed. There was an era where I really didn’t know who I was and I felt that I had to box myself into dressing and making myself up to fit the trendy L.A. look. I started acting more fake and pushing a bubbliness, especially online within my YouTube vlogs. All this did was leave an empty sense of loneliness. Putting away the facade and realizing that being your best self, authentically, is the best way to be! I’m glad to say that I not only am my authentic self, but I have gained great insight and confidence with finding who I really am.
- Trust your gut… it always knows! Thankfully, I was told this a lot beforehand, but it is certainly something I have found greater appreciation for as time as progressed! The more you trust your gut, the more it reveals itself to you. There are plenty of signs around us that distinguish where we are on our life path. Recognizing these signs and making choices that are right in person, and not just on paper or in idea, is incredibly vital! I’ve had moments where there were opportunities presented but just didn’t seem quite right. It seemed like I should have taken the opportunities because they were societally “right”, but my gut strongly suggested otherwise for outside (and sometimes, unknown) reasons. Since then, I have realized those were moments of strength from choosing the more difficult path. I have gained far more insight and opportunities from staying true to myself and trusting my gut.
- Figure out what you want! This past school year has been an ongoing questioning of what I specifically want. I thought I knew, but as it turns out, I really didn’t. I was lost and in complete denial. That being said, you don’t have to know what you want and growing up is a really all about learning. What you want may change. In fact, it may even appear one way but really be another! I suggest thinking about what you want generally and then specifically. Make sure that it’s what YOU want for YOU, rather than what others want from and/or for you. Once you figure it out, decide what you are willing to do to get what you want and what it may actually take. Finding this and knowing your self worth is so important!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you will land among the stars!”
There has been plenty of mixed ideas on this quote that I have heard over the years, but it was always a quote that stood out to me. My interpretation of this quote is that we should go for our wildest dreams, but enjoy the twists, turns, and little surprising moments along the way. I first met this quote as it was on a poster in the sixth grade science classroom. Since then, I have always gone out of my way to strive for even the craziest dreams. Yet in the process of reaching for them, I have had plenty of twists, turns, and little surprising moments that I have learned to appreciate. Enjoying the process is so very important!
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 so very grateful for so many people within my life, but I have to mention my family! Always being a family-oriented soul, I cannot begin to describe just how thankful, grateful, and straight up appreciative I am of my family! They have inspired, encouraged, and motivated me all the way throughout my life. Their support and love continues to inspire me and my creative dreams every single day!
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. 🙂
It would be absolutely incredible if this article got read by the creators and showrunners of Once Upon a Time and/or Pretty Little Liars! Both of those shows incredibly inspired and shaped me creatively. As a graduating college senior, i’m presently looking for opportunities to grow and make more dreams come true. If this article gets to anybody within the entertainment realm that could help make that possible, that would be amazing!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I’m @sarahfhamilton for pretty much everything!
- (L.A. Mermaids original web series) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVYm3Vof6ownreVqSzjiZtA
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!