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10 foolproof strategies to definitely, maybe make it in Hollywood

by Jessica Cabot

All the time young college students who don’t know any better are asking me, “Hey, Jessica, how do I make it in the entertainment industry? How can I get a job as a writer’s assistant like the one you used to have?” I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a lot of help along the way on my career journey. It’s the least I can do to pay it forward and divulge my insider industry secrets.

As such, the following are my top ten pieces of advice for people who aspire to be more like me and waste their lives pursuing delusional pipe dreams:

1. BE NICE? – People are always complaining that everyone here is a jerk, so if you’re nice you’ll probably stand out. Standing out is good.

2. BE (OVERLY) CONFIDENT – There are too many other people trying to do this. Your chances of success are insanely small. There is a high likelihood that you will fail. As such, nurture your delusions. There will be an infinite amount of times you will want to give up and probably should give up, but don’t.

3. LOSE YOUR DIGNITY – Rejection is par for the course. Forget about concepts like “shame” or “respect”. If you can’t laugh at yourself and care too much about what everyone else thinks, you’re doomed. Judgment runs rampant in Hollywood so the sooner you can degrade yourself willingly and not let it bother you, the better.

4. DO A BAD JOB AT YOUR DATA ENTRY GIG – Instead of being productive at my old data entry job, I tweeted a lot of jokes. Those jokes helped me connect with a guy who happened to know one of the writers at Weeds. They were looking for a writer’s assistant. So don’t invest too much of your energy in soul-sucking endeavors when your heart is telling you to procrastinate and tweet a lot. (See #10)

5. DRINK A LOT – Networking is important. Everyone in Hollywood is a partier and will make grand promises of getting you an agent if you catch them at a time when they are wasted enough, which is most of the time. So develop your penchant for alcohol now.

6. NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU – I know you aspire to one day be the host of The Joe Schmo Show, but bulldozing and sabotaging anyone you perceive as a threat to your own self-indulgent ego-fest isn’t a great idea. Accept that no one really cares about you right now, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, and just do good work. Then maybe the fans will come organically.

7. FIND PEOPLE YOU ENJOY USING – The sooner you can find the people you want to collaborate with and genuinely support them in their dreams – the sooner you’ll find the ones who will come up with you to support your dreams. In a way you can think of it as developing friendships with people you like, that way when you both use each other it actually feels fun, enjoyable, and rewarding.

8. THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY IS VERY IMPORTANT – This is really serious work that matters a lot, so definitely beat yourself up all the time if you don’t think you’re doing a good enough job and definitely don’t have any fun while you’re pursuing the thing you love. If you can be stressed out all the time and anxious about your performances, that will probably help get the creative juices flowing so that you can be a machine that cranks out scripts and books auditions.

9. DON’T LISTEN TO ANYONE – Everyone in Hollywood is crazy, so don’t listen to anyone. Everyone will have a million opinions and top ten pieces of advice to give you on how to make it, but no one really knows. Everyone’s path is different. There are dogs on YouTube more famous and successful than I am, so at the end of the day, you have to find the path that is right for you, and maybe no one has been down it before so you have to pave the way.

10. FOLLOW YOUR HEART, UGH – Despite all my previous sarcasm, this is something I truly believe. This is a tough career path. It’s unstable, unpredictable, nothing is guaranteed, and you will always wonder why that guy you’re clearly more talented than makes a bazillion dollars while you just wrapped a hot dog in a taco shell because you are too poor to eat. You have to do this because you love the process, you are passionate about your ideas, and you want to connect with others who care about the same things. This career can’t be about money or fame or prestige because even if you get those things, you will still be left with whomever you are inside, and you’ll realize that your jaunt down the red carpet didn’t fix your dad issues. Joan Rivers once said, “this isn’t a career, it’s a calling.” I believe it. If you have been called to the fine pursuit of struggling for years until you finally make a difference in our cultural zeitgeist, then ABSOLUTELY follow your heart and do nothing less than projects that excite and inspire you – because that’s the only reason to do any of this in the first place.

I hope that those even younger and less informed than I am find this helpful and inspiring. If you heed my advice, work hard, and are kind, amazing things will happen (pretty sure Conan never copyrighted that gem. Anyway, it’s something that I also thought of independently).

Jessica Cabot

About Jessica Cabot

Jessica Cabot is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles who has worked for such notable TV programs as Web Therapy, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Weeds, and Wilfred. She hopes to one day change and inspire the world with her comedy, or at least be roasted on Comedy Central. Jessica even co-hosts a monthly comedy show at Bar Lubitsch as an intergalactic super model, Lady Sodium. Other than that she shares a birthday with Gary Busey. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacabot

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