Hollywood Revelation : I Don't Have to Die Here

If you know me or if you've been reading my story, then you'll know that I met God later in life. Around four years ago, on a trip to Cambodia with Eckhart Tolle's book in hand, I encountered my first glimpse of the divine. 

The experience came at a low point in my life which many Christians would refer to as 'the cross.' It's often the case that we find God when we've suffered all that we can bear and don't want to do it on our own anymore. We come to realize that we don't actually want things to go our way... because our way hasn't brought us the happiness we thought it would. 

The beautiful thing about coming to know God is that I feel myself growing in his love everyday. As a child raised by atheists, it's taken some time to open up to this process. Though I felt tremendously relieved after my first experience in Cambodia, there would be far more that I would learn and discover on my walk in the faith. 

For one thing, back then God was just an idea to me. It was the idea that there was a divine reason for everything, and that someone with a greater purpose was watching over me. Christians talk a lot about "having a personal relationship with Jesus" as something that's more than just believing in God, and not only did I not have a "personal relationship with Jesus," but if someone would have asked me that I would have thought they were crazy.

Did I believe that Jesus was sent to us from God? Yes, but not unlike some of the other great teachers like the Buddha or even Eckhart Tolle. And since God knew me intimately, the first church he took me to was a church for atheists. It was a beautiful community of loving people who sought wisdom from the life of Jesus, but who didn't seem to actually put their faith in Him. 

A couple of years after all of this I felt the call to pack up and move to Los Angeles. It wasn't out of nowhere but it was an idea I had in the back of my mind since I was a kid that I finally decided to act on. I think that having it in the back of my head for all of those years was subconsciously holding me back from moving forward in other areas of my life (like starting a family). So, just ahead of my thirtieth birthday I decided to take the plunge.

When I made that decision it felt like I had God's endorsement, because it seemed like everything was falling into place. It was always such a daunting idea... to be granted a work visa and move out of the country. But after I made the first call to my friend Lyndsay (who's also a believer) I found myself convicted. She had paved the way for me, by moving many years prior. She told me which lawyer to hire, how to get articles published in the media (one of the requirements for the O1-visa) and all the rest of the little details. 

Before I knew it I was on a moving train. I hired the lawyer, started to pack up all of my things, and my playlist consisted entirely of songs about moving to California. But during all of the excitement about a new life and a new start, a deep depression grew inside of me that never really went away. 

I mourned the life I was giving up; My cute neighborhood where I'd gone on hundreds of peaceful runs, the coffees on the balcony at my apartment. The parks in the middle of the city and my "walks of solitude" to the AGO. My family and my friends and the wonderful, comfortable career I'd worked at so many years.

The change and everything that went into it logistically, like gathering 800 pages of "evidence" about my employment status for immigration, was so overwhelming that I started to function in survival mode, which affected my relationships.

All of the beautiful things I had in my life started to seem like obstacles in the way of the goal I had. God helped me, but only in the assurance that my goals would be realized. Once I got started the idea of staying in Toronto became unfathomable to me. I became more and more narrow minded about the way my life was meant to go, and as this happened I felt like God was testing how much I really wanted it.

After I sold all of my furniture and gave up my house in Toronto, my American sponsor got a letter in the mail about how the evidence we submitted for my case was insufficient. The language they used was terrifying. It seemed like it wasn't going to happen after all. But instead of accepting it I decided to dig myself in deeper, hire a new, more expensive lawyer and then wait in limbo at my family's house in North Ontario.

When I did finally make it across the border into California, as God promised, after driving across the country with my life's possessions, I learned that the tenant of the house I was meant to move into was refusing to leave. She had just discovered her squatter's rights and was planning to exercise them. I would come to realize that this was a prevalent issue in California, given the housing crisis. 

I had no idea what I was going to do. It was dark outside, and I had been driving for twelve hours. I got closer and closer to the address until I was thirty minutes away and got the call that she was leaving. I'm not sure where she wound up going. 

Settling into my new home gave me a momentary peace. I could look up the palm-lined street from my house and see the Hollywood sign up in the hills, I enjoyed delightful walks through the neighborhood in the winter, I explored the Santa Monica mountains. 

I even got my first dream job a month after arriving. I remember feeling so high that I worried I was too high, that it was unsustainable. When I went to the bank to cash my very first paycheck, "bank juggers" followed me and broke into my car stealing my purse with my passport, the laptop I was using for work, and the wallet containing all of my Canadian credit cards and my drivers license. 

I had to cancel all of the cards and since I was in America with no identification, I had no way to access my accounts. I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic thinking that I would be kicked out of the country since I no longer had my passport with the visa stamp. I thought that I would have to go through the visa process all over again. 

Having that happen to me while I was away from my support system put me into such a state of fear that I was perpetually scared something was going to happen to my car. I worried that if I parked under a tree it would fall on it.  I had street parking and almost everyday when I went looking for it I thought that it was stolen. One day I was so convinced it was stolen that I called the police and then took a one hundred dollar cab out to Pomona to get to work. 

While I was working on my show I got the sense that something pretty bad was happening to the industry. I couldn't quite get a gauge on it because I was new in town, but I knew something was up when an Oscar-winning makeup artist told me I was lucky to be working, and another multi-emmy-winning makeup artist told me that she would come out and assist me. 

