The biggest one was when I decided to leave a lucrative career as a Realtor at thirty five years old to pursue my acting. Many people said “Aren’t you a little old to change careers?” And I must say a few times over the past few years I have for a moment thought “Am I crazy?” But here I am.
Asa part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy Wilkins.
Wendy Wilkins is an award winning actress, writer and filmmaker on a mission to change the world by making it a more harmonious place through utilizing the creative arts. As a former cop, Wendy’s memoir, “Sex, Love & Cops” is available at various outlets including Amazon and Barnes & Noble and the narrated version on iTunes. And she has Wendy is in plans to develop it into a series. Wendy was also the no1. Realtor in Australia, personally selling a Billion dollars in real estate. Wendy’s first film, ”Big Bully Bank” which she wrote, produced and starred in, smashed the festival circuit, picking up several awards including “Best Comedy Scene” — AOF International Film Festival. Best Cinematography — AIF Festival and was invited to screen at The Occupy Sundance Film Festival. Wendy is currently appearing in the dark comedy feature “Deany Bean is Dead” streaming on Amazon prime and Tubi tv. Wendy resides in Hollywood, California and is honored to have recently become a US Citizen. Wendy is a member of Australians in Film, Women in Film, Women in Media, SAG/AFTRA, Actors Equity.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?
Asa young child we lived in a country town, a couple of hours from Melbourne. My mum worked for the city and my Dad had a small electrical company. I put shows on in the garage on a makeshift type stage for my Grandfather and family members. I convinced my brother and sister to be in them. The joy it brought to my Grandfather is one of my fondest memories. I also charged him an entry fee which is a funny thing to do as a seven year old.
I always wanted to be a creative artist but I was brought up that this was not a career. So I have worked since I was sixteen years old supporting myself. I became a cop at nineteen years old, you can read those stories in my memoir, Sex, Love & Cops. I think becoming a cop was a perfect training ground to build confidence and become a successful realtor. I bought my first property at 24 years old before I was actually in real estate. I built up a multi million dollar property portfolio over the years and became the number 1 realtor in Melbourne by learning as I went. I was fortunate to have great mentorship.
The acting bug was always there though and took some acting classes part time at Peter Sardi’s acting school, I really loved his classes and just could not let go of the desire to follow this path. In fact I went through a type of depression (not knowing it at the time) because I wasn’t following my true desires. I was earning 500k a year and was having trouble getting out of bed. Outwardly looking successful, living in a luxury waterfront condo, driving my Porsche and being considered very successful by the people around me. But I just wasn’t happy. I actually booked the first film I auditioned for in Melbourne and then decided to move countries to pursue my craft. London first, studying acting with Giles Foreman and Diana Laurie and intensive Shakespeare studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. The teachers there were so passionate about Shakespeare. I worked in theater and attended some amazing West End Productions. Then realized if I wanted to work in film and television I needed to be at the center of that universe, Hollywood!
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I have a screenplay that is a family musical and am excited to be writing the songs with a talented female composer friend. The theme is “when you think all is lost, just take one step, hum along and soon you will be singing a song”. In essence, through story, I want to help inspire others that if you think you can’t go on just take that one step, keep going and perhaps before you know it you will be happy again.
In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?
Well I am an organization into myself (LOL) . I think it’s the fact that I am relatively happy most days and that’s because I discovered the true definition of success! It took me a few years to work it out but it’s waking up every morning pretty much choosing what you want to do. The most precious thing we all have is time so the more effective we can be with our time the better. I wake up most days feeling this way.
Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?
Yes many times but the biggest one was when I decided to leave a lucrative career as a Realtor at thirty five years old to pursue my acting. Many people said “Aren’t you a little old to change careers?” And I must say a few times over the past few years I have for a moment thought “Am I crazy?” But here I am.
In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂 Well I currently have a major role in a feature film streaming on all major platforms called “Deany Bean is Dead”. It’s a dark comedy and written and starring a very talented female writer. When I auditioned they were looking for a star name and I was up against some very well known Hollywood actresses and I booked the role. It really was a pivotal moment for me reminding me I had come this far.
