We had the good fortune of connecting with SHANDRA GRAHAM and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi SHANDRA, how do you think about risk?
I think Risk taking is one of the biggest factors in the life of an actor. I’ve definitely faced this mountain many times in my journey to where I currently find myself. From Years ago, leaving the corporate world to focus on building myself and my brand instead of someone else’s company was a huge risk. I often felt a sense of safety in the 9 to 5 world and that anything outside of this perceived safety net was crazy. Boy was I wrong. Slowly the more that I felt the freedom of making my own path, and being the author of my own destiny I started to see that life has no guarantees and no matter how safe a job may feel tomorrow isn’t promised. From that point on I jumped into my acting career with both feet first. I researched, I wanted to be as knowledgeable as possible about the industry, something you can never be fully prepared for. But it was a risk I was willing to take to have the freedom to write my own destiny.
Once I truly let go I found that risk had been apart of me all along, I took a risk to move to LA, took a risk every day to get up and keep making moves so at this point I honestly believe I can do ANYTHING I put my mind to.
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.
I think we’ve all experienced such an upheaval in our daily lives due to the Pandemic and really had to focus and reimagine our lives as creatives in this new normal. I’ve often felt this sense of upheaval and change in my life to a lesser extent but still life changing. Being from small town Mississippi, you don’t always see a lot of examples of people living by creating in your personal life. Its something we see on TV in what seems like a far away land. So to jump out of that boat of normalcy into what is in some ways is never a dull moment can scare many people. But not me, I was always the dreamer of the family and the first chance I got I made my way to LA. I’ve always had the support and love from an early age that whatever I put my mind to I could do, and if that included a career in Acting, then thats just what it would be. I set out early to make a plan, but quickly found that plans don’t always turn out the way we think they will.
During my first several years in LA I experienced a bout of being homeless living in my car, not knowing where I would even live, I still went to work every day and tried moving the needle any way I could. Getting out of that situation was what I needed to propel myself into where I am now. I felt that If I could get through that situation and not run home, I could get through anything.
I now have a team of Agents and a manager that believe in me. I am a principal cast member in a short film that is playing on Amazon Prime, and also will be filming a pilot in the early stages of its development in a couple of months. I’ve been in some of the biggest audition rooms of my career. I want the world to know that first of all this is only the beginning and I’ve learned that you should never despise small beginning, treat every opportunity as the one that may change your life. Do a simple rehearsal as if you’re the lead in a feature film. Be the best at all times. I believe that I’ve been in the spaces I have been in because I’ve been gracious enough to serve and be available to learn from great people. And now I use that in my own career.
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 have been blessed to see alot of parts of Los Angeles and and had native friends gracious enough to show me the hidden gems so If I became a tour guide for someone a week with me would be: Taking a whole day and making a trip up to Malibu and sitting on a private deserted beach for a day and just having lunch and swimming. I had a friend who, once a week we would take a trip and just chill on the beach listening to music, no one else there. It was heaven. Then I’d take them to Paradise Cove Cafe for some seafood, For shopping my favorite place to go when I just wanted to spend a day walking and shopping was either Robertson Blvd or Melrose for those one of a kind and whimsical items. I was never really one to go out in this city from the very beginning of my time here, but I’ve had industry parties at some of the coolest rooftops and I’d definitely take my friend to experience one of those on their trip to the city. Possibly the Standard Downtown or Andaz on Sunset. Once done with that I’d just take them on a drive the PCH just to see the Ocean and mountains of the landscape.
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?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to the amazing Teachers and fellow amazing students at Identity School of Acting Los Angeles. This place has literally been the catalyst of my growth as an actor. From the moment I stepped in the door I felt like I was being fully trained in the art of storytelling. From our Movement Classes to our Voice Classes it specifically enabled me as an actor to target every part of myself as a creative. With this and my experiences I felt confident and full enough to face many different character challenges we can face as actors.
Film Photos from Short Film “Blood At The Root” Created by LaDarrion Williams and Directed by AJ Lovelace.