What is watched and seen all around the world is what is accepted as social “norms” and expectations, even if it’s just on a subconscious level. More diversity helps better establish the vast amounts of stories, perspectives, and point of view’s that this world has. Everyone has a different experience and story to tell, so we should be creating art that represents that!
As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sarah Hamilton.
Sarah Hamilton is an American actress, writer, and filmmaker. She was born and raised in Webster, New York, where she found her passion for storytelling. In 2015, she published her first novel, started up her production company, Syrena Productions, and moved out to Los Angeles to attend college at Loyola Marymount University as a film and television production major. Since then, she has actively written/directed/produced multiple books, short films, web series, and began her professional acting career through various film, television, web, and theatrical projects.
Her filmmaking credits include many short films, a weekly vlog series on YouTube (Livin’ CA), original web series (LA Mermaids), sketches (Basic Witches) and her senior thesis short film (Dreamcatcher) that has been selected as a semi-finalist at the 2019 Burbank International Film Festival and the 2020 Lift-Off First Time Filmmaker Sessions. Her acting training ranges from theatrical (currently enrolled in weekly cold read classes with Melissa Skoff) to commercial (attended Killian’s Workshop, spring 2019, and Danielle Eskinazi’s commercial class, fall 2018) with 10 years of improv experience.
Sarah spends most of her time auditioning, filming self-tapes, creating original content, and working weekends as a party princess performer with the Pure Imagination Party Company. With her optimism, education, training, and life experiences, she actively hustles to make dreams come true.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you so much for having me! I grew up in Rochester, New York with my mom, dad, and younger brother, Adam. We have always been super close and I have always loved spending time with them and being creative! I’ve always been drawn to storytelling through many art forms, like creative writing, photography, filmmaking, music, drawing, painting, acting… just to name a few! I grew up with a pretty relatively “normal” lifestyle, so when it was getting closer to high school graduation and figuring out my plans, I was scared and uncomfortable to leave, but found my purpose in LA with the entertainment industry. I graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2019 as a film and television production major and have continued life with acting, creative writing, filmmaking, and making art.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Ever since I was really young, I would go with my family to the library and pick up a ton of fun books for storytime. I loved having stories read to me, which led to enjoying reading, and then with a vivid imagination, I would always be writing my own stories down in little notebooks. Around third grade, I found an article in a magazine about a girl who published a book at the young age of eight and it helped inspire me to follow my dreams, unapologetically, regardless of feeling “too young” or “not experienced enough”. My family has always been incredibly, wonderfully supportive, so I stayed inspired and wrote and published my first young adult fiction novel before graduating from high school in 2015. My collective passions for writing, photography/filmmaking, and acting complemented each other all the way throughout.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I have too many to tell! I really think the fact that I’m creating as much as I can and opportunities keep on happening is truly something. This may not be the most interesting story, but right after graduating from college, I had next to no structure in my life and it was very unsettling to suddenly be figuring out how to live my best life in a totally new world that was LA. (Living in LA during school is totally different from after graduation!) I went week by week, constantly looking for opportunities and opening as many doors as I could with more persistence and tenacity than ever. I learned the true definition of “hustle”! Despite a total sense of having no idea what was about to happen, opportunities kept presenting themselves. Dreams kept coming true. I learned that we don’t always have to have everything set and planned because life keeps giving us surprising turns along the way. The best thing to do is keep creating, stay positive, and know that everything always works out in the best (and unexpected) ways.
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?
Thankfully, a lot of my little “mistakes” were done when I started acting but I was still in middle and high school. Auditions were very difficult at first because I felt like everyone else that I was auditioning with had a ton of leading experience from past plays and musicals since they were very young. They were all comfortable singing and performing and I was as new as new could be. Since watching High School Musical in fifth grade, I knew that I wanted to be a part of the acting/dancing/singing/performing scene. During my first musical audition ever in middle school, I forgot the words to Happy Birthday, getting tripped up with “wait… who’s birthday is it!?!?”. During my first musical audition in high school, I totally messed up on a song that wasn’t even considered acceptable to audition with. What did I learn? Honestly, at that point, not much. I was pretty disappointed but through many failures and mistakes, I kept trying and going and finding new ways to be involved (like making my own films!). Rejection inspired me to prove everyone (including myself) wrong and prove that I AM ENOUGH and can make it happen. Over time, this has been incredibly helpful and keeps me inspired to this day!
