We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenny Austin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jenny, life can be so busy as an adult, and for many, especially those who’ve moved to a new city, making friends can be hard. We’d love to hear your thoughts?
The best way to make friends is simply by opening yourself up to options, even if it feels counter-intuitive at first. When I moved to LA from North Carolina after my college graduation, I barely knew anyone. I was desperate for a roommate, and looking back, I was probably a little bit too trusting. Eventually, I met an amazing woman on Craigslist from Finland – and we still keep in touch today. Unfortunately, one of my roommates in that situation wasn’t so cool. With the help of a childhood best friend, I was able to break my lease. The landlord claimed he wasn’t a “matchmaker,” but clued me on another young woman in a similar situation in the complex. We met up over a glass of wine and talked for hours. She became my new roommate and one of my dearest LA friends. But you don’t always have to meet new friends in your current city; sometimes traveling provides shocking opportunities for connecting, because you never know what mutual friends you’ll have. I went to Vegas in my early 20s and met someone there from Boston. He eventually visited LA, invited me to dinner, and brought one of his Boston friends who had just moved to LA. I immediately admired his friend’s brilliance and down to earth attitude. After dinner, I asked her if we could keep in touch – and she became one of my closest friends. I am so grateful for that Vegas trip! A great way to make friends as an adult is by focusing on your current network; in other words, I’ve had luck with making friends through other people. As a college student, I hosted a radio show that featured “celebrity” guests. Upon meeting a Starbucks barista/musician from a small town in North Carolina, I asked him to appear on the show. When his college friend called in requesting a song, I bonded with her about acting and learned she was also moving to LA. When we were both in LA, we grabbed coffee (arranged by her). It turned into a wonderful friendship; we often invited each other out, took acting classes together, made movies together, and she’s still one of my closest friends. She and Vegas girl above are now best friends also – arranged by me! I believe making friends as an adult sometimes requires a certain boldness. I’m in several LA Facebook groups. One time, I saw a girl was selling awesome name brand dresses she had worn in fashion shoots. She was not only a beautiful supermodel, but it looked like she traveled the world and had an awesome life. She just looked like an interesting person. We had similar measurements, so I thought why not?! I went to her apartment and tried on her dresses. Mid-convo, after complimenting the length of my eyelashes, she said “if you want to be friends, I don’t really have any.” I said, “I’m always looking for new friends!” I thought she was hilarious and easy to be around. We discovered we have the same birthday and very similar personality types. We started texting and went out together a few times, then she joined my girls’ group. Another way to build friendships as an adult is by attempting to discover spontaneity in random places. For example, my LA roommate and I used to go to “mansion parties” in our early 20s. The origin of these invitations remains a mystery to me, but a wealthy entrepreneur held one every weekend. One time on the dance floor, my roommate and met another set of roommates. We all laughed at the hilarity of the situation. Following the party, all of us tried to hang out all the time, but mostly in similar situations. We went to the playboy mansion together, People’s Choice Awards, etc. Over time though, one of the girls and I started doing other activities and forming a deeper friendship connection. We went on hikes together, helped each other record auditions, cried over boys to each other, etc. She is now one of my closest friends and I truly don’t know what I would do without her.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I worked for the Academy for 5 years and got to attend 5 Oscars, which was definitely otherworldly. As a journalist, I interviewed over 40 A-list actors which was another unreal experience for a girl from North Carolina. With a few co-workers at the Academy, I created a web-series, called “Or Die Trying”, about women in film by women in film, with characters loosely based on us. We raised 21k for production and were committed to hiring at least 85% women in front of and behind the camera. Or Die Trying was selected for the Oscar-Qualifying festival, HollyShorts, and we secured distribution with Amazon Prime. I am currently starring in the series “Beached” which was selected for the Oscar-qualifying festival, SXSW. The hustle in Los Angeles can be exhausting and sometimes, living a more “normal” life seems really enticing. I realize that if it wasn’t hard, everyone would be doing it, and happiness will only come when I’m honest with myself about my goals and motivations!