We had the good fortune of connecting with Caitlin Oden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Caitlin, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think taking risks is a super scary but super necessary part of life! You can’t really grow if you never step out of your comfort zone. For me, risk-taking is all about deciding if the good things that could come from a risk outweigh the bad things.
Deciding to pursue a career in the arts is a huge risk. Mostly because “art” is so subjective and there isn’t really a linear path artists follow in our careers. But taking that risk has been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life. Several years ago, when I was applying to colleges, I decided to take a “risk” by studying acting/musical theatre at university. But at the time, I convinced myself that auditioning for conservatories was too big a risk, and that I should minimize that “risk,” by not going to a conservatory/conservatory program and would instead double major with something “useful” like one of my more academic interests. So I decided on a double major in acting and environmental studies.
But my freshman year of college, I had a professor tell me in one of my acting classes, “Never have a Plan B.” He said that if I had one, then I would eventually end up doing that instead of fully embracing my art and diving right in. I realized he was right and I quickly dropped my double major. I decided that although going to school for the performing arts could be considered a risk—I believe in myself and I know I’m capable of big things. I work hard at what I do and I have faith things will go according to my “Plan A.” So in many ways, although my choice could be considered a “risk,” I know I’ve put in the work and passion to be successful.
I don’t really have regrets in life because the way I see it, all of my life choices lead me to where I am now and where I am supposed to be. Even if taking that risk doesn’t work out the way you planned, it opens doors you didn’t know were there. I truly believe that taking those risks is always, always worth it in the end.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Thank you so much! Well, I’m Caitlin Oden and I’m an actor/singer based in LA. I’m originally from Nashville, but I moved to LA about 6 years ago for school and stayed after graduation to pursue a career in the Industry.
Questions like these are always really difficult because I’m like–where do I start?! Let me give it a try and hopefully I don’t ramble too much…
I’ve always known I wanted to be a performer. I started dance classes when I was 3, singing in choirs when I was 4, and did my first community theatre production at 7. Throughout middle and high school, I was especially drawn to musical theatre specifically and had my sights set on Broadway and moving to New York City. But in college, I really fell in love with film/TV and the amazing art that can be made with a camera, so I stayed in LA after I graduated from USC to focus on my career onscreen.
When I was little, I wanted to be a performer because I loved nothing more than singing and dancing and “playing pretend.” I feel the most like myself when I’m singing a song (especially show tunes, of course) or, ironically, stepping into a character’s shoes.
As I’ve gotten older, my reasons for pursuing a career in the arts have evolved. I’ve come to recognize the amazing power of art. Art is so important to our society. Whether we’re happy or sad, we watch movies, sing songs, and consume art. Art has such an influence on our culture. Art heals. Art teaches. Art brings us together, and I want to be a part of that.
Acting and appearing onscreen in a marginalized body is a form of activism. Though I am incredibly privileged as a cisgendered, white woman, I don’t see bodies like mine onscreen. And when I do, nine times out of ten it’s not a positive representation. When I see actors in larger bodies telling stories that have nothing to do with their bodies and everything to do with just being human, I’m filled with hope; I feel seen and I feel worthy. As a plus-sized artist, if I can help any other folx feel the same way, then I will have been incredibly successful.
As an artist, I want to be remembered for bringing out the humanity in every character I portray—even characters that seem so hateful. I want to be remembered for bringing to life full, complex, realistic characters that you can’t help but love or sympathize with.
As a person, I want to be remembered for being empathetic, caring, and unapologetically myself. I want to be remembered for my dualities: I am strong and powerful, and also soft and vulnerable. I am compassionate and empathetic–but the second you harm myself or others I am a raging fire of fury and destruction. I want to be remembered as a full, complex, confusing person full of contradictions.
It’s taking me quite a bit to feel like I’m ready to “be a person” again after the year we’ve had. Although I’ve continued taking my acting classes online throughout the pandemic, I really only just started submitting to projects again these past few months. In addition to writing my own projects, I recently booked two features that I’m super excited about, and I feel so grateful and ecstatic to be working.
I’m super excited for whatever is to come. I’m working hard to be a better artist, I’m working on my next goals, and every day I’m reminding myself that we’re all on our own path. I know that great things are coming, and I really do think some amazing art is going to come from these dark times.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oo this is such a fun question! Let’s say my friend is in town for a long weekend.
So if I had a friend coming to town, the first thing I would do would be to show them around my neighborhood. That night, we’d go do happy hour at Home Restaurant in Los Feliz. They have delicious happy hour cocktails for $6 and appetizers for $5. For a quick treat afterward, we’d go grab some ice cream. My favorites are the Gooey Butter Cake and Wildberry Lavender flavors from Jeni’s, or the Honeycomb flavor from Van Leeuwen.
The next day, we’d wake up early and walk over to Alfred for one of the best lattes I’ve ever had and drive around looking at some gorgeous old houses. I love taking my friends who come visit to see the Victorian mansions near Echo Park on Carroll Ave–especially folx who grew up watching the original “Charmed” since you can see the house they used for the exterior shots there! Later that day, we’d swing by California Grill on Virgil in East Hollywood/Virgil Village for some delicious pupusas. On Mondays and Wednesdays, they have a deal where I think pupusas are around $1. I’m a vegetarian, so I especially like the bean/cheese and the ayote/cheese ones. Later that evening we’d go to Escala in Koreatown (on 6th and Kenmore!) for their happy hour. If you go, make sure you try the kimchi rice empanadas!
The next morning, we would wake up early and go do a hike at Griffith, of course–perhaps the Ferndell Nature Trail since it’s a little prettier than the not-at-all-shaded dirt paths you typically find at Griffith. Then we’d head up to the Observatory to get a nice view of the city. After our hike, we’d head to HomeState in East Hollywood for some breakfast tacos. My favorite tacos are the Love Song and the Potato Taco. And you have to try the Cookie Milk Cold Brew! After breakfast, we would head over to the Huntington Library in Pasadena to walk around for a bit. It’s so gorgeous over there and at times can feel like you’ve gone back in time. Huntington has so many beautiful gardens to explore, and it’s nice to have space to just lay out a blanket and relax by a koi pond. For my friend’s last night in town, after a nice dinner at Gracias Madre, we would go out to one of my favorite places to have a drink: Arts District Brewery, Jay’s Bar in Silverlake, Crawford’s in Rampart Village, or HMS Bounty in Koreatown.
LA has so many amazing things to offer and so many cool things to see. There are plenty of favorite spots I definitely forgot to mention!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Michael Laskin Studio! Michael, Kelsey, and John are the absolute best and I owe so much of my growth as an actor this past year to them. I could not ask for better mentors.
Headshots by Brandin Photography. “Cabaret” shot by Lauren Gill Photography