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 ALWAYS incredibly thankful and grateful for my family. They have always helped support, inspire, and motivate me all the way throughout. Even when the pandemic hit and I went back to spend some time with them (which went from the original plan of two weeks to six wonderful months!), I felt incredibly torn between wanting to spend all my time with them going forward and finding my life purpose and dream career in LA. They helped me through the emotions and inspired me to trust my gut and live life to the fullest and presently. I think that’s really cool to live between two homes and feel so happy no matter where I am and I have them to thank for everything.
You have been blessed with great 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?
My best advice for anyone, especially those looking to pursue a creative passion in the entertainment industry, is to keep doing what you love, trust your gut, and keep creating for YOU and your happiness. Follow your heart, do what makes you happy, and keep going. Keep looking up and enjoy the process! There’s a lot of opportunity and as long as you keep on creating, things will keep happening for you.
What drives you to get up everyday and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?
I love the magic of storytelling! It’s wild how a simple idea-turned-story can communicate so much emotion in such a beautiful way. That along with the collaborative, creative nature of film and television, is always such a driving force for me. The entertainment industry is so unique, but it’s amazing being able to collaborate with others, tell stories, and inspire emotion and change in the world. Going forward, I’d love to see more optimistic, female-driven content. Especially in today’s time, I think it’s important to change the norm of what has been established, provide more opportunities, tell unique, unheard stories, and provide more hope and inspiration to the world.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
Thank you! I’m currently working on the second season of my original web series, LA Mermaids, which did get delayed a bit due to the coronavirus. I’m also working on a debut album, upcoming novel, and auditioning as much as possible! I’m really excited for upcoming acting projects and original music videos! I love making music videos and having original music to release is super exciting! I’d love to be a part of more films and TV, preferably with a lot of dancing and singing! I enjoy an eclectic range of art, so I’d really love to explore a lot of range in the industry.
We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?
I definitely think it is so important to have diversity represented in film and television because…
- What is watched and seen all around the world is what is accepted as social “norms” and expectations, even if it’s just on a subconscious level. More diversity helps better establish the vast amounts of stories, perspectives, and point of view’s that this world has. Everyone has a different experience and story to tell, so we should be creating art that represents that!
- Diversity brings us all together! I think there has been a lot of content in the past that only shows an image that was constructed to be the “perfect societal normal”, that hasn’t been very realistic for most. Having more content that has more realistic approaches can unite people and their beliefs, ideas, and experiences.
- More stories have more opportunities for everyone! Inclusion and diversity let more people share their stories and experiences. There are more opportunities presented with every new story/script/project and inclusions opens up the availability for all types of people to be a part.
Having the shift towards more diversity represented in film and television provides a really great potential for the future of culture. Just as we are always inspired and shaped growing up from what is presented from previous generations, the youth of today will grow up more open to diversity, social awareness, and the connection we all share as humans.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- There are SO many opportunities in entertainment! I feel like the whole idea of “Hollywood” is very stereotyped to be just actors, directors, and cinematographers with just major films and network tv shows that are all heavily competitive and all about “who you know”. To be fair, there is an extent of truth to this, but after living and working here for a while, it’s pretty clear that talent still matters, there is a lot of collaboration, and there are so many opportunities (and ways to earn a living) on many levels! It’s definitely a process, but you can start pretty general and redefine (and even swap around!) your personalized path. Everyone has a different path in entertainment and there are way more opportunities available when you collaborate, create, and stay optimistically dedicated to doing what you love.
- It’s okay to do many things! In fact, it helps! I started with writing as a novelist and then went into film school as a film production major but I also love acting. Early into college, I was on a set and was chatting with someone who mentioned if I felt that having multiple creative passions kept me from really focusing and succeeding on just one in particular. This conversation has definitely stuck with me but over time, I realized that I’m proud of being an artist of many forms and I find that using those multiple skills has been so helpful! We’re ARTISTS, whether that’s from writing, filmmaking, acting, music, visual design, dance… and so on. I think it’s truly amazing to use multiple creative platforms to inspire and really build on one another. I also believe more people should embrace multiple creative passions, since knowing them all really helps with creating and collaborating. Just writing, filmmaking, and acting alone significantly impacts the work and understanding of one another. It’s also a great way to expand your skillset and meet others along the way.
- There actually are pathways to entertainment! Everyone has their own specific path, but when you start realizing what you like (and what you don’t like), it becomes clearer what needs to be done in order for you to achieve your goals and “success”. Growing up, I was more used to the ideas of corporate growth and raises within one company, so the entertainment industry is definitely different there, but there are still steps that you can take along specific pathways and a lot of wiggle room to explore and figure out what works best for you. For example, with acting, you want to build up a reel (student films, internet projects, self-curated, and free gigs), get professional headshots, get set up on the main casting websites, build a website, and get training to build up your resume. Then you can get an agent and keep on working on different levels of projects. Are there other ways though? You bet! So many options and opportunities! It’s truly a learning and growing experience.
