Can I tell you a secret?
I was avoiding going to see La La Land.
And not because I didn’t think I’d enjoy it. In fact, it’s totally my kind of movie. A musical starring two of my favorite actors – clearly a winner. But I was scared.
I was scared because I am getting ready to leave the real La La Land, and I thought it might hurt. A film that I’ve heard described as a love letter to LA. A film showcasing some of the most beautiful locations in Los Angeles. A film about aspiring artists, struggle in the City of Angels, creativity, hope, and finding your own way. A film that just might tug at the heart strings of a girl who tried to give La La Land her best.
And I was right. It was beautiful, it was my kind of movie, and it broke my heart.
I have to give it up for Damien Chazelle and the creators of this gorgeous film because they nailed it. They told my story. The story of every actor who came to LA with a dream – every interrupted audition, every draining day job, every frustrating minute stuck in traffic, every awkward moment trying to promote yourself, every rude question about what you are doing with your life, every ounce of doubt that makes you think “maybe I’m not good enough,” every YES that just might change your life. It’s exhausting! It’s exhilarating! It’s Los Angeles.
And I’m leaving it behind.
After almost five years, the allure of LA has dimmed, and I realized I was ready to move on. But then this movie ignited some of the old excitement. It made me question my choices. It made me wonder if I truly gave it all I had. Total gut punch. No one likes to question their decisions once they’ve already been made, right?
But I’ve been doing it – reassessing, going over all the options. Driving myself mad. But you know what? The same truths that brought me to the original decision to leave… they’re still true. I love the idea of LA. The real LA? It’s not the same thing. It’s easy to romanticize, sure. Like in a gorgeous movie musical that looks like a glorious dream sequence from one of the classics. (Good job, Mr. Chazelle.) But it’s not the reality, it’s not what it feels like day to day. Truthfully, I never fell in love with Los Angeles, the city. I loved things about it… good friends, the gorgeous view of the San Fernando Valley from Universal that will forever be etched in my mind, passing movie studios every day on my way to work… at a movie studio, new opportunities to explore all the time. There is a lot to enjoy. But it never really became my home. And as much as I love adventure, I also need home. I want both.
So, we are closing this chapter. And it’s bittersweet. But just because I’m leaving LA doesn’t mean I am leaving my dreams here too. They have grown, expanded, shifted. Yes, I still want to be an actress. That will never change. But I want to get back to my roots – the stage. I want a fantastic theatre community where I can invest myself. A place where I might truly be able to impact people. I also know the Southern market for film and television is booming. Hollywood is not just in Hollywood anymore – not really. So, I can keep looking for my shot. Even more, I want to focus on relationships, family, community, and the things that were made so much more challenging in LA. Quality of life. I want to thrive instead just surviving. And Nashville feels like the perfect place to do it. How exciting!
I might be leaving the City of Stars, but it will always be a part of me, a risk I’ll never regret taking. And maybe one day we will be back, but for now I will just be thankful for the opportunities, experiences, and even grander capacity for dreaming that I found in La La Land.