Tales of Tinseltown: Long Beach, Lobster Sunburn & an R&B Wedding!

Once I was a girl that studied Media & Culture at the University of Amsterdam. Now I am a boy that studies…oops, wrong identity issue! Back to the Media & Culture studying: it lasted all of three weeks, but something very significant landed in my field of vision during one of the classes, and who knows how different my life would have been without that happening. You see, a brochure of a company that has summaries of study books for sale was given to me. The unimportant part here is that the brochure mentioned summaries of study booked that were for sale. The important part is that there was a call for volunteers in third world countries on the brochure. I read the call on Tuesday, and was on a plane to Surinam on Friday. And had I not done this impulsive (and slightly dumb) thing I don’t know if I’d have ever traveled alone the years after. And the traveling alone is what got me to Panama which eventually lead to contact with a Hollywood agent and of course me landing in the City of Angels by myself…  And me turning into a lobster, being mistaken for Kirsten Dunst, attending a wedding and almost bumping into Jessica Alba…

So on a day in July in 2008 my parents drove me to the airport, my nerves twisting my stomach to diarrhea (sorry for the visual, but I look at it from the bright side: at least I didn’t have to work out that day. Not that I ever do…). Watching the rainy, flat Dutch landscape didn’t help either. And I wasn’t as much nervous for L.A as I was nervous for the airport thing. Saying goodbye and walking through customs alone waving back to my parents… even if it’s only for five weeks it’s all just dramatic. But once I was in the airplane by myself heading to the unknown I just felt on top of the world. Which, I  guess, I literally was so maybe that explains it. And for some reason I was much less nervous about entering L.A. than I was when I went there with my parents. Perhaps because now I had a purpose. Two, actually.

Purpose number one: At the time of the L.A.planning I was working at a traveling agency that specialized in road trips through North America. My work consisted of raising the American and Canadian Flag every morning, amongst other things, which alone I think should qualify me for a Green card (work visa for US of A). So when I knew for certain that I was going to Los Angeles that year I made a deal: I would check out some hotels in Tinseltown and the company would pay for my stay at a hotel (the Hacienda LAX). And I would hereby immediately like to discourage everyone from staying at a hotel while in Los Angeles alone. Not only does it cost a lot of money but hotels are just lonely places. After two days of arriving in an empty hotel room at night I started talking to myself. Luckily I was only supposed to stay there two nights … So anyway, the very first day I was in L.A. by myself I went to Long Beach. Long Beach is a beach (suprise!) with a marina where lots of TV shows are filmed, for example Prison Break and Dexter. I had to check out a hotel there and afterwards I just walked on the not too sunny beach for a bit. Or so I thought. When I got back to the hotel in the evening I realized I had walked on the beach for eight hours straight! And apparently it had been breezy but extremely sunny because my skin was as red as a lobster and was already starting to peel off. In hindsight that was a good thing, because I had planned to look perfect and stylish every day, you never know when you’ll bump in to Steven Spielberg after all. But lobster-me made that all impossible anyway, and that took all the pressure off right from the start (not that I was thinking these wise thoughts back then, I was super bummed!) While I was looking in the mirror at my fabulous hot skin after I had taken a shower I heard some R&B sounds coming from the hotel garden. I looked out my window and right beneath it a just-like-in-the-movies-wedding was taking place! Nothing like a live chick flick to get your mind off your appearance…

Now on to purpose number two, the important one: acting! While I was doing an acting on camera workshop in Amsterdam I met a girl who I had a great improv session with. And she happened to know about an acting class in L.A.: The Actor’s Bootcamp at The Acting Corps. I checked the website and it looked like a really ideal acting course for foreigners who can not stay in the US very long. In the Bootcamp I program you train five hours a day, five days a week, a month long. The course is largely introductory and perfectly suited for people who want to know what grown up acting and the showbusiness in Los Angeles is all about. They also have some deals with apartments and guesthouses so you can find a place to stay at for less than the usual. I stayed at a place called the Chateau de Soleil, a well kept guesthouse in North Hollywood, only half an hour walking distance from The Acting Corps. So after I had some typical huge American breakfast at the Hacienda LAX I packed my suitcase and headed for the Hawthorne metro station. Though L.A’s metro system isn’t very well known nor very extensive, it can get you places. Like Long Beach, or North Hollywood. After first taking the wrong metro because there are two red lines going different places, I got to the North Hollywood station after three hours or so. I took the elevator upstairs and there I was, all alone in Los Angeles like I had always wanted. Free to do whatever I want. And at that moment, I really wanted to change clothes. You see, North Hollywood is in the middle of the valley, and in the valley it is hot. Hot, hot, hot. And I had been dragging my suitcases through town for some hours so you can imagine I didn’t exactly smell wonderful. Nor did I look wonderful in my pasty red skin. But who cares, I was in the City of Angels! When I got to the guesthouse my first illusion was stomped into the ground right away. I thought I had been corresponding with a nice little grandma called Gaby about my stay. Turned out it was a 20- something (I think) awesome, vampirey dude named Gary. Now in this case reality was much cooler, because he bought us a chocolate cake which ended in our faces but I’ll get to that later…

