We had the good fortune of connecting with Shaina Hammer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shaina, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
It’s weird having any type of work life balance as a performer. It almost seems like a futile effort. But over the years I’ve come to understand that being productive isn’t always about “doing things.” I’ve heard that productivity can even be achieved while sitting in silence; it’s regenerative and restorative, especially for people like me who tend toward introversion. So I used to be constantly checking my email, my phone, casting sites, everything. Hopping onto an audition to submit it the quickest. Looking up info on IMDb in my free time. But that’s not restorative. Nor is it sustainable. In fact taking a minute to breath has proven its worth in gold over the years. After all, I’m with myself all the time, I’d much rather be with a sane me than a crazed one. So I strive to find those moments of quiet in my life. Even if its not quiet, even if its me watching a Star Trek episode. That works for me. That’s restorative. And when I’m done worrying about the fate of Captain Picard and his crew and they are safely on their way through the galaxy again, I can go my way. With a fresh perspective.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I didn’t start performing until high school. My friend was in choir and the idea of a class without desks was thrilling to me. I started singing my sophomore year. And acting the year after that. It stuck. After college I moved to Los Angeles where I am today. It’s been a rough ride; the rejection can feel like an open wound that never truly heals, and I’ve definitely made use of my therapy sessions, but it’s true when they say there’s light at the end of tunnels. Today I can say I am a professional actor and singer because I’ve worked in both those professions. As in I booked a job in which I acted or sang and was subsequently paid for it. Each time a stranger has to believe in you, and they have, they did, they will. It’s possible! But my biggest obstacle will always be myself; I am my worst enemy and that has always been the oddest lesson to learn. I struggle to convince myself of my own worth, I struggle to understand why others are invested in me. Those thoughts are little gnats that fly around my head. As often as possible I take them and put them in the trash, but it takes time. And as I’ve learned from Star Trek, “the effort yields its own rewards.”
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?
I always love a good drive around Beverly Hills! And then you have to walk down Rodeo Drive, think about entering the stores, and really just stop at Alfred’s for their famous iced vanilla latte. Then you have to go to the beach, any beach. I forget about Southern California’s natural beauty but it’s all around. I could spend the whole afternoon on the sand. For dinner we are stopping by Din Tai Fung (if we can get in) for their soup dumplings and for dessert we are going to Milk or Little Damage in DTLA. Basically, the whole trip will be centered around the food. And if you want to get a sense of the film industry take a tour of Paramount Studios, it’s the most beautiful lot. Or get in a live audience!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Jamison Jones! He’s been my acting teacher/mentor/coach for about 4 years now. I didn’t have a great audition into his Monday night masterclass to be honest, and I don’t think he remembers that, which is good, let’s keep it that way. When I first started with Jamison’s studio I was a fresh faced college grad who had drive but no experience. I “knew” things about acting but I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And sometimes it just takes someone who believes in you, who welcomes you into their community, who pushes and prods you out of your comfort zone to expose you to those unknown things, gracefully and carefully and with a ton of patience. It’s feel almost like unraveling. As if I’ve unraveled myself these past few years in class. And then you’re looking in to who you are and taking hold of that and using it to tell meaningful stories. Jamison has that ability to unlock someone’s potential. He has been a gift in my life.
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