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Rising Stars: Meet Lily Sewell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lily Sewell.

Hi Lily, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I grew up in Pineville, a small town in Louisiana where I was born into a musical family and basically raised on the stage. From the time I could remember, I wanted to be an actress. My family was involved in community theatre my whole life as well as performing at church. We did shows together such as Oliver and Sound of Music, even being known as the “Von Sewells” around town. Even when we weren’t performing on stage, we would be putting on shows for my parents, doing skits at the dinner table, or singing around the piano. I don’t think there was ever a year where I wasn’t doing something creative whether I was in dance, piano, and theatre class or all three at the same time. The theatre was my happy place. I knew I wanted and needed to act for the rest of my life. I went to college at Louisiana State University and received a bachelor’s degree in communication studies. I wanted to major in acting but my parents advised that it would be best if I had a backup plan. I continued to perform in musicals and shows through the LSU Musical Threatre Club and community theatre. During college, I started focusing on film and TV acting over theatre and secured an agent my junior year.

Through the agency, I began taking scene study classes and audition technique classes in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. It was during this time that I was exposed to the Meisner Technique, and I knew that was the right fit for me. After graduation, I worked as my agent’s assistant and learned other aspects about the industry that only made me love it more. The southeast film industry has really exploded the past couple of years so I had to decide if I wanted to pursue acting in New Orleans/Atlanta or make the big move to Los Angeles. I had visited LA in 2018 while I was still in college and starting crying the moment I stepped off the plane. Yes, this was as dramatic as it sounds, but there’s such a creative energy in this city that is palpable and exciting. I was besotted by everything from the Warner Bros. lot to the stars on Hollywood Blvd. That trip, I did the Oscar tour at the Dolby Theatre and stood on the stage and felt that I would be on that stage in seven years, the context remains unknown, but I know I will be. Sounds very silly, but it was that feeling that keeps me motivated and jump-started my moving plans. The acting classes in New Orleans were beneficial and necessary but I really wanted to learn the craft and have a strong foundation. Having realized that the Meisner Technique worked best for me, I looked into Meisner studios in Los Angeles and came across the Baron Brown Studio in Santa Monica. I interviewed for it, joined the September classes and in August 2019, I made the move to Los Angeles!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Absolutely not! At the time of my move, my parents had just relocated to Orlando so the timing was not ideal, and we were all extremely stressed and overwhelmed. Luckily for me, I am beyond blessed to have the most supportive and wonderful parents who took a portion of what they got from selling their home to move their only girl across the country. Cost of living in Louisiana is very cheap and I was very comfortable surrounded by family and friends, so when I moved to my tiny apartment in Koreatown having two best friends in town, it was quite the adjustment. I had my acting classes lined up and paid for but hadn’t been able to secure a job. I had expectations of getting a nice paying corporate job within two weeks of moving here, but those were extinguished very quickly when I realized most jobs required 3-5 years of experience I didn’t have. I applied to 100+ jobs and received two rejection responses. I finally was able to get a job through a temp agency and two days after I started my first job, I was let go. Then I got another job through the agency that would stick with me for months. To supplement my income from the temp job, I was working four other jobs, some days waking up at 3 am to tutor international children and not getting home until after midnight from a catering gig.

And even with all those jobs, I still couldn’t financially afford to live here without help. But it was during these struggles that I had to let go of expectations and fully trust God to provide, which He always did. And I am extremely privileged that I had parents who were there to support me when I couldn’t make ends meet when I know so many others who don’t have that. I definitely was not prepared for how expensive it is to live here. In December 2019, I finally was able to secure a job that made me financially independent. When Covid-19 first broke out in March 2020, I went back to Louisiana and Florida for four months. Fortunately, I was able to work remotely and resume my acting classes on Zoom while also getting to reconnect and spend valuable time with family and friends. It was the restart I definitely needed. I came back to LA in August 2020 feeling ready to tackle it again! Moving is uncomfortable. I was extremely homesick and lonely. It’s been very challenging to find a Christian community and make friends. But in spending so much time with myself, I’ve been fortunate to grow closer in my relationship to God and figure out who I am and who He created me to be. Every day presents challenges that grow and teach me to fall forward. Looking back, I’m proud to have continued through the setbacks and challenges and it makes the successes all the more rewarding!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am an actress. I have always had a zest for life and am so curious to learn about everything. And I’ve always felt emotions deeply and acting lets me channel and release them. Life is short and with acting, you get to live many different lives through the characters you play and I just love it! My dream is to be a working actress where I can fully support myself through acting. Acting is a form of worship to me. God has given me this gift/passion and when I use it, I get to express my gratitude for it and use it for His glory. Right now, I’m focused on my training and building that foundation. It is easy for me to look at others auditioning and to feel like I’m behind, but everybody’s journey is different and I trust God’s timing. My acting class is twice a week at the Baron Brown Studio and my program ends in July. I have absolutely loved the program and feel so blessed to have been lead to it. I’m proud of myself for continuing on this hard journey and I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

How can people work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
I love connecting with other artists and having a support system to keep pushing me when motivation is slow and vice versa. Anytime anyone wants to create material or just brainstorm or even discuss all that we go through in this industry, it brings me joy and I fully embrace it!

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