I wish someone had told me networking is key. I’m outgoing, but I don’t love talking about my accomplishments. Over time, I’ve learned that networking can be natural to anyone, you just have to learn how you do it best. Networking needs to be and feel natural or else it comes off as fake. For me the most natural way to network is to relax and be myself…and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that probably works well for most people. Touting my resume doesn’t come naturally to me, but being a fun/inquisitive/quirky human does. I keep notes on the people I meet and reach out when it feels right and makes sense. Networking doesn’t just happen at networking events it happens onset, at auditions, in the grocery store, anywhere…so it’s always wise to be kind and be yourself.
As a part of our interview series with the rising stars in pop culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Samantha Turret.
Samantha Turret is an NJ/NYC transplant who found her way to sunny Los Angeles. She is an actress, voice actor and teacher best known for co-hosting Nickelodeon’s TOP ELF alongside the one and only Santa Claus. She’s also had the pleasure to work on shows seen on MTV, A&E, Discovery and Lifetime. Her voice can be heard on multiple Audible audiobooks, two currently airing radio spots, and on a number of podcasts.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was 5 I saw my older brother in a community theatre production of Oliver. He played Unnamed Pickpocket #7 and was virtually unrecognizable in the show, but while I watched I was completely in awe. Immediately after and for the next 2 years, I could be found constantly singing songs and acting out scenes from Oliver. As soon as I was old enough I started auditioning for anything I could convince my parents to take me to.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I went to an audition for what I thought was a PSA for postpartum. When I got there I did my audition and it went pretty well. Afterwards they asked me some totally normal questions….and then they asked me to donate my eggs. To which I said no…then they asked again. Like they really tried to hard sell me into donating my eggs. I don’t think there was even a real PSA being made. Silver-lining: they gave me some freebies that say “Donate Your Eggs” on the side…so that’s cool.
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 once went to an audition for “Children’s Show Host”. Which I thought was absolutely perfect — I love working on anything for kids, love hosting, blah blah blah. I went dressed like a goofy kid’s host: polka dot shirt, fun heeled boots, nice dark jeans…you get the idea. I got there, signed in and within minutes they put a numbered sticker on my shirt and I was ushered into a big room filled with dancers in leotards. Suddenly I was front and center in the middle of a dance call. It was bad. I mean the hip hop dance they taught us was great…but I was BAD. I couldn’t move in my jeans and I was still waiting to do a kid’s host audition. Moral of the story: Always check the top of the sign in sheet.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’ve been working on a lot of other people’s “passion projects” during quarantine, which has been so rewarding. It’s amazing to help others bring their dreams to life: podcasts, a new children’s show, a webseries…lots of fun stuff. I’ll also be back on set filming a second season of Nickelodeon’s TOP ELF very soon. I’m so excited to head back to the North Pole and get to work with the same group of amazing/talented people for a second time.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Everyone in this industry is FASCINATING — everyone’s jobs are so intricate, different, and HARD. I’ve definitely worked with some amazing well-known people, but I’m always so impressed by everything else onset…watching how the art department, camera operators, grips, everyone just comes together and makes something work.
On TOP ELF we have an amazing special guest every week — Amirah Kassem, Peyton List, and Pete Wentz to name a few. They kept the special guests a surprise and one day I walked on set to find an alum from the college I went to who I had met before — Frankie Grande. We graduated at different times, but we immediately started talking about professors we had and shows we did back in school. It’s a small world.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I highly recommend finding other things you enjoy. Acting is an interesting occupation because it can be both a job and your favorite thing to do. But why not pick up a hobby or dig deeper into an old hobby. I always loved reading growing up, but once I graduated I started only reading books about my craft. Recently, I remembered…it’s okay, and even beneficial, to read books that have NOTHING to do with the entertainment industry. Everything you do as a human, everything you learn is an additional tool to add to your toolbox. Later you can take out these non-actor things you read about or did and use them as inspiration for a project or character.
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Success is whatever you want it to be. Redefine success for yourself, and make it achievable for your everyday life. For me, I know I’m a success when I can help others laugh, smile, and learn. Find a little success in your day-to-day — the little successes help sculpt the bigger ones.
Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.
Quarantine has definitely helped me to take a minute and really set up a self-care routine. I never had a structured one before, but my body and my brain were yearning for something (ANYTHING) consistent so I worked to create one. Get ready….this is a long routine: Every morning (almost) I wake up and do a short workout using the app FitOn. It’s a free app and I highly recommend it. Then I meditate, something I used to think was woo-woo bananas…but now I’m all about it. Afterward, I wash my face, use a Vitamin C face serum, then ice roll my face while I drink coffee and watch something fun on TV. Ice rollers rock! They’re like jade rollers…but they’re cold and wonderful. Finally, I put on SPF ’cause it’s California, baby!
