Tag Archives: actor life

La La Land

11 Jan

Can I tell you a secret? 

I was avoiding going to see La La Land.

I know.

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. 

Favorite Five Friday (151st Edition)

15 Jul

I have some catching up to do this week. There’s a lot of good things happening…


1. I didn’t post last Friday because there was so much happening in the world… Posting about the little moments in my life didn’t seem important while there was so much tragedy. But I’ve also come to realize there are always going to be hard things happening in the world. That doesn’t mean we stop living. But it does mean we take a look around and see what we can do to help. I’m still looking for ways to step up, but here’s a few of my thoughts on current events in a post from earlier this week: Speaks To Me Sunday.

2. We had a magical time at the Hollywood Bowl last week! The LA Philharmonic gorgeously played the orchestration along to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It was such a fun way to watch the film! The live music was perfection, and the night was only made better by sharing it with our friends. Definitely an evening for the memory books.

3. We started a new acting class this month! We are focusing on commercial for the next few weeks with the fabulous Laurie Records. One class in, and I’ve already learned so much. I can’t wait to get out there and apply my newly acquired knowledge.

4.  My big brother turned 30 last week! I wish we could have been there to celebrate with him, but I am totally proud of the gift I sent. Remember the old view finders where you could see little pictures through the lense? Usually from a Disney movie. Jeremy and I loved those as kids. Recently a friend told me about a place where I could have one made from my own pictures. I loved putting together a few of my favorite photos of us to make this a really special gift. Jer, you have worked so hard to get to where you are! You deserve every special and good thing coming your way.

5. We completed the Whole30! 30 days of eating only the good stuff, and we feel great. (From my Instagram:) Here are a few of the benefits we’ve experienced: we are using our time more wisely, we are spending more time together, we are successful meal planners, we are not reliant on coffee or sugar, we are learning lots about the foods we do and don’t want to consume, we are trying new things, we are becoming better cooks, we are saving money by not going out to eat, we are fitting better in our clothes, we are feeling more alert and more energized, and yep, we lost weight too. It’s been an amazing experience, but it’s not over yet. Yes, I’m excited to try adding back in a glass of wine, some cheese, and delicious bread… But all in good time. And all in moderation and in control. We are heading into reintroduction feeling empowered, and we cannot recommend the Whole30 enough.

Before (L) & After (R)

Together we lost a total of 20.6 pounds & 22 1/2 inches.

Happy Friday!

Favorite Five Friday (143rd Edition)

15 Apr

Heya Friday. Still trying to get back to normal after a crazy, wonderful time last week. Normal feels pretty good too…


1.  Slowing down and resting was essential this week. I had to go back to giving myself permission to relax. I’m so thankful for the couple days off I had with Dan so we could recuperate. I’m still feeling a little bit like I just got back from a trip (you know that tired feeling?). I would love some new ideas to relax! Some “me time.” Any suggestions?

2.  Happy to have worked another Tour Guide Open Call open call this week! More fabulous folks becoming part of the Tramily. I love feeling their energy and enthusiasm… It’s the perfect reminder of how lucky I am to have this job.  

3.  Being back in acting class is wonderfully uncomfortable. It’s certainly the kick in the butt I needed. As an actor, it’s important to keep working those muscles. Right now, it’s been a little while since I’ve been in a class… I’ll be honest, my muscles are feeling a little weak. Working them out right now is a bit uncomfortable,  but I know it’s making me stronger.

4.  Cats. They are insane, trouble-making monsters. But, man… They are adorable. Can’t help but love them. 


Yes, she is hugging my head.

 5.  As of last night, I am caught up on the most recent episode of Dr. Who. I guess that makes me an official Whovian. Pretty safe to say that the show lives up to the hype for me. I already miss it. It took me a while, but now I know! I’m Joanna, and I love Dr. Who. 

Happy Friday, guys!

Favorite Five Friday (142nd Edition)

8 Apr

This has been an epic week for me. Truly so many amazing things have happened. Unfortunately, I am unable to share all of them, but I’ll tell you what I can!


