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Check Out Jalina Brown’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jalina Brown.

Hi Jalina, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My acting career started when I was about six. One year, the high school was doing a production of Les Mis and included kids from the middle and elementary school, so I got to be part of Gavroche’s Gang of street children. I remember being backstage watching all the older kids get their makeup done and going over their scripts and I had a moment where everything kind of clicked. I was obsessed. I loved that environment and the fact that this huge cast and crew were all working together to tell this story was mind-blowing to me. I knew I wanted to be part of something like that all the time and didn’t want to do anything else. I think I always wanted to perform before I even knew what acting was, so being able to put that artistic impulse into a performance made me feel like I had found my calling. Since then, I’ve been unwavering in my pursuit to be an actor. I auditioned for every local theatre production, every PSA, every random background gig that I could find. Being from a small town in Midcoast Maine, there weren’t a ton of opportunities, but I’d stay up on my computer all night searching for every last one. I feel very fortunate to have discovered my passion so early in life and it’s what has kept me driven to this day.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Considering I chose one of the hardest careers to break into, I think the road has been surprisingly smooth. Obviously you deal with a lot of rejection, and that can lead to self-doubt and make you question why you chose this path in the first place, but I’ve been really lucky with the opportunities I’ve had so far. I’ve been able to work with some amazing people on some really unique projects. There have been a lot of slow periods where I don’t book anything for months, but I have an incredible support system of friends and coworkers and people from my acting classes that have kept me motivated even when I’m not booking anything. Something I wasn’t expecting was just how tough it is to be an actor when your personal life gets complicated. In order to book jobs, I have to constantly be submitting myself for roles and doing auditions and it’s all up to me to find these jobs since I don’t have representation yet. Over the past couple of years, my community back in Maine has suffered the loss of a few really special people, one of whom was one of my best friends since high school. Going through something so painful made staying focused on acting nearly impossible and it almost felt selfish or trivial to go on auditions while my community was grieving. I listened to a couple of actor podcasts and found I was not the only person to experience this guilty feeling. This career is extremely complicated and at the end of the day, it is a career. I realized I can still work toward my goals but it’s okay to take breaks and not be “hustling” all the time.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Growing up, I always had a pretty weird sense of humor and making people laugh brought me so much joy. I was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Midcoast Maine when I was young so I think being the only half Tanzanian half-white kid in the room at any given time growing up gave me a pretty unique perspective. I felt like an outsider a lot of the time so I covered up any self-doubt with humor. I made it my goal to never let anyone else feel like they didn’t belong when they’re around me. I love when people feel they can be themselves and show me their weird side because it means they feel comfortable enough that they won’t be judged for who they really are. For me, the easiest way to connect with someone is through humor so I hope I get the opportunity to explore comedy throughout my career. Since moving to LA, I’ve done some webseries, a couple short films, comedy sketches and starred in a music video for my unbelievably talented friends The Oshima Brothers (check out their music!). Most recently, I booked the lead role in a Lifetime movie which wrapped filming in November. It was a pretty huge deal for me to book this without an agent or a manager, and I’m still kind of in shock that I landed this amazing opportunity. For some of the other actors, this was also their first big film role so there was a sense of excitement on set every day. The shoot was only a few weeks long and the whole thing felt like summer camp. Everyone was constantly cracking jokes and I think that goofy chemistry we all had together will come through in the film. I’m so proud to be part of this project!

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
The biggest resource I’ve been using has been Instagram. As toxic and draining as social media can be, I love seeing other actors post about their wins. I expected Hollywood to be a more cutthroat, competitive place, but I’ve met some of the most genuine, kind people since moving here. I love meeting people on set and staying connected with them through Instagram, it makes it so easy to reach out to people without the intimidating feeling of “networking”. I’ve messaged people in the past with questions and all of them have responded with valuable advice and I’ve had people reach out to me for advice as well. It can be a useful tool and it’s really encouraging to feel like we’re all in this together and there’s enough success to go around. Stacy Solodkin (Beth Stein Agency on Instagram) does Q&A’s on her Instagram story and has a wealth of knowledge about the industry. She has been a great source of information for actors at any level in their careers. One Broke Actress is an awesome podcast created by fellow actor Sam Valentine. She talks about all the unexpected challenges of being an actor like burnout, mental health, body image issues and all the other less glamorous aspects of the industry. An amazing commercial acting resource is Judy Kain’s book “I Booked It”. Judy has been acting for over 38 years and booked over 375 commercials so she definitely knows her stuff. I also just got into meditation and downloaded the “Insight Timer” app which has a ton of guided meditations. Taking care of your mental health is so important no matter what your career is. The struggles of being an actor can take a toll, so finding time in my day to meditate and check in with myself has made such a difference, even if it’s as short as 3 minutes.

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Image Credits
Bella Saville Photography, Jackie Kay, The Oshima Brothers, Jubilee Media

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