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) I wish someone told me how best to interact with managers and agents. I have amazing representation now who I communicate with really well, respect and admire. However, when I first started I had NO idea about the best and worst practices of working with my team. I let myself kind of fade into the background, I never really told them what I wanted out of my career, and I didn’t understand how to properly book out. In time I learned, but boy oh boy I wish someone would have given me a clear lesson on this beforehand.
2) I wish someone had outlined the casting sites I should be using and the casting sites I didn’t need from the get-go. Even if you have representation you need to be consistently working for yourself. Some of the best casting sites to get on are: ActorsAccess, LACasting or Casting Networks, and Backstage.
3) I wish someone had told me to find a side hustle with flexible hours, enough pay, and minimal stress right off the bat. It took me a while to find the right job to pair with my acting career. The week after I graduated I started bartending in NYC at a lounge in the East Village. I thought, “This is perfect! I work nights which will totally free up my days for acting!” As I continued I realized I was letting the bartending job fully envelop me. I worked from 7PM-4AM, 5 days a week. AKA: I had a full-time job in the dead of night. Afterwards, I’d walk all the way back to my Lower Eastside apartment and sleep until I had to go to work again. Auditions passed me by, classes wouldn’t work in my schedule and I certainly couldn’t make it to rehearsals. Leave it to say, that was not the right job for me. I’ve had a lot of other jobs in the interim but now I teach after school acting and direct children’s theatre and it truly fills me with joy.
4) I wish someone had told me networking is key. I’m outgoing, but I don’t love talking about my accomplishments. Over time, I’ve learned that networking can be natural to anyone, you just have to learn how you do it best. Networking needs to be and feel natural or else it comes off as fake. For me the most natural way to network is to relax and be myself…and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that probably works well for most people. Touting my resume doesn’t come naturally to me, but being a fun/inquisitive/quirky human does. I keep notes on the people I meet and reach out when it feels right and makes sense. Networking doesn’t just happen at networking events it happens onset, at auditions, in the grocery store, anywhere…so it’s always wise to be kind and be yourself.
5) I wish someone had told me to invest in myself. I finished college with a double major in Acting and Communications and figured…I’m good, I’ve spent my money (and a whole lot of it) on these degrees and I don’t need anything else. I kept using my headshot (which I got in high school) for an embarrassing amount of time, I didn’t take any classes other than improv, and you can bet I spent nothing on self-care. Finally, I’ve realized that investing in myself tends to reap benefits. I finally spent money on high-quality headshots, acting classes, voiceover equipment…and I’m seeing myself make that money back and then some. However, keep in mind that a lot of people provide “classes”, always try to talk to someone who has been in that class or program before you invest your time and money. There are so many amazing classes out there no need to waste any time on the mediocre.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My long time favorite quote is, “Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s acting in spite of it”. Every single day I find this to pertinent in my life, whether I’m acting or just going about my day-to-day. Courage is so important in an occupation where the word “no” is more common than “yes”. Applying for auditions, auditioning, working on my craft, and the constant ebb and flow of the industry can take a huge toll on a person. Every day takes courage. Fear and negativity will always be there, but it’s about getting up and trying despite everything.
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 grateful to so many people for supporting me, teaching me and encouraging me along a road that is unknown and uncertain. My parents, my boyfriend, my teachers and my friends all deserve so much praise.
I’m going to single out my mom as someone I would not have been able to succeed without. Neither of my parents are performers, my dad works with numbers and my mom works in science…and yet I knew I wanted to be an actor from a very young age and they had to figure out how to navigate that world. My mom was my biggest cheerleader despite having truly no idea what I was doing. She was NOT a stage mom, in fact, the whole thing made her nervous, but she did it all for me. As soon as I knew how to use a computer I was finding auditions and begging her to take me all over the state so I could tryout. Instead of asking for toys in elementary school, I asked for a manager. I had a friend with a manager and had my mom set up a meeting. Even today no matter what I do my mom is always there to support me. Thank you, mom!
You are a person of enormous 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 love to help elementary, middle and high schools across America to provide consistent and accurate education. There’s a major divide in what schools (even within the same state) learn and have access to. Our history books differ state to state and the quality of what is provided to students and teachers varies. Redlining throughout our country has caused many public schools to be homogenous even though this isn’t representative of the population. We owe it to our younger generations to give them all high-quality educations and set them up for success.
We are very blessed that 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. 🙂
There are so many people that I am inspired by, but two constant inspirations have been Amy Poehler and Nicole Byer. I’d love to hang out with these two strong, independent, hilarious women. Their careers are incredible, but moreover, they’ve both managed to enact change through organizations, podcasts, and social media. I just respect and love them both so much.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!