When I got to my shared room (with two others) I was a little bit shocked. My roomies weren’t present but I could tell one thing about them already: They. Were. Messy. Now I’m not the neatest myself but this room looked like a SWAT team performed a raid in the dressers. Luckily the girls responsible were super, and it was a good excuse for me to be messy as well anyway. After finding a non cluttered place to put my suitcase I went to check out the room next door to see if there were other people who were gonna do the Bootcamp I course. And there they were! The two girls I’d be taking acting courses with and spending most of my time with generally. They were both some of the most giving, special people I’d ever met and I still feel very grateful for getting to know them.

But the word count has crossed the 1300 and my eyes are turning into squares, so I’m going to have to postpone the stories about the acting course, cake fight, meeting with the Hollywood agent and Jessica Alba to the next post! But I hope this one was helpful or inspiring or at the very least enjoyable. And please, if you have any feedback or questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

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11 Comments

Filed under Los Angeles

11 responses to “Tales of Tinseltown: Long Beach, Lobster Sunburn & an R&B Wedding!

  1. What a journey:) Blog’s coming along nicely. Now you need a blog buddy: http://www.getinthehotspot.com/blog-buddies-and-the-web-party/ Got to get those comments rolling in and some feedback from your peers:) x Annabel

  2. Very inspirational. This story actually brought back some LAX butterflies for me as well. The part when you stood there in LA all by yourself free to do whatever, whenever … felt SO relatable. Anyways

    Ik vermaak me super met je op FAAAM! Echt een super leuke blogg. Wil dit jaar echt echt echt weer naar de USA. San Diego en LA staan weer op me route. Comic Con 2011 wordt ZO vet. Ga je mee?

    x Yoeri

  3. Sharon

    Hi there,
    I’m an actress in New York, but I’m originally from Belgium (yep, I’m your neighbor :))
    I moved here about 3,5 years ago. I came here on an M1 visa (student visa) and I was a student at TVI Actors studio for 2,5 years! Now I’m an intern there. I saw your post on the TVI Facebook page, that’s how I found out about your blog. I love your blog. It’s so interesting to hear about other people’s experiences in the US. Especially other people who are as passionate as I am about pursuing a career as an actor in the US. So you’re moving to LA next year? I bet you’re really excited. I was, I couldn’t wait to get on that plane. Are you going as a student again? Or are you going on a different kinda visa? Let me know if you have any questions! I’d love to talk!

    • Hi Sharon, I already sent you a mail, but I only just realized that you’re in TVI NY. I once saw a documentary by Louis Theroux on acting in NY and it was all about TVI studios. It’s called “off off Broadway” have you seen it? So what’s New York like for actors? It’s more theatre I know, but I wonder if the vibe is different from LA. Most likely! x

      • Sharon

        Hi!
        Wow, no I haven’t seen it, I definitely want to check it out!
        Do you know where I can find it?
        I’ve never been to LA, so I can’t compare. But New York is such an exciting place for actors. Everybody’s always doing something, everybody’s busy all the time! And we walk everywhere, so you get a pretty good workout here 🙂

  4. Lisanne

    Zit je om FAAAM nu? Wanneer is dit gebeurd waar je nu over schrijft? Super vet dat je in LA bent geweest, hoop dat ik dat ook nog mee ga maken!

  5. Hi Lisanne, deze post gaat over de tweede keer dat ik naar LA ging in 2o08. Er zullen nog veel meer verhalen aankomen over deze keer want ik heb heel veel meegemaakt toen, sterren gezien, agenten ontmoet…In 2009 ben ik nogmaals naar LA geweest en ook daar zal je alles over te horen krijgen 😉 En volgend jaar ga ik dus voor lange tijd naar LA en dan kan ik real-time iedereen bijhouden over wat ik allemaal doe. En ik hoop dat dat veel zal zijn! Veel succes met je eigen LA plannen, lijkt me leuk als je me op de hoogte houdt! En als je vragen hebt, let me know!

  6. Emilie

    Hey! This sounds so exciting! I’m from Denmark, and I really wanna do that acting corps boot camp next summer 2012. Can I ask you what you had to pay approximately for the entire trip? Plane tickets, boot camp, staying at the guesthouse..

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