Location: New Jersey > California
At what age did you leave home to move to California?
21. I moved to LA three weeks after graduating college. I had always wanted to visit LA because of the movies I used to watch growing up, but I had never been. I got a paid internship offer the night before graduation, and the morning of, I signed the paper. I was so excited to start this new chapter of my life.
Do you think that being a performer puts pressure on you to act a certain way?
As an actor, I can sit there and put on a show. I can pretend to be happy or sad or whatever the mood calls for. This isn’t something that I do often, because usually my emotions are real. But about eighty percent of the time that I’m actually sad, no one knows about it.
Has anyone ever known you to be depressed?
Everyone who knows me, knows me as a happy guy. A guy that can make anyone smile or laugh. A guy that brings out peoples' best qualities. A guy that cares for his friends and would be there at the drop of a hat. I am that guy. But what a lot of people don’t know is the daily struggle of my own mind.
When did your low point begin?
This past year, I had a national commercial air that millions of people saw and actually liked. But nothing came out of it. There was no big check in the mail. There were no invites to crazy parties. There were no more auditions. Emotionally, that commercial from start to finish was very difficult for me. Upon finishing the day of filming for it, I grabbed a coffee and went to the bus stop. When it came, I grabbed a seat in the back. I pulled out my phone and began writing a Facebook status update about how excited I was. I always look to inspire with my Facebook posts, so this one was going to be a good one. As I was writing, about halfway through this long status it finally hit me. Holy shit, I just accomplished one of my life long goals! I’m no longer dreaming about being on TV in front of millions of people, I actually did it. It was at that moment in the back of that bus from Inglewood to Hollywood that I started crying. It was one of the best feelings in the world. But a few months later the lights went out. After the commercial stopped airing, and after everyone stopped sending texts and leaving voice mails, the true nature of the entertainment industry reared it’s ugly head. The phone stopped ringing. The auditions were few and far between, and the bills were getting higher.
So that moment triggered it?
Yea, so around this time last year, things had been on a steady decline for me- both mentally and financially. I had been supporting myself on acting for the few months before January, and since I wasn’t getting the callbacks or the jobs, I was feeling a bit lost. My job situation had always been interesting out here in LA. I moved here on an internship that was supposed to turn into a full time job after three months. After a year and three months of being an intern, I was laid off, along with twenty-five percent of the company. Since then my jobs included bar back, server, doorman, promoter, concessions at a movie theatre, bus boy, recruiter, research assistant and a bathroom porter. None of these jobs lasted more then a few months, so at the time I was unemployed (even right now, acting isn’t paying the bills, and while I am aware of my talent and am aware that it takes a while, it’s not something that I can put 100% of my time into). So that was when I had the breakdown.
What did that look like?
I just wasn't myself. I was severely depressed. I can’t begin to explain the thoughts that went through my mind everyday. I woke up and wasn't happy. When I opened my eyes, I no longer looked at the day as if it was new and I could do anything. I woke up, and it was already the worst day I’d had since the day before. I had more anxiety than I knew how to handle. The fact that the moment I woke up knowing that I had nothing to do that day but look for work was not something I looked forward to. Imagine waking up everyday and knowing that there isn’t anything to anticipate, besides maybe seeing your close friends or getting an audition. For the first time in years, I felt like a lost little boy. I was 25 years old, and I had no idea where my life was going! I began applying for desk jobs- jobs that would give me little to no time to pursue acting, but for whatever reason, I was fine with that. I needed a job. I needed a career to fall back on, because at the time, I didn’t have one. Acting is what I was born to do. I don’t want to act; I NEED to. It is my passion. But those desk jobs weren’t responding to my emails.
What were you feeling at the time?
I was just scared. I couldn’t see a future in anything that I did. I felt as if there wasn’t anything over the horizon, as if my luck had run its course. I knew I wasn't alone, and all of my friends and family showed me this everyday. I knew that I had so much support and so many people rooting for me, but after a while when all that cheering wasn’t attracting the right people, the crowd started to disappear. I was the nice guy who’s always there for his friends and always looks on the bright side of things yet doesn’t follow his own advice. I was lost and scared that the future wouldn’t be so nice to me.
Can you remember a specific day or incident that was incredibly low or scary?
Yes actually, I got up out of bed this one day and decided that I was going to walk around the neighborhood (Hollywood). Because both of my roommates had jobs, I didn't see them much until they got back from work, and because I wasn't feeling right, I'd sit at home all day. Sometimes I wouldn't have human interaction until four or five o'clock. So anyway, this one day I decided to go out and have breakfast. I ate, put on my headphones, and continued to walk. For whatever reason, that was the worst idea for me. Every two seconds a new depressing thought would pop into my head. Like things from second grade, when I didn't like the girl who had a crush on me and felt bad about it. So many random thoughts. At one point I stopped where I was and just stood there. I hated everything...not a normal feeling for me. All of my thoughts and experiences had led me to this point. I was broken. I turned around, went home, and tried to sleep it off. I was not myself.
Did you ever have thoughts of harming yourself? If so, what were they like?
I never thought of suicide. Deep down I knew that I'd come out of this. There were some days when I wanted to punch a wall just to feel hurt. I wanted to fall down the stairs just to get attention. But I never acted on it. It was like my mind knew what I was going through, but my body was fighting it. Since those days, I've been fine, but there was one moment more recently that really scared me. It was the death of Robin Williams. That shook me to my core. I have been low before- to where I thought of physically harming myself-and I thought that for me, that was as low as it would get. I'm a happy guy, and people seem to like me. I didn't think it could get worse, but when Robin died, I thought, Wow, it can get way worse. And I just thought to myself, I never want to be in this position ever again.
What helped you get out of the depression and anxiety? Was it something you did or rather external circumstances?
My friends and family mostly. I was able to talk to my mom about it. She was worried but knew that I would come out of this okay. She really set my head straight on a few of those days where my mind wasn't feeling so healthy. I also had this break out talk with my roommate that led us both to tears. I needed that one. But it was actually a job that really took me out of it. I went and had a meeting with my friend, Isabel Adrian, and she thought it was bullshit that I wasn't working and doing what I loved. A few days later she offered me a job, and from that point on I had something to keep me busy. That really helped me a lot.
What advice would you give to someone struggling with the depression and anxiety you felt?
Talk! Tell your best friend how you're feeling. Tell your Mom or Dad or anyone who will listen. If you're an actor or someone in the entertainment industry, talk to a peer or co-worker, because they are usually the only ones who know exactly what it is you're going through. I kept it in for months, and I changed. My whole perception on life changed, because I thought that no one cared and that no know could truly understand what I was feeling. I was wrong. Give depression a face. Make people talk about it. Things can get dark- really dark- but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I, for one, have opened myself up to talking about this. If someone needs to vent, I'm your guy. I just want people to be more aware of what's going on in their close friends lives, and if they notice anything different to speak up! It's so unbelievably important, and believe me, one compliment or one smile change someones day.