I stayed focused on work but as soon as the movie ended mid-march, Hollywood had come to a screeching halt in anticipation of the upcoming writers' strike. Everyone in town was freaking out. I had just gotten into the union here so I was making my rounds trying to introduce myself, and I was met with responses like, "I have only worked two days this year. It's not a good time to be reaching out right now."

At least I had a boyfriend. We rushed into a relationship because both of us were fresh to LA. We were looking to each other to be each other's saviors and soon found out that that was the only thing we had in common. I denied parts of myself out of fear of him leaving me, something that I never would have done while I was living in Toronto. I stopped going to church because it made him feel uncomfortable. When we broke up he left LA shortly after. 

So there I was alone, lost, and without any work prospects. There was no end in sight to the double Hollywood strikes - the actors went after the writers did. They would last a historically unprecedented 100 days, but the fallout lasted much longer. I have never known stress like that. 

Love your fate, which is in fact your life. Friedrich Nitzsche

Before I moved here, I was prepared for it to be hard. I told myself that I would do whatever it took. I came with savings thanks to a prosperous career in the Toronto film industry, and I had a house in Canada. I said that I would really do whatever it took, even if I had to sell the house. 

I clung to the hope that the industry would come back booming, and that it might even create the perfect opportunity for me as a newcomer. I reasoned that it would be so busy because of the backlog that there would be a surplus of jobs. When the strike officially ended in November, things were slower to start than any of us expected, except for the show that I used to work on in Toronto which started back to work immediately. 

We thought, it's too close to the winter holiday, the shows will come back in the new year. What a time to go on holiday. In the new year there was still nothing, so we said, in the second quarter it will be very busy. In the second quarter a few shows did start up, and I got the chance to work on the iconic Paramount lot, but the overall amount of shows shooting in LA is at the lowest it's been for thirty years. 

Some speculate that this is because of the potential upcoming IATSE/Teamsters strike on July 31. Some speculate that it's because the studios are revamping their business models - something they had plenty of time to assess over the strikes. Meanwhile, all of the productions under Hollywood studios have been shooting in other locations like New Mexico, Atlanta, Canada, Australia and Europe. 

One night before I went to bed I worried that I might not qualify for an additional three year work visa once this one ends. The O1-visa requires that I'm constantly upholding the same caliber of work, which I've not really had for a year and a half. I wondered if I would be in a position at the end of the year to hire lawyers again. 

Then, for the first time since I ever got it into my head to move to LA, a feeling of peace came over me. For the first time I considered, what if I don't? What if I don't get the visa again? And I move back to Toronto, and settle back into a place where I'm near to the friends and family that I love, and the place I had an amazing career. In Canada, where there's social security and free healthcare and less homelessness, less crime, and no guns. 

I never considered it before. It was always LA or bust, whatever it took. I've idolized being here for as long as I can remember. Even over the last year as I spent every night in the Bible and every morning in prayer, I never opened myself up to receiving God's voice if he gave me a "No." 

I was trying to bend God's will to support what I had in mind for my life, and how my ego pictured it. And then I finally realized just how insane that was. Why did I think that I knew best for my life, more than the God that created me?

When Jesus came to earth, he taught us how to pray. He taught us the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 "This then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven...'"

We are to pray for His will to be done, not our will! And why would he will for anything that's not right for us? Only he knows how our life is meant to look and who we're meant to become. 

I was baptized two months ago when I publicly declared that Jesus was my savior. He was the one who gave me hope. He gave me the perfect example of what love was, but I don't feel like I was "saved" by him until that night when I decided to fully trust Him.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, There is Freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17

No longer will I strive to make it in Hollywood 'at all costs.' Instead, I will wait to see what His plan is for my life. If I was brought here only to learn to value everything that I already had, I gladly accept the beauty in that. If all that I've gone through was simply an opportunity to draw me closer to Him, I gladly accept. Whatever he wants for my life I accept. 

And when I find myself in relationship with someone I think is meant for me, (like perhaps on account that they're Italian), I will ask God to remove them from my life if they're not what He has in mind. 

My friend Lyndsay, who's done so much to guide me in my faith, has always said to me, "give it to God." I remember when I was waiting for my visa determination back in North Ontario and she told me that when she was waiting for hers she spent that time in the Bible and putting her trust in God. When I first heard that I thought, that's so brave, but I would not accept a "no" from God on this matter. 

Now I know that He has been teaching me all of this time because He loves me. And I feel so much lighter and more confident and free knowing that I don't have to do it all myself. 

So, all of this to say; God, I love you, and I trust your purpose for my life. 

I might end up sticking around in LA, and I might not. 

Let thy will be done. 


If all of that sounded super weird to you, I understand. And I would recommend reading the Bible. I first started reading it purely out of curiosity back when I was still an atheist, eager to hear about what it was that Jesus actually said. I'm still making my way through the Bible now, four years later, after a long pause when I got to Deuteronomy (basically, there are pages and pages of lineage and instruction on how many days to stay out of the camp if you have leprosy). 

I picked it up again last summer in the middle of the strikes when Lyndsay sent me a new bible and told me to start reading at Matthew. Matthew marks the first of the four gospels in the New Testament, also known as "The Good News." It's the telling of the life of Jesus, and once you learn about Him, it puts the rest of the Bible into context. Just read it even for your own ding dong curiosity's sake, to see what the heck is really going on in there, and I dare you not to let it change your life. 

Books: A New Earth, The Bible


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