1.  I booked a job! I got to spend some time on the set of a well known television show this week… I can’t tell you which one… Yet. Guys, I had an amazing time. This was also my first job! My first role on TV. I am completely ecstatic about it! I loved being on set, and I really learned a lot from my experience. I am so ready for more.  I’ll keep you posted on when and where you can see me!

  2. I am back in acting class! I had a great experience bringing Casting Director, Matthew Barry, to Universal to do a workshop with the guides. This guy knows his stuff. From there I found out he teaches a class, and I knew I had to give it a shot. It was almost strange being back in a class setting, but I really enjoyed it. And it’s certainly a great thing to add to my resume. My plan is to dig in, work hard, and become a better actor.
3. This week included some favorite things like… Time with friends (& being ridiculous on SnapChat: @JoannaNichole26), manicures, and kitties! Here are pictures of those things:

 4. Family vacation! Dan and I are heading to Orlando this September for Universal Studios Orlando and Disney World! (Because apparently we don’t get enough of those here at home. 😉 haha!) We are super stoked to head some place new, have some adventures, and relax a little too. (Sidenote: watching Dan plan for vacations is one of my favorite things. He is so detailed and gets really excited about all the things we will be doing. It’s adorable.) Look out, Orlando! #OhThoseHackmans are coming for you!

5. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood is officially open! I spent the majority of this week working all of the opening events. I stood in wonder as I watched the incomparable John Williams conduct the L.A. Philharmonic in gorgeous renditions of his masterful compositions for the Harry Potter films and saw the castle brought to life with intricate projections and stunning fireworks (Yes, I cried a little). I had the privilege to work with the talent and witness as they graciously met fans and enthusiastically shared their experiences. (These amazing actors showed me exactly who I’d like to be should I ever find myself stepping into success like theirs.) I was covered in goosebumps and confetti as the Wizarding World Hollywood was officially declared to be open! And I still have a grin on my face. I feel so truly blessed to have been a small part of something so huge, so impactful. It means more than I can say, and I will treasure these memories for the rest of my life. So, welcome to Hollywood, Harry! And to those of you ready to come visit… “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” (Gosh, J.K. Rowling is the best.) It’s pretty safe to say, mischief managed.


 Happiest of Friday’s!!!

Favorite Five Friday (137th Edition)

26 Feb

Oh, Friday… Here we are again! A few of the best moments this week…


1.  We needed to squeeze in some Disney time during February, and apparently we picked the right time to go! The lines weren’t very long and we got to ride all our favorites. I love Disney days where you can just casually stroll from one land to another. It’s also even better when your friends are there too! We finished up the night with dinner and drinks at Cove Bar, some icecream, and a great view of the fireworks from the parking structure (who knew?!). I love you, Disney.  

2. Some of my favorite ladies were born in February! I love getting to celebrate them. One of my favorite ways to do that is posting pictures and looking back at our memories together. Cheers to another year!

3.  And speaking of cheers… I’ll drink a Butterbeer to that! 😉 The VIP Guides have been training to bring guests into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter once we officially open on April 7th! Guys… It’s super magical. I just can’t get over it.

4. Over the last couple months I’ve had the privilege of bringing some amazing guests to speak to our guides at Universal. One of the amazing perks of my job is the workshops and seminars that can be offered. It’s been really exciting to become a part of it – communicating with our industry guests, hosting the events, and (hopefully) creating some connections for our guides. My job is so cool.

5. And it’s been a while since I’ve posted about them on here, but you should know they are always one of the best parts of my week!


I hope your week was awesome and the next is even better!

Happy Friday!   

Favorite Five Friday (135th Edition)

5 Feb

Hello again, Friday! I hope you’ve had a fabulous week. Here’s a peek at mine…


1. It’s that time again. We are hiring new guides for the World Famous Universal Studio Tour. I love getting to be part of this journey for these new guides. The beginning is so exciting, and I love feeling that energy from them. It always reminds me how lucky I am to have this job and to be a part of the tramily.

2.  More hiking! Dan and I took a great little hike in Burbank – it was great. I love being active and getting fit with my husband. I think it’s pretty cool that we can do that together.

