Do Not Make Your Art SO PRECIOUS! — Sometimes we don’t know what our masterpieces will be so put it all out there. Put it all on the line. Let the world see. You never know what someone will connect to, or what might change their life. Your art is not only for you, it’s a gift for the world. Don’t wait till it’s perfect. Just share it.
As a part of our interview series with the rising stars in pop culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Hoston. Stephanie Hoston is an actor, singer director born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She studied Film Production at Cal State University Northridge and Meisner technique at the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio. Stephanie is currently recurring as Crystal Pop on the popular children’s YouTube series, The Super Pops.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Istarted out as a singer, jamming on my living room table dressed in a Selena replica costume my mom made for me. When I saw Jennifer Lopez in the Selena movie, I knew I wanted to do something exactly like that. But it wasn’t until middle school when I auditioned for the musical theatre program there, that I realized I could be a dancer, singer, and actor all at once.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Getting to audition to be in the Netflix Selena series as the titular role has probably been one of the most mind-blowing things that has ever happened to me. A high school friend knew I could sing and act. She saw me perform in musicals at school growing up. She also knew I loved Selena. She was working at a Starbucks across the street from the casting office for the Selena series. One of the casting assistants would come in to Starbucks all the time for coffee runs and he must have mentioned something to my friend because she recommended he give me a shot. Up until that point, I was rarely getting auditions. Suddenly I got this opportunity to submit a self-taped audition for Selena! Never in a million years did I think I would get the opportunity to portray one of my idols. I submitted my tape and waited to hear back. I didn’t hear anything for a while until one day about a month and a half later, I found out, I would get to go to callbacks. Soon thereafter, they invited me to a producer session… and getting the opportunity to perform as one of my idols was one of the most epic, life-changing, confidence-building moments of my life and career. I was one of the top contenders for a while but didn’t end up booking it. At the end of the day, it truly jumpstarted my career. I was able to book The Super Pops immediately after that and have had plenty more wild dream audition experiences since.
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 got an audition through one of my very first theatrical agents. It was for a pretty big level project for me at that point considering I was very unknown. I had no real on-camera training, just theatre and Meisner based technique to fall on at that point. But I was so eager to book my first lead in a series, so I went for it. My boyfriend and I spent hours trying to figure out what the casting office might like. That was my first mistake. Finally, we sent it off to my agent, just in time for the deadline… only to receive an email telling me what a terrible, flat performance I had in that self-tape and that they couldn’t send out that tape because it was SO BAD! Not only that, they cc’d my brand new managers who I had just signed on within the month prior to the email… It was absolutely humiliating. It sounds kind of sad, but the funny part is I reacted to it. After I got that email I printed it out and stuck it on my wall as some sort of self-inflicted punishment… A reminder of how bad I was. What a crazy thing to do. I have since taken many classes and feel much more confident as an actor. I have also recycled that printed email.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now, I’m working on the third draft of my first feature film about a young woman finding her identity as a Latin woman who doesn’t know how to speak Spanish. I’m teaching myself guitar, taking singing lessons and working as Crystal Pop on the YouTube series the Super Pops.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Some of the most interesting people I’ve come across and auditioned for along the way have been creatives with an entrepreneurial spirit. Artists like Sara Bareilles, Kelly Rowland, and Brittany Snow have inspired me to keep reaching for my dreams because they are still doing the same. While they’re well known, they are constantly growing and striving for what they want to create just like me. Getting the opportunity to audition for them and others like them has been a dream come true. I’ve also had incredible teachers who have pushed me to be better and reminded me of the fun I need to have in the process. Teachers like Annie Grindlay, Elizabeth Mestnik, Chris Bensinger, June Barfield, and Donald Petrie, D.G.A. have really helped keep me focused and empowered on my path as an artist. Some of them have just been the best cheerleaders too.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
My biggest tip is to constantly change it up. For the majority of my life I have been obsessed with acting, singing, and dancing. I am a perfectionist, and this has limited me as an artist on more than one occasion. Taking the opportunity to learn things outside of my field, like boxing, surfing, and even guitar (although that’s still music) have helped round me out as a human. I think doing things like that and talking to people who are not in your specific field can be such a great thing. We can’t be so obsessed with our dreams that we forget to live our lives.
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.
