"You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore." - Christopher Columbus
When I waved goodbye to my family and left my loving home in North Carolina 15 years ago to move to Los Angeles, I truly didn’t have any idea what was in store for me. Even now as I look back on it, I can’t believe I did it. I didn’t have a job but I had an amazing friend who had found us an apartment and for some crazy reason, that felt like enough.
Though I had years of acting training and experience, as well as a passion for education, I still had no idea what the heck I wanted to do with my life. Did I wish to become a movie star? No, that never felt like my dream. Was I even aware of other careers that may be accessible to me across the country in one of the largest and most daunting cites in the world? Not at all. Did I wish to prove my independence, make a name for myself, make a difference in the world and take a huge risk? I didn’t know it at the time, but in retrospect, that was exactly it.
The first few months in LA were pretty horrible. I spent a handful of those early days in the big city wondering how I was going to make next month’s rent and contemplating if I had made a huge mistake.
Like many of us taking on a new challenging adventure in life, I considered throwing in the towel and heading back home. One of the first big lessons that I learned on this journey, however, was that usually when you are at your lowest is when you either pack up and go home or your determination kicks into high gear. Thankfully, my determination started kicking in and I began listening and following that fire inside me. I started asking myself 3 big questions:
1) What am I most passionate about right now?
2) How can I turn that passion into something I can do for a living?
3) Where do I want to be of service?
These questions started opening doors for me beyond anything I could have imagined. I started to figure out my path and goals, the kind of people I needed to be around and how I could give back. Since my background was in theatre, my goal was to be a part of the theatre community in LA and I hit the jackpot with a company called Circle X. I wanted to get experience working in the film industry and before I knew it I found myself working on set with the likes of Jack Nicholson, Amanda Peet and Diane Keaton, and landing a crew position and small role on the popular TV show “Arrested Development” as Henry Winkler’s girlfriend (dreams do come true!)
While working on “Arrested Development” I began to realize that I enjoyed working behind the camera much more than I enjoyed being in the limelight. About that time, as luck would have it, I met some of the most talented filmmakers in town and they asked me to produce and star in their first feature film. I had found it! Producing was my calling and throughout the rest of my time in LA, I worked in production and as a Producer for a variety of different projects. This helped reignite my desire, and provided opportunities, to work from the heart and lead projects that were going to make a difference in the world. My passion had become protecting the environment and I eventually landed a job working with an innovative company called EcoSet Consulting whose mission is to lower the negative environmental impact that commercial sets and events can have on the planet. These would prove to be some of the most rewarding years of my life.
After 14 years of building a life in the City of Angels, I realized I was outgrowing LA and was longing to be closer to my family. I wanted to take my experiences and what I learned and put them to use in a community where I could really make a difference. Around this same time I just so happened to meet my partner, Paul, and thus began my transition to life on the East Coast. We wished to settle somewhere that could serve all of our professional needs, while also being part of building a meaningful community.
Little did we know that he would land a job in Mobile, Alabama as the Assistant Professor of Acting and Voice at The University Of South Alabama, and that all those wishes would come true for us in the South (or as one of my colleagues refers to as “the other LA”).
Mobile is exactly what we were looking for and I had no idea that a dream job at Mobile Baykeeper would open up. I feel so lucky to be working at an organization that walks the talk and is so respected in the community. We are able to make a difference, engage with a diverse community, protect these amazing natural resources, host events and educate the public to bring awareness to the area.
I am falling in love with this city and its people. We have been so welcomed and my hopes of settling someplace that would give me the opportunity to be a voice and get heavily involved in the community are exceeding my expectations. Monthly Art Walks, Green Drinks, walking into The Exchange 202 (looks like a space right out of LA or NYC), listening to great music, dining at amazing restaurants, and enjoying the beautiful scenery have all been reasons for me to look back at Los Angeles and say...
you may have hollywood, but mobile has mardi Gras!
I’ve learned that any success that I’ve ever found in life has come from building and cultivating relationships. Every job I ever landed came from someone recommending me or from a meeting that suddenly turned into… “Are you looking for a job?” Talent, education, and intelligence go a long way when trying to make a name for yourself, but being kind, compassionate, and caring about what you do and the people you are with are equally (if not more) important attributes to building a rewarding career. Once I fully started to grasp this, my eyes were opened to a whole new world of possibilities, and the proverbial doors started to open. One opportunity naturally led me to the next and I found myself meeting all the right people along my journey, while striving to maintain a balance of hard work, authenticity and generosity.
Oh there were struggles (there always are…lots of them!), but each struggle led me closer to living this life that I love and I am grateful for it all.
- Jamie Bullock, Education & Outreach Coordinator