3.  My beautiful niece turned NINE this week! I can’t even believe that’s possible. She is smart, spunky, and silly. I love getting to know her as she grows and changes. She is very into music so last year I made her a mix CD of some of my favorite songs, songs I thought she’d like. Well, apparently it was a hit because this year she asked me for another one. 🙂 I love having this connection with her and getting to make her something special.

4. My mom is the cutest. And a total fashionista. She sent me this gorgeous coat as an early Valentine’s Day gift. I’ve already worn it three times. Thanks mama!

5.  The Oscars are coming! This week we were on set for Best Picture: The Musical. For the third year in a row, we give you a fun rundown of each of the Best Picture nominees. In musical form, of course. This year I’m playing Rachel McAdams/Sacha Pfieffer from Spotlight. (Are you kidding me?! Dreams come true. I love her so much.) Here’s a few shots from my section:


Stay tuned for the video! It’s coming soon!!

Happy Friday, one and all!

Favorite Five Friday (129th Edition)

20 Nov

It’s Friday! And November is more than halfway through… what?! Am I the only one blown away by that? More to do before 2015 comes to an end! Here’s what I did this week…


1.  This quote has been making me laugh all week… I wrote about it in my last Speaks To Me Sunday post. I’m pretty sure it’s one of those things that’s really funny because it’s true. Mom always knows. She’s the best.


2.  Disney with some of our favorite folks! It’s always a good day at Disney. It’s an even better day when they give you free stuff because you have an annual pass!


3.  NBCUniversal’s 30th Annual Actors Showcase finally arrived! We all worked so hard for the last eight or so weeks, and it was about time we got to show our stuff. We had such a fabulous time! The cast was unbelievably talented. On top of that, the scenes were all written by a few members of the cast. All original works written for the performers. That’s pretty special. We had a fantastic turn out, and we all did our best. Fingers crossed the work starts coming our way – congratulations to all of my cast mates! So thrilled to have been a part of this experience.

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4.  Movie date night with the besties – really enjoyed The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. It’s hard to believe that series has finally come to a close. I feel like they created some really strong film versions of a fascinating book trilogy. It just made me want to go back and read the series again. Whenever I finish all the Outlander books, of course. (I’m on book 6 for anyone keeping track 😉 Still a little obsessed.) Also, Jennifer Lawrence is awesome.

5.  My cats are vicious predators…


You best watch yourself, Mr. Fly.

Hey! Happy Friday to you! And Have a great Thanksgiving week!

Favorite Five Friday (119th Edition) 

10 Jul

Friday has almost come and gone! This week was pretty great…


1.  Dan and I both had the opportunity to take roles in a short film this week! We have met some wonderful, talented people in our time at Universal – a few such folks were putting together a fun short revolving around marriage proposals. Dan and I are thrilled to be involved! It was so great to get in front of the camera and have a blast! This is why we’re here. It feels good. Can’t wait for you all to see it! Keep an eye out for posts about “Before I Met You.”

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2.  Happy Birthday to my super cool big bro! All I ever wanted was to be his friend. I’m glad that dream came true. 🙂 Jer, I love being your little sis. I’m proud of all you’ve accomplished and can’t wait to see what’s to come in this next year. I only wish I was there to celebrate with you! 

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3.  Nashville seems to be heading to Cali! This week I got to have lunch with two of the best gals I know from my Belmont days. It was so refreshing to catch up and spend time together. Exactly what I needed. I feel so blessed to have made such wonderful friends and to reconnect with them thousands of miles away from where we began. (Sidenote: if you haven’t been to Granville Cafe in Burbank, check it out. So delicious!)

4.  Guys. I love being a cat mom. And I love seeing Dan as a cat dad. It’s kind of the best. Plus, my heart melts on a daily basis. Having pets is good for the soul… I’m pretty sure that’s a fact.

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5.  Game night with friends is always a good time. Honestly, this is something that happens pretty regularly in my life, and that’s seriously awesome. I just love my people. Feeling thankful tonight.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Happy Friday! 

