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Life and Work with Camelia Somers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Camelia Somers.

Camelia, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
On the surface, I present like a basic b**** from the west side of Los Angeles. I’m blonde (with a little help from my colorist!). I grew up in an entertainment family (my grandmother is Suzanne Somers of “Three’s Company”). I went to Harvard Westlake for high school – which if it doesn’t kill you, will help you emerge as an extremely educated person. I was captain of the cheerleading team, dance captain and had the leads in a few musicals. I was your typical actress wannabe and clearly headed for a theatre degree in college so I could pursue singing, dancing and acting. However, my education also included a special skill. I was really good at Chinese. I started in 7th grade, sort of as a fluke, and ended up really connecting with Mandarin – reading, writing, and speaking. By senior year of high school, I had passed out of AP Chinese and advanced to Chinese V.

My parents told me if I wanted to act, I should skip a theatre degree and start acting. I had contacts, I had training and they didn’t see the benefit of four years and tuition the price of a house to get a theatre degree. I understood where they were coming from, but I wanted a college degree. I excelled in school and I knew I would regret not going to college. The University of Southern California ended up recruiting me on an academic scholarship, and everything about their Chinese Language and Culture major felt right to me. I could major in that and minor in business and film to round out my education in international entertainment.

With China financing so many Hollywood productions, I felt these skills could give me an edge in the industry and help me stand out as an actress and eventually a producer. After all, Hollywood is a small town – only a couple of million in the industry, but China has over 1.3 billion people!

While my friends were drinking sangria across Spain, I spent my junior year of college studying abroad in Shanghai. WOW – it was amazing and a huge challenge. It expanded my global perspective beyond anything I could have imagined. Now that I have graduated from USC, I am working at Lionsgate in TV Sales and Distribution, in addition to writing and acting on my own.

My goal is to combine my acting, producing and business skills to become a creative executive. It won’t happen overnight, but I am learning every aspect of the business and could not be more excited about the future!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The biggest struggle I have experienced is that I am a 24-year-old in Hollywood with huge aspirations to achieve things that fifty-year-olds are just achieving. I was always under the impression that as soon as you graduate from college, you have a job lined up and know exactly what you want to do and who you want to be. But, that isn’t true – the year after graduating is WEIRD, especially in entertainment. “Making it” in Hollywood requires patience, talent, and the right timing. I am laying the groundwork for my career right now, and I frequently need to remind myself of how much I have accomplished in the past five years, and how much more I will accomplish in the next five.

What else should we know?
I try to be honest in all of my work. My hope is to help shatter stereotypes about women – especially those attached to our looks. I know so many incredibly dynamic and interesting women who are sold short based on appearance. I would like to contribute to that dialogue. My best friend and I are working on a series of shorts about dating in Los Angeles because I think it is so important for more female writers, directors, and producers to create content.

Growing up, some of my favorite movies were written or directed by men. But now, incredible women are making movies like “Lady Bird” and “Booksmart”, which perfectly emulate my experience as a young woman – the awkward crushes, the social pressures of high school, the bumps you overcome in friendships – all of these experiences are normal, but I grew up watching movies where the guy saves the girl, or the girl finds love and that is what makes her happily ever after. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good rom-com. But, there are a lot of other endings that can make women fulfilled, and I’m seeing so much more diversity now that more women are telling the stories – they just connect on such a deeper level.

What advice would you give to someone at the start of her career?
Honestly, my biggest piece of advice to younger women is to find what makes you confident – work on your energy and your skills more than your appearance. We place so much importance on how we look and we’ve been programmed to believe it’s all that matters. The way to stand out is with your confidence, your attitude, your positive vibration and MAD SKILLS.

Do something that sets you apart. Take the road less traveled! Learn something special and be inspired by your girlfriends – rather than feeling like you are in competition with them. I am in awe of my friends and their talents – some with finance degrees, some artists, some in medicine, some filmmakers. I look at all of them and think one day, I’d like to have a company and hire you all to run it! Always remember that someone else’s success is not your loss. 🙂

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Image Credit:
Ashley Roberts Photography, AList Magazine

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