Something’s gotta give . . . making my way “Home Again”
by Amy Tipton
There are many meanings to this title: 1. The feeling of being completely lost and knowing you can only find your way by starting over at the very beginning. 2. Begrudgingly calling your mom for the most obvious advice. 3. The foundation and title of my television pilot.
This is a story of my journey: how I took my passion for helping others and found my place in this crazy industry we call show business.
A little back story . . .
I have been working in the film industry for 14 years. It all started when I was 18 years old, fresh out of high school and eager to be a superstar. I left Georgia and headed to the beautiful beaches of Wilmington, North Carolina. After a couple of years working on Dawson’s Creek as a stand-in, I had grandiose visions of stardom and was convinced I was ready to take on Hollywood. So, I did what any rational 20-something girl (with only $300 in her bank account) would do – I moved to Los Angeles.
My time in L.A. . . .
I worked a few temp jobs, did countless auditions and even worked some as a bona fide SAG actor. Imagine a life on set with the likes of Mark Harmon, John Travolta and even Robert Redford. It was awesome! Well . . . sort of. I was booking just enough acting jobs to keep me interested in the business, but not nearly enough to make a living.
Back in NC . . .
I decided to make a change. So, I moved back to NC to work behind the camera, in the art department to be exact. It was a perfect fit! Back in L.A., I had spent all of my free time volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, Girls, Inc and Peace 4 Kids. How did that help me, you ask? Every day I walked into my office armed with the experience of life on a construction site and knowing how to communicate with . . . well, pretty much anyone. So, that’s what I did. Buy construction materials. Track budgets. Clear artwork. Repeat. I loved it! I spent the next few years working in television on One Tree Hill, Playing With Guns, Revolution and now a feature called Tammy (with Melissa McCarthy and Kathy Bates). I spent my free time renovating my house, doing theatre, writing music, performing at USO shows and I never stopped volunteering.
The nature of the beast . . .
Everyone knows this business – you have to go where the work is. So, I took a job in Charlotte, NC. Though it is a great city, it sucked being stuck in a small apartment when I knew I had my cozy little house waiting for me back in Wilmington. I also had a really terrible boss (I will never name names) and I worked so many hours I didn’t have time to explore my new city or make any new friends. To top it off, we had a director who made it her goal to point out to me on a daily basis that I am in my 30’s and need to decide between career and family. According to her, a woman cannot, I repeat, cannot have both. So there I was – hating my current location, not happy with my boss and worried that I would never have a family. I kind of freaked.
I tossed and turned and prayed and cried . . . and then . . . I called my mom. I told her I was worried that I had made some bad decisions. That maybe I had given up on L.A. too soon. That I didn’t know if I would ever get married or have children if I stayed in this industry. She was great. She listened. She let me freak out. And then she calmed me down.
Momma knows best . . .
That night, my mother, in her infinite wisdom, asked me one question – a question that only I could answer and that held an answer that would change my life. “What makes you happy?” I thought long and hard about this question. And then it hit me – it wasn’t my location or my marital status or my job. It is a state of being. I am happy when I’m helping people. It’s as simple as that. Or is it? This created a new kind of freak out. I love entertaining people, but that doesn’t pay the mortgage. I love building Habitat houses, but that doesn’t pay the mortgage. I love performing for our troops and doing USO shows, but that doesn’t pay the mortgage. So, how does someone do what makes them truly happy and take care of their financial responsibilities?
Home Again . . .
Then it came to me. Create a television show where a group of volunteers come together to surprise active duty military personnel when they return from deployment with a home renovation! I spent months researching, writing script ideas, garnering support, buttering up my vendors for donations and interviewing families. Then I found the Murphys. They were a two Marine household (both Captains) with two small children. It was all falling into place. Support our troops. √. Show them and their families gratitude and acknowledge their sacrifice. √. Work in construction. √. Be creative. √. Entertain people. √. Bring the community together. √. And that is what I did.
On May 7th, 2013 with the help of Beth Crookham, Old School Rebuilders, countless local vendors and volunteers, we surprised and welcomed Captain Murphy home from deployment! Watching his family come together after almost a year apart made all of the blood, sweat, frustration and spilled paint worth it. I was so overwhelmed to see him hug his children and wife that I almost forgot we still had to show him the new addition on his house, the new shed, deck and awesome backyard! It was incredible! Simply, awe-inspiring.
Keeping it going . . .
We haven’t even completed our pilot and we already have people reaching and asking for help. Their stories are incredible and quite frankly, a bit overwhelming. I am honored to help these heroes and their families and pray we keep moving forward so we may help many, many more. But, now comes the hard part – choosing the “right” families for our show. How do you tell an 80 year old Korean War Veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient that he doesn’t meet your criteria? (I think I smell a spinoff!) I have never been more exhausted, more fulfilled or more proud in all my life!
Conclusion . . .
If you aren’t happy, do something about it. Get motivated. Create your own future. And if you have no idea what to do, call your Momma! I had to quite literally go home again to realize my dream of Home Again.Tags: Actress, Amy Tipton, Behind the camera, Beth Crookham, Charlotte NC, Dawson's Creek, Film and TV business, Film art department, Follow your dreams, Georgia, Habitat for Humanity, Hollywood, Home Again, Home renovation for active duty military personnel, John Travolta, Kathy Bates, Marines, Mark Harmon, Melissa McCarthy, Military heroes, Mother knows best, Murphy family, Old School Rebuilders, On set, Peace 4 Kids, Robert Redford, SAG actor, Show business, Starting over, Support our troops, Tammy, Television, Unite the community, USO