Getting The Last Laugh: How One Woman Turned A Stereotype into Success

via @andreavicunia

via @andreavicunia

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” - Eleanor Roosevelt.

This quote was hanging in my room since I was 12 and saw it in a book in my Shakespeare class. I believe in this dream and it has taken me in the most unexpected journey.

I didn’t think acting was a realistic job so to my dad’s outrage I decided to pursue a Bachelor in Fine Arts, painting and sculpting. It wasn’t until two years later, a theatre casting call and my insistent friend Inigo that I decided to pursue acting. It was love at first sight, and painting became that ex that sometimes texts you.

I studied Shakespeare, Chekhov, Cervantes, Vallejo; performed in Theaters all around Madrid, Spain; and starred in a beautiful series called Libres. I was about to start rehearsals for a theatre play when I was granted a Full-Scholarship for an Acting School in Los Angeles: TVI Actor’s Studio. I was in LA a 15 days later and already saw the Oscar in my hand!

Until - I opened my mouth on the first day of class and it went something like this:

“Your accent is so cute!” I turned around and nobody was behind me. I realized she was talking to me. “I don’t have an accent, I went to a British School” “You’re so funny”

Since that day I realized I wasn’t the person I thought. I was now a “Latina”. So my playground had been reduced to “sexy”, “slutty”, “stupid”, “MAID”, “STRIPPER 3”, “THE MISTRESS”, “HOOKER”, etc. For the longest time I would be upset at this, would want to fight it and slowly but surely: I became frustrated at my passion. I would constantly complain about it to people, I would not go to auditions that I didn’t like and my focus would be on the problem and not the solution.

I tried to leave several times, just pack my things and run. Always something would drag me back to LA so I knew there was something for me to do here. I started to realize that people would laugh at the way I expressed myself, like when I got angry and when I wouldn’t understand certain American human behaviors. One day a guy asked me “Have you tried stand up? You would be amazing.”

I went home and Googled it and found a club where on your first time you would get a free cookie. I was there two days later. It was liberating and empowering, and suddenly any problem I had became a great source of material. I walked around with my little notebook, writing things down and laughing by myself. Breakups, angry yoga teachers, weird auditions, racist comments; it became so much fun to be involved in this industry. I didn’t realize the mental shift but something did change because I started booking many things.

I still wasn’t happy with the roles I was offered so I decided to start filming my own scripts, sketches and vines. My head was too distracted creating to complain. Being creative and constantly acting, writing, editing, etc. had my skills trained constantly and ready to work. More opportunities kept coming in.

For my Spanish fellow actors I would be a hero, a frustrated hero, but still one. So my colleague Miguel contacted me and proposed that I wrote a script and he would find the way to produce it. I spent the following summer in Spain filming my own script with a pretty big team. I got a taste of what it means to be in a power position and learnt so much about the “other side”. LA called again, so I flew back!

At some point I would be working full-time, doing stand up at night, filming sketches on my free days and taking Muay Thai classes any second I could. I realized I was running short on time and not really focusing on what I came to do: act. So I decided to quit my day job and it’s the best decision I ever made.

I’ve been living off of acting gigs for the past year, which is unbelievable. It seems that when you put your attention on what you need to, you will be uncomfortable but you won’t starve. What makes it all worth it? The opportunities have sky rocketed and now I feel in charge of my career, instead of waiting for someones OK.

Since this decision: I was able to perform Stand Up at The World’s Famous Comedy Store, film my script “Stereotyped” inside Warner Bros. Studios in LA thanks to AT&T selecting my script in their SHAPE convention, “Something is Off” created by my creative partner Luca Nicora and me won “Best Movie created in a Mobile Device” at AT&T’s Create-a-thon (and 500$) and now I’m flying to Chicago because Women in Comedy selected my script to be filmed there. I will let you guys know how that goes!

“Follow your dreams and screw stereotypes” by me. (I hope some young girl hangs that in their bedroom).

Andrea Vicunia is an actress and filmmaker living in LA. Follow Andrea on Instagram here

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