Victoria Savage: “My definition of failure is not creating”

I would love to start a “great connection” wave where people from wildly different backgrounds get to know each other in a fun way. In my favorite improv game, the audience offers a simple word to the actors. The actors search their brains to come up with a life experience using that word. I have […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

I would love to start a “great connection” wave where people from wildly different backgrounds get to know each other in a fun way. In my favorite improv game, the audience offers a simple word to the actors. The actors search their brains to come up with a life experience using that word. I have done this in class with friends and it’s amazing what you learn about people! It’s also amazing how much laughter there is! I imagine a huge group of people who don’t know each other at all, telling great life stories using a few simple words. I think it would really bring people together and help us reconnect as a society. World peace doesn’t mean we have to like each other. It means we respect each other and work toward understanding different points of view. I think this game could be a springboard for that.

As a part of our interview series with the rising stars in pop culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Victoria Savage. Victoria is a bi-racial, DIY, indie film actress and writer. Because we’re all sharing this crazy human experience, she views acting (and all art forms) as the perfect way to foster deeper connections and understanding between people. When she isn’t writing her own projects or acting, Victoria is growing vegetables, baking, refinishing old furniture, struggling with her 3D printer, and, of course, watching movies!

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have been performing for as long as I can remember. I started playing the violin at the age of three. That branched into children’s choir, dance, and finally acting. As a kid, I had these records (Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, and others) that I listened to constantly and acted out in the living room. One time, I put all the couch cushions in a large pile and stretched out on top of them so I could “fly” like Peter Pan! However, the world tells us not to be artists. We should be something “functional”. So, I slowed my roll after high school and studied Anthropology in college instead of theater. (In case you’re wondering, Anthropology is definitely not a functional degree . . . but it was so much fun!) Even though I tried to get through college without acting, I suddenly found myself teaching theater to kids in the community. The fact is, I didn’t know life without art. My whole life was art until college. The upshot was that I was very depressed after I graduated. I felt rudderless and no other career path inspired me the way acting does. My parents were so horrified by my evil mood that my mother dropped the law school suggestions and told me to enroll in acting classes asap! I did. HB Studio in New York City, the home of Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof, became my home for many years. A few days after my enrollment, I stood on the corner of 55th and Broadway and I asked myself if I was going to do this or DO THIS! Everything said, “DO THIS!” Here I am. Is it easy? No. Do I love it? Yes!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Let’s face it, being an actor usually means waiting tables and/or other services jobs (which can be a lot of fun, believe it or not). Because of my serving gigs, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a lot of very famous people. The best one was Quincy Jones. I don’t remember what the event it was, but he asked me for a glass of white wine. Being bi-racial, people are usually very interested in my background because I don’t seem to fall into one category or another. Sure enough, when I gave him the wine, he asked, “What’s your background?” I explained that my father’s side is African American (not sure of the exact geographical lineage yet, DNA test on the way!) and my mother’s side is Swedish and German. He nodded, gave me a huge smile, and said, “I knew it! Global gumbo!” It’s such a beautiful (and delicious) description that I use it to this day. Thank you, Q!

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?

One of my first auditions in LA was for a short film. I felt very prepared. I arrived on time, I knew my lines, I had the character down, etc. Everything went smoothly on my end, but the director and producer were preoccupied with other things during my audition. They were writing, texting, and basically doing everything except watching. Suddenly, out of nowhere, they both stared at me intently. Their eyes were bugging out of their heads! “How odd,” I thought and kept going with the scene. I didn’t realize what was going on until I got to my car. One of my contact lenes was giving me trouble. As I was checking my eye in the mirror, I noticed . . . my teeth. I had eaten broccoli for lunch so guess what? When I smiled, they saw a wall of broccoli! I laughed for days! The lesson is don’t forget “last looks”!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am currently writing and producing a micro comedy series called Berda Mae & Ballulah about two bickering sisters who eventually come together. I describe it as a cross between Absolutely Fabulous and Madea. I started writing it last summer but never had time to sit down and finish until LA was under stay at home orders. Obviously, I wish we weren’t going through a global pandemic, but I’m grateful because I have been able to spend a lot of time on it. We’ve already shot the pilot episode and I’m excited to shoot the rest! Other projects on my to do list include a comedy podcast and a dramatic sci-fi television series.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I met a big indie film producer once in Whole Foods. We just started chatting about film and exchanged information. Since producing is something I’d like to learn more about, I asked him if we could sit down for coffee. I found out that producing films is his second career. He woke up one day and decided film was his heart’s desire. So, he read a great news article, thought it would be a good story, pitched it, and got it done. Our meeting was short but meaningful. He said, “Go for it. Just go for it.” That stuck with me. I came away with two things. First, it’s never too late to change paths and, second, we just have to ask for what we want. If we don’t ask, then we get nothing.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Taking breaks is very important. Take a few months off from auditioning when you need to. Don’t worry, the world won’t end. Also, watch/view/read about other forms of art. I get inspired watching dance, looking at paintings and sculpture, and listening to music. It “cleanses my pallet” in way. Also, I think burn out happens when we aren’t steering the ship; when we’re waiting for others to cast us. After 10,000 rejections it’s hard to feel excited, right? My way through this is by creating my own work. It’s easier to get up in the morning if I know creativity is going to be part of my day no matter what. Noting has reignited my fire like writing this comedy series! I don’t have to wait for calls from casting directors or my agent because I already have work. The bonus is this part is tailored exactly to my strengths because I wrote it for myself! It’s my dream project!