I’m very prone to anxiety and depression especially right now with the current world events. Being a mixed-race person who is part black but doesn’t look it has been a painful experience. It allows people who don’t know I’m part black to feel more comfortable with saying things they might not otherwise say around black people. It forces me to use that privilege and have some very uncomfortable conversations with people. That and the pandemic we’re all experiencing has caused some major lows for me. However, I’m learning exercise (even if it’s just running 1 mile daily and a walk with my dog) helps to keep me sane. Daily affirmations about my future as a successful actor, and as a confident person in the present really help me to stay hopeful. Taking note of all the little things I’m grateful for (new things everyday)… this article, a note from a fan that day, my family’s health, helps keep me grounded. And above all, I pray and hold on to God as much as I can.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Five things I wish someone told me when I first started are:
- Take a good audition/ on-camera class BEFORE you start auditioning for on-camera roles. I would have saved myself so much grief and self doubt if I had done this!
- Don’t worry about marketing yourself until people are looking for you… until then enjoy exploring the process. — I was so focused on my “brand” for so long. I would worry about everything from social media to what I would wear to events, etc… that the substance of the craft would get lost in the process. Only until recently have I really started diving back into marketing and that’s because I’m gaining a following through my YouTube show. Just focus on the craft first, and use your social media however you want to, in the beginning, have fun… post pictures of your dog no one cares in the beginning. When they do care, you’ll have some help figuring that part out.
- Stop worrying about the manager or agent you don’t need yet– I worked very hard, sending multiple cold emails a day until I got my representatives. I’m still working with 2 of them and I’m grateful I have them, but I’m learning that the best reps are those that find you along the way. Instead of desperately searching for someone to believe in you and pitch you, do the work, keep creating, and let them find you. The working relationship will feel 1000 times better if you do it that way. They will really understand who you are and be able to pitch you better because they found you not the other way around. This way you don’t have to spend time trying to remind them of who you are and you waste less time by going out on auditions that are actually right for you.
- Do things other than your craft, become a well-rounded person. — I was only taking craft-related classes in the beginning and didn’t consider doing things that might open me up as a human. This not only helps you as a person, but it can become one of your special skills, you meet new people, and it can grow your confidence.
- Do Not Make Your Art SO PRECIOUS! — Sometimes we don’t know what our masterpieces will be so put it all out there. Put it all on the line. Let the world see. You never know what someone will connect to, or what might change their life. Your art is not only for you, it’s a gift for the world. Don’t wait till it’s perfect. Just share it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I recently read Jen Sincero’s, You Are A Badass and I was very inspired by the quote “If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse.” I learned so much from that book, and have put it to use by doing my work every day playing guitar, writing scripts, taking online vocal lessons. I am constantly trying to broaden my perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely been the person with excuses too, but that’s why this quote impacted me in such way. I have to keep growing and learning.
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?
My boyfriend has been the biggest supporter in my career. My parents have definitely been there too. They took me to countless rehearsals growing up. But as an adult artist, my boyfriend John has encouraged me to keep developing my career. He’s a writer and director himself, so he really understands all that I experience in the entertainment industry. He has been there for practically every self-tape, every booking, every close call, every heartbreak. There was one time, I had multiple auditions in one day. I had self-tapes to submit, and I had worked earlier that day as well. I also had a commercial job all the way in San Diego the next day (I live in the San Fernando Valley so that was about a 2 and a half-hour commute at the very least.) We finished filming the last tape very late at night… it must have been about 12 or 1 in the morning. I sent it off. And then I had to get to San Diego for a 7 am call time. He said I should just prep all the things I needed, get whatever sleep I could and he would drive me to San Diego and take a train back so he could get to work. If that’s not true support I don’t know what is. I couldn’t be an actor if it weren’t for the countless times he showed up for me in my life.
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 have two ideas! Well really I have lots of movements I’d like to start, but I’ll talk about these two here. Firstly, as a brown person of a diverse ethnic background, I want to bring an end to systemic racism. I am actively participating in the Black Lives Matter protests, as well as educating myself. I have conversations about race with the children who watch my YouTube show and adults in my life who disagree with me or are curious about learning more.
The second thing I’d like to bring attention to is homelessness. As an artist, I always know that the tables could turn and I could be on the street at the drop of a hat. I’m not sure how I personally could fix homelessness, but I do know that I’d like for people who are experiencing homeless situations to feel more human. I want to create a charity that provides entertainment for these people. I want them and others who are underprivileged to have the opportunity to dream and escape and find hope by watching and attending plays, movies, concerts, and more. Sometimes going to a movie or a play would help me find new inspiration in life, that’s what I want to give other people less fortunate than me.
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. 🙂
I would love to have a meal with Eva Mendes to talk about how she has navigated her career path. I’d love to learn more about her inspirations and aspirations for her future. She is someone who has made some great career moves while maintaining some sort of family life for herself. That’s something I would love to be able to achieve for myself, so any sort of advice on that would be amazing. She’s also incredibly talented and seems really down to earth, so just meeting her would be a blessing in my book.
How can our readers follow you online?
Readers can follow me at the links below!
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!
Thank you so much for having me!