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Coffee / Breakfast: -The Griddle (This is a delicious breakfast spot. There is usually a 20-40 minute wait on weekends but it is worth it. There are pancakes the size of dinner plates in so many yummy flavors. I recommend getting a plate of pancakes to share and then also getting an omelette or something). -Carrera Cafe (Can get your picture in the whipped cream!) -Bricks & Scones -Conservatory -Mel’s Drive-In (Famous old diner, has been featured in lots of movies. Yummy burgers!) -Paty’s Diner (The Valley) -The Beverly Hills Hotel (“Fountain Coffee Room” inside / scene) Scene Lunch: -Aroma Coffee & Tea (Tujunga Ave, Studio City location. Beautiful outside garden, so delicious!) -Fred Segal (Mauro’s for lunch) -Urth Cafe – WeHo (Everyone’s favorite. Entourage location) -Joans on 3rd (Famous classic) -The Ivy (American/Italian) -Cecconi’s (Italian) Casual Lunch: -Akuma Ramen & Sushi Bar -Joe and the Juice (Smoothies) -Merics (Mexican food with awesome happy hour specials) -Ruby’s Shake Shack (This is a chain through CA but there is one location that overlooks the beach and it is really beautiful if you want a beach day. Milkshakes and burgers.) Dinner: -Mercado (Mexican) -Micelis (Universal City, Italian – my personal favorite) -The Parlor (Football, fire pits) -The Henry (Fine dining) -Toco Madera (Yummy Mexican food and great margs) -Ivory on Sunset (In the Mondrian Hotel. Awesome views) -Culver Hotel (Beautiful) -Yamashiro (Sushi, Amazing LA views) -Katsuya (Great Japanese, Heidi & Spencer hot spot) -Roosevelt Hotel (25 Degrees – burgers) -Slater’s 50/50 (Yummy burger place where you put really cool toppings on it… like mac n cheese and peanut butter and jelly!) -Sushi Sushi Beverly Hills (Amazing sushi) -S Beverly Grill (Amazing food / scene) Ice-Cream / Dessert: -Salt and Straw -Milk -Milk Jar Cookies Drinks: -EPLP – WeHo (scene) -Ysabel -Melrose Umbrella Co. -The Roger Room -The Standard -SkyBar (inside Mondrian Hotel) -The Den on Sunset -The Parlour Room of Hollywood (vintage) -Sassafras Saloon (old west theme) -Pearl’s Rooftop -Harriets (view!) -Conservatory (scene / check out the Society Room in the back) -Laurel Hardware -The Hudson -Long Beach Ballast Point Brewery (Brewery right on the water) -Roosevelt Hotel – Tropicana Bar & Spare Room -Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills (scene) -Sunday jazz nights at the W Hotel Walk Around: -The Grove -Third St Promenade -Downtown Pasadena -Manhattan Beach/Hermosa Beach -Sunset Strip (Night life) -Melrose Flea Market (Happens every Sunday… cool stuff, live music, food trucks, fun. Also a lot of famous mural walls that people take pictures in front of) -La Brea Tarpits (Fossils/ice age museum) -Witch House in Beverly Hills -Hollywood Blvd “Walk of Fame” (This is too much for some people/too touristy and crazy but I still love it) -Beverly Hills / Mulholland Dr. (Pretty houses) -Universal City Walk (Good for under 21) The OC – Beach Day: -Newport Beach (The Rusty Pelican for din) -Laguna Beach (The Rooftop Lounge for lunch or din or drinks, The Cliff for lunch) Comedy: -Laugh Factory -The Comedy Store -The Hollywood Improv -The Ice House -UCB -Groundlings -Hamburger Mary’s drag queen bingo -Comedy and Magic Show in Hermosa Beach Activities / Adventure: -Malibu Wine Safaris (This is a half-day of so much fun. I recommend upgrading to get the time with the giraffe. Very beautiful scenery, great wines, and adorable animals plus such a cool property. Good restaurants in Malibu for after) -Hollywood bus tour -Venice Beach Boardwalk/Santa Monica (This is a full day of fun. You can ride the ferris wheel that goes over the ocean, tons of people watching in Venice, see muscle beach, ride bikes along the beach, etc) -Catalina Island (I haven’t been here yet! I think the ferry is $40 and leaves early in the morning. Very cool spot- you can kayak or boat or just walk around. Apparently you can see sea lions and otters) -Disneyland -Universal Studios -WB Studio Tour (I have been on this like 17 times. SO WORTH IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You’ll see studios of all your favorite shows and films + so much more) http://vipstudiotour.warnerbros.com -Smorgasburg (food truck festival every Sunday. Suchhhh good foods, I can never decide what I want) -San Diego (San Diego is about a 2 hour drive. Completely doable… beautiful beaches and sea lions in La Jolla and fun). -Griffith Park Observatory (head here at night to scope out a beautiful view of the city and the stars with telescopes and ish. Choose a clear day for this) -Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Really cool outdoor movie theater in a cemetery. You have to get tickets early for this. You have to arrive super early to wait in line but can sit down and picnic in line and outside. Can also bring concealed drinks and be secretive 🙂 It is a lot of sitting/laying on the ground haha. Tickets are $16). -Runyon Canyon (nice spot to hike, easy-difficult versions of the hike available. Beautiful view of all of Los Angeles). -Hollywood sign hike (or in front, but being right behind the Hollywood sign is SO cool! Best kept secret: Start at Sunset Ranch.. there should be parking: 3400 N Beachwood Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068) -Glen Ivy (If you are looking for a spa day and if it is warm enough, this place is awesome. So many different types of pools, mud baths, clay painting, etc. You can schedule a massage or special extras ahead of time. So freaking relaxing). -The Getty/LACMA (art museums. LACMA is really close, The Getty is really beautiful. LACMA is really pretty at night with all the lights). -The Greystone Mansion (really pretty mansion/park where they filmed lots of movies)
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Striking a balance between your personal life and professional life is crucial. Mark Groves often discusses this concept on his podcast and social media accounts. He offers great “no -BS relationship advice” concerning both friendships and relationships. I suggest subscribing for these daily reminders.
Other: TikTok: jennylouiseaustin