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?

My definition of failure is not creating. My definition of failure is stopping. Why? Because I’ve let myself down. My measure of success and progress is when I ask myself, “Are you happy?” and the answer is, “Ecstatically!” If I don’t get this answer, I’ve failed. If I do get this answer, I’m wildly successful. How many people can say that? Nothing will burn someone out faster than comparing themselves to someone else. Don’t fall into that trap. Ever. The stories about Thomas Edison’s many “failures” always inspire me. Inventing was in his blood! What if he had stopped inventing after the disastrous electric pen? Would we have the light bulb? The world will never know but we do know that the light bulb has made life better! So if I stop creating now, I’m guaranteed to fail. If I continue, I’m guaranteed to win because my happiness is guaranteed.

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’ve been practicing a Buddhist meditation for the last eight years. I find it extremely helpful in that it keeps me both joyful and realistic about what’s going on. My mind opens up to new possibilities and options that I might not have thought of. The self-realization is incredible. I can clearly see how my particular personality and actions cause outcomes that I might not want (or outcomes I might want). I gave myself a homework assignment at the beginning of the pandemic. My goal is to have gratitude for everything, especially the bad things. It’s not easy but it’s an excellent exercise for shifting to a better perspective. For example, I acknowledge that the world is in turmoil right now but it’s also a great opportunity to remake our society into what we want. I believe we’re in the process of tossing out things that aren’t working and leaning toward a more equitable society. Roses need fertilizer, right?

Massage and exercise are very important to me as well. Too often we neglect or mistreat our physical bodies! My preferred exercise is yoga. Recently, I have discovered a series of exercises called the 5 Tibetan Rites. I need to read more about the history of it but it’s a great endurance builder and works every muscle! Flexibility is an issue for me and this also stretches out my muscles.

But back to massage . . . my favorite recent self-care discovery is ayurvedic massage! This is a very light massage, almost like lymphatic drainage, and the practitioner also focuses on pressure points. I can’t wait for this pandemic to go away so I can go back! During one session, the practitioner pressed the point in the middle of my right palm. I had a crazy mental image of her opening a doorway to the universe through my hand! It was beautiful and suggested to me how infinite life is and how easy it is to access our own limitless potential.

Nourishing food is important for me as well. I realize this won’t work for everyone, but I have been a vegetarian for eleven years and my health has completely turned around! For years, I drank way too much caffeine (I love coffee!) and ate too much sugar (still need to work on this!). This mistreatment of myself led to severe adrenal fatigue which can linger for years. Through lots of research, patience, and a clean diet, I was able to reverse the condition in record time without a lot of medical intervention. I never want to go through something like that again, so I have cleaned up my diet even more since then and started down the vegetarian path.

