When I moved to L.A. from San Francisco, a lot of people told me that L.A. was fake, that the people are fake, that the culture is fake. Well, first, there is no culture. It’s a huge city with a million things going on. Nobody’s decided that L.A. has one unifying culture, and there’s not really unity. That’s part of what’s attractive to me about it. That diversity, that division, that ability for people to be whoever they are and clash and coordinate with so many others… that’s what’s beautiful about the city experiment. That’s what’s so real about the people here.
Authenticity is not equilibrium
The imagined authenticity is some kind of purity of person. We who would be the same in a cabin in the woods as in a walmart. I believe authenticity in private life or on stage is automatic. It’s whatever is happening. If I’m guarded and showy in social situations, that’s authentically who I am.
I love to see when people are a little thrown off. I get to learn more about who they are, what are the boundaries of their character when they don’t have a game plan or when they’re transitioning from one mode to another.
L.A. is destabilizing
This town is so full of obstacles and stuff and surprises, it destabilizes everyone and gives everyone a chance to expose more colors. Some people are trying to present something without much understanding of what’s behind it. That’s okay. That exposes who they are with that.
The real fear is non-existence
I think when people see other people who put on an obvious mask, there’s a little bit of the uncanny valley. There’s a peek into the emptiness that is behind it. It doesn’t feel substantial, and so we fear the part of ourselves that might be lacking. If this person is not really there behind a mask, am I not really there? Do I not exist? The thoughts, attitudes, and feelings that I think give me life, are they not really there?
Quick interactions make empathy hard
Another thing about Los Angeles is that stuff is moving constantly. It might be hard to sit down with someone and hear their story. It might be hard to empathise and understand why they’re putting up the mask they’re wearing