Favorite Five Friday (118th Edition) 

26 Jun

Another Friday is here! Can you believe it? And with it another edition of…


1.  We celebrated Father’s Day this last week. Pretty sure I’ve got one of the best dads around. Check out my Speaks To Me Sunday post about my Dad.


2.  Happy Birthday, Meryl Streep! There is a reason that everyone knows her name and praises her work. She is an incredible artist, and I admire her so much. One of my biggest, scariest dreams is to work with her one day. But honestly, I’d also just love to have a conversation with her. She fascinates me. Go celebrate by watching your favorite Meryl movie!


3.  Girls Night is a necessary part of life.  I crave time just to spend with my girlfriends – decompressing, sharing, laughing. We always have a good time. So thankful to have such awesome girls to do life with.

4.  We have officially raced into summer here at Universal Studios Hollywood with the opening of Fast & Furious: Supercharged – the new grand finale of The Studio Tour. It’s gonna be a Supercharged summer here a The Strangest Place on Earth! C’mon out and join us!

5.  Jack got a sister this week! We brought home little Liz Lemon (or just Lemon) and she is already bringing so much sunshine to our lives. She is super sweet, but has no problem keeping up with Jack. They are still figuring each other out, and we are having a great time watching! Two kittens are pretty hilarious. We love being cat parents.




Happy Friday, beautiful people!

Favorite Five Friday (116th Edition)

12 Jun

FRIDAY! It’s here. 🙂 But before that…


1.  Guys, I have to give a shout out to my GPS. Really any GPS system… I am directionally challenged to begin with, but living in L.A. is a whole other story. I have been driving all over the place for auditions this last week (Whoo hoo!), and I would have gotten lost several times without it. You know when you move and you have to get used to your new area? And how to get to and from there? That’s still what I’m experiencing. So, I just had to say I love technology and my GPS.

2.  I am a proud trainer! My “kids” tested this week and we are bringing on about 35 new guides. It has been so fun seeing all of their posts/pictures in uniform and with their new name tags. That fresh excitement is exactly what we need around here as we head into a busy summer season. Congratulations, guys! Welcome to the Tramily.

3.  One of the reasons we are about to get busy is because we racing toward a Supercharged Summer! Universal has added in a new element to the Studio Tour where you are thrown into a high-speed chase with Dom, Letty, and the Fast & Furious crew. This week we had an employee preview event for the new attraction. I love working for a company that wants all of its employees to see the theme park elements first hand. They treat us to dinner, have fun activities (photo booth, anyone?), and give us free t-shirts! We had a pretty great night. I’m excited to share Fast & Furious: Supercharged with the rest of the world. Come check it out this summer!


4.  I hate to write about this here because it is not a favorite thing… But I need to share. After bringing home our two beautiful kittens, one of them stopped eating. We took Jim to the vet only to find out that he had a very serious and fatal disease. Dan and I were and are absolutely heartbroken to have lost Jim, especially so soon. We are so grateful to the wonderful people in our lives who have been lifting us up and showering us with love and support. It was exactly what we needed. The best news to come out of this is that our little Jack is healthy. We had the vet (who is an amazing woman) do essentially every test there was… all came back clear. Of course, we are watching him closely and prepared for more check ups, but we are so relieved. It’s amazing how fast you can fall in love with these little guys. This is one of the hardest things Dan and I have been through together, but I am so thankful we have each other.


5.  Speaking of… today is my 5th wedding anniversary! I can’t tell you how strange it is to say that. 5 whole years have come and gone since I became Mrs. Hackman. It’s unreal. Actually, it’s pretty great. My husband is my favorite person on the planet. He is hilarious and makes me laugh constantly. He encourages me, challenges me, and supports my dreams. He works hard at everything he does. He is one of the most generous people I have ever met. He likes to keep things clean and organized as much as I do. He loves to surprise me with gifts. He tells me how beautiful I am every day. He makes me feel like me… the very best version of me. He loves me through it all. I don’t know what the next 5 years will hold, but it doesn’t matter. Just knowing we will face it together is enough. Daniel, I am childishly in love with you. I always will be. Happy 5 years! Here’s to (at least) 50 more!

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Oh, Happy Friday!