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. Excitement: Only work with people who are excited to work with you! Otherwise, you are in the position of trying to “convince” someone to work with you which, as we know, never works. It’s like trying to convince someone to date you. The relationship is doomed from the start. It doesn’t matter if the person who is excited to work with you has all of the qualifications you’re looking for or not. They will learn and they won’t leave you in the lurch. I’ve had projects fail, not because there was lack of talent or resources, but because people simply didn’t want to be there. Find your tribe and work with them.
  2. Create your own work: Go on as many auditions as possible but the path to real fulfillment is creating your own work. You will learn so much about yourself as an artist and about the business when you do this. As I said before, you can tailor to you so why not? You will also expand your skillset which makes you more valuable. Maybe you’re good at costumes, maybe you understand lighting. Even people at the top can do other things like direct and/or produce. The best way to learn the business is to DO the business. Your enthusiasm and joy will continue even during dry spells . . . but, actually, there won’t be any dry spells because you’ll be creating!
  3. Always take a class: Classes aren’t just about practicing and learning your craft. Classes are networking and tribe-finding opportunities. We need people to cheer us on and inspire us! We need a warm, fuzzy place to go to when we’re not getting callbacks and auditions. Basically, we need comrades in arms. Otherwise, life is too lonely. You’ll also learn valuable information about how to navigate the world. Where can you find a good headshot photographer? Ask your classmates! Anyone need a roommate? Ask your classmates! Where’s the best dance class in town? You get the idea. And when you start creating your own work, you can cast your talented classmates which will help everyone!
  4. Don’t skimp on headshots: I spent so many years thinking I could get by with cheap headshots. Do. Not. Make. This. Mistake. Headshots are our business cards. If someone ripped off a piece of old newspaper, wrote their name and phone number on it, and said, “Here’s my business card,” would you take them seriously? No! You don’t have to spend thousands but see it as an investment in yourself and your career and spend a good chunk of money. Which leads me to . . .
  5. Find a job that actually supports your art: I spent years scraping by as a server because I chased that “flexible schedule”. I thought I needed to be available at any moment to go to an audition. Maybe this works for some people, but it didn’t work for me at all. My serving jobs, while fun and character-building, didn’t support me financially. I couldn’t pay for good headshots, classes, postcards, health insurance, healthy food, and all the other things actors need. At times I had to choose between rent and things I needed to support my career which was a terrible situation to be in. Personally, working a steady job has given my career the biggest boost. Once I established myself as a dedicated and hard worker, I was trusted. Then it was never a problem to leave for an audition. They knew I would finish the job even if I had to stay late. The added bonus of a steady job is that I can now fund my own projects! (Come on, you knew I had to sneak that in!)

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

As you can probably tell by now, I love to create situations that put me in the driver’s seat of my life and career. It feels good to know that I’m on a path that I choose and that I’m not waiting around for a path to open up for me. Nelson Mandela’s favorite poem Invictus by William Ernst Henley always gets me fired up. Here’s the last stanza which I find particularly motivating:

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.”

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?

There really are too many to thank but I will choose my four greatest acting coaches. Not only did they teach me about the craft, but with each of them I understood a little more about life. My first professional coach in New York opened my eyes to meditation and the idea of seeing art as a meditation. My second coach showed me how incredibly deep the human psyche is. Our minds are infinite. How lucky we are as artists to be able to use this infinite source to create! My third coach taught me the power of self-created work. There really is nothing better than starting a project and seeing it through to its finish; looking at the finished product and saying, “I did that!” Driving is so much more fulfilling than just going for the ride. My fourth coach reminded me how important a supportive artistic community is. I have met more wonderful, talented humans in that class than anywhere else in the world. It’s also a reminder that the best and brightest are also frequently the nicest and most humble.

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 start a “great connection” wave where people from wildly different backgrounds get to know each other in a fun way. In my favorite improv game, the audience offers a simple word to the actors. The actors search their brains to come up with a life experience using that word. I have done this in class with friends and it’s amazing what you learn about people! It’s also amazing how much laughter there is! I imagine a huge group of people who don’t know each other at all, telling great life stories using a few simple words. I think it would really bring people together and help us reconnect as a society. World peace doesn’t mean we have to like each other. It means we respect each other and work toward understanding different points of view. I think this game could be a springboard for that.

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 absolutely love to meet two people: Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffett. They seem to have a special joy and satisfaction about them. They both have ethics, they are obviously hardworking, they don’t seem to bend to outside pressure, and they use their power and wealth for good. What are their daily practices? What gives them hope? What inspires them? In what direction do they want world to go? And most importantly, what is their guiding, life philosophy?

How can our readers follow you online?

My website is, Instagram is @popcorndinner, Twitter is @SavageVtoria

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

Thank you for what you’re doing! Thrilled to be part of this!

You might also like...

Just because someone is gay, or lesbian, does not mean they will have anything much in common with other gay or lesbian people you have known.

How To Be A Great Gay Ally

by Remy Blumenfeld

Joseph Deitch On How To Leave a Lasting Legacy With a Successful & Effective Nonprofit Organization

by Karen Mangia

Todd Mitchem On How We Need To Adjust To The Future Of Work

by Karen Mangia
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.