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 has been a few along the way, mentors that have helped me. Phil Mollard a successful property developer was my mentor in real estate when I started out. He taught me the numbers on how to build wealth through property investing and the philosophy behind that. After all they are not making any more land.
With my acting, Ivana Chubbuck, my acting coach really pushed me to be a better actress by being very tough with me and also Katt Shea, writer, director and Acting coach, has been a huge support by suggesting me for roles and mentoring me with my first foray into directing. Also my Mum. She never said I couldn’t or shouldn’t follow any path and she has a really strong work ethic that she instilled in us.
It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?
Well I am adopted and I think that subconsciously that those “abandonment issue” played into me being determined to prove “I am enough”. I have always had a burning desire to prove this. While studying acting with Ivana Chubbuck I began to understand this more.
It’s kind of like therapy sometimes, studying acting as you delve into why you do the things you do and use this to overcome obstacles.
I have met my birth family now and have become very close to them over the years. I feel grateful that I have such a large family, including my family I grew up with. I now have eighteen nieces and nephews!
Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)
- Surround yourself with positive people.
Even though there were a lot of people that said “Aren’t you a little old to change careers” my close girlfriends were all supportive and encouraged me and even said that I inspired them by “going for it.” Also I grew up in the era of “Sex and The City”. That tv series helped inspire us girls to follow our passions.
2. Seek out the best in their field to learn from.
I researched the best acting classes in LA and London and was fortunate to be accepted into them. I wanted to make sure there were working actors actually taking these classes.
I wanted to be the least experienced , not the most experienced in class. When I audited Ivana Chubbuck’s class the first person I met was Travis Fimmel. I didn’t realize he was Australian at first and he bought me a cup of coffee as a “Welcome”. I was impressed that all these working actors were still working on their craft. In fact in Ivana’s book, “The Power of The Actor”, she talks about when Charlize Theron was in class she would leave a movie set and rush to class to get a new scene to work on. I loved this work ethic and the expectations of such by the studio.
3. Don’t spend too much time listening to negative people. There are just as many positive stories about people overcoming huge obstacles to succeed as there are people that have lost their way. Concentrate on the positive stories. The glass is either half full or half empty. Just by concentrating on half full makes a huge difference.
4. Read autobiographies of inspiring people and about the journeys that people in your field have been on to get where they are today. There really has not been anyone successful that hasn’t overcome obstacles. A common thread is there is no such thing as a mistake, it’s learning and growing. And also most people suffer from some form of insecurity or self doubt but the successful ones keep picking themselves up and moving forward. Even if it is three steps forward and two steps back. I followed the careers of people like that.
5. Meditate, exercise, find other areas of enjoyment besides your career. For me I make sure to travel each year, to visit friends, new exotic places, some places I’ve been before. I always feel refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to take on the world again after a vacation. The world will still turn if you take a few days off. I know some people that think they will “go on that trip once they have succeeded in their career” but don’t wait, to have resilience you need to be well rounded and look at the current situation we are in! Even if we wanted to, it is difficult to travel now.
What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?
I came across this quote recently through Chris Winfield and Jen Gottlieb at Superconnector media, (love them), from Steve Jobs “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that somehow the dots will connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever”.
I really like this.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I have suggested this before My sister, passed last year and she was passionate about the inhumane treatment of refugees, we had many conversations about this. Traveling through Spain, with a friend a couple of years ago, we came across a beautiful little town that was basically crumbling and almost deserted.
I would set up all over the world, in towns like this, a refugee centre, a place for displaced people where people, where they can live and learn trades, basically create a whole community. Teachers, painters, plumbers, language teachers carpenters, bakers, organic farming. People with these skills would teach these trades to displaced people and help rebuild these towns. They could end up creating a community and bringing deserted towns back to life. Then if, at some stage, it was safe to return to their country they could decide to stay in their new community or bring back a trade that would be useful to help rebuild their respective towns. This would help local unemployment, empower people, relieve housing shortages and treat people with respect.
Can our readers follow you on social media?
Yes please let me know who you are and send me a message 🙂 I always reply. You can follow me on instagram https://www.instagram.com/wendywilkinsoz/?hl=en and twitter same handle.
Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!