- Create your own content! Thankfully, this was some advice I was already following, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. With social media, phone cameras, and the internet, there are so many ways to build your brand and your career on your own. Typically, creatives lack a lot of control in this industry, but through self-curating your own projects and publishing your own art, you gain a lot of control over your brand, building an audience, and collaborating with others/networking. I am truly so thankful for the ability to keep filming and uploading online, especially with original web series. Not only has this significantly helped my career, but it’s also given so many opportunities for others as well!
- Please focus on self-care! This is something I’ve really been getting better about this year. Right out of college, I didn’t have a job, stability, or structure in my life and had to immediately adjust to a very busy and different lifestyle beyond anything I knew. Nothing could have fully prepared me for that year, but thankfully, a lot of acting and film opportunities showed up pretty quickly. I was working one day sets multiple days a week, sending out a bajillion emails, and started up as a party princess performer at children’s birthday parties, which has been such a perfect job with so much improv, singing, performing, and communicating improvement. I found a great weekly acting class and over time, got a structured, “normal” lifestyle. Then, the pandemic hit and drastically changed everything yet again. Right as it hit, I found out I was very iron-deficient, anemic, and with a ton of horribly restrictive bad eating habits that made me pretty unhealthy and I was too excited about my life to even realize. Paranoia and anxiety set in and I’m still healing. Point of the matter here is that taking time to eat well, learn about nutrition, and keep really healthy habits like drinking enough water and getting movement in is so helpful. Your health needs to come first since that’s what helps you do literally everything else. I’ve been super into music, meditation, and learning more about spirituality lately.
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? Please share a story for each one if you can.
Self-care has been a major focus this year! Even in the peak of happiness and accomplishing my wildest dreams last year, I was adjusting to life post-graduation and my movement and diet declined. I didn’t even realize it until this past March that I was dangerously iron and B12 deficient, which helped trigger a lot of paranoia and unhealthy symptoms, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Luckily, in quarantine, I’ve been focusing on my health and wellness while finding ways to keep eating healthy and staying active. My favorite self-care practices are sleep, drinking a ton of water, spending time with family and friends, having time by myself, listening to or performing music, going to the beach, dancing, getting out in nature, and meditating. Taking breaks, avoiding social media, and relaxing while listening to your inner self is so important. Reading a lot and becoming more spiritually in-tune has also helped a ton with my mindset, especially during a scary time.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
In sixth grade science class, there was this long classroom poster that read, “reach for the moon, even if you miss, you will land among the stars”. At the time, I wasn’t sure why I felt so drawn to it, but now, I think it really nicely sums up a lot of my life. There are so many major leaps of faith we have to take in order to achieve our dreams, because those leaps with taking risks, give us the strength as little tests to get us where we want to be. We can choose to stay in the comfort of where we know, or we can aspire for something more and push through the fear in order to make it so. Even if the dream goal isn’t accomplished right away, or it changes, it still brings us to something better and in-tune with our life path and journey. I think this quote keeps inspiring me to take risks, push fear aside, and go for my wildest dreams, unapologetically. So far, it’s definitely working and every tough decision (like moving to LA for college or even coming back just recently during the pandemic) has brought a lot of strength and happiness.
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Thank you so much! Ever since I published my first book before graduating high school, my movement has been to inspire as many people as possible to follow their dreams, unapologetically, no matter what! There are so many fears, especially in entertainment, that make us feel “not enough”. Not old/young enough, rich enough, talented enough… the list goes on. I believe those blocks keep so many creatives from their dreams. We are all ENOUGH. We are drawn to all of our dreams for a meant-to-be REASON. No matter what your dream is, anything and everything is possible as long as you keep creating, believe, and find the magical joy with what you’re doing.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
That’s a pretty tough question with one too many answers, but I always think it’d be cool to chat with the creators/showrunners of favorite shows like Once Upon a Time and Pretty Little Liars, since those shows have creatively inspired a lot of my original writing, filmmaking, and acting work and I’d definitely like to know more about how to bring such ongoing stories to life on a network television level. As it goes for music, definitely Ross and Rocky Lynch of The Driver Era, since their variety of music and ability to self-produce in-house music and music videos, I’d definitely like to know more about how their creative process.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
I am! I’m online everywhere @sarahfhamilton and you can find more at my
official website here: https://sarahfhamilton.wixsite.com/sarahhamilton
Additional Links: YouTube — youtube.com/sarahfhamilton
LA Mermaids (web series) — youtube.com/lamermaids
Instagram — Instagram.com/sarahfhamilton
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thank you so very much!