My stint in Hollywood started with $700 cash and access to a Nigel’s sofa in a studio apartment in the mid-Wilshire neighborhood. I fantasized of working as a stills photog on movie productions–small and large. While shooting style editorials, travel layouts for inflight mags, and temping gigs at a few studios, I occasionally landed an unpaid shoot on an indie film set or music video. A long chilly night in Griffith Park for the Thong Song music video shoot was an eye-opening dance with reality. But not what changed my plans. A teenager I scouted during a work trip, became the reason I had to book a one-way return flight to the east coast to fulfill a five-year Mother Agent contract.
During a layover in South Florida on one of many Caribbean press trips, I linked up with the Jamaican author G. W. James. After a Thai dinner, we strolled quaint, treelined streets, then sat in a public park cleverly situated in the large round-about in the city’s Downtown dining district. That half-day visit left an indelible mark. Though I didn’t plan to return to vacation and do a deep dive into the city, somehow the City of Hollywood remained on my mind.
Just 25 minutes drive to Miami Beach and 15 minutes to Sunrise Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale, the other Hollywood, is a beach town with a relaxed Jimmy Buffet tropical shirt vibe. Further west near the turnpike, the city feels less coastal more suburban townhome-ish. The town’s easy access to freeways, railways, and two international airports were key draws. When the 2008 recession created an advantage for home-buyers, I hopped to Hollywood. Real estate listings in North Miami and Hallandale Beach were explored, but the cozy charm of the coastal town with a beach that has the only Broadwalk, felt like just the right speed in that moment.
I volunteered as a well-informed Beach Ambassador, networked at Chamber of Commerce meetings, and designed and curated a website for condo owners. Gradually, the frequent flier pace of my lifestyle mellowed to a few trips for overseas clients. I started playing tennis, returned to rollerskating, and kept a stash of beach gear in my trunk for that sudden urge for a sea bath that showed-up twice weekly at 2 pm. Living just a 10-minute drive from a beach is the lifestyle I never believed I would attain. But I know my discipline, determination, honesty, and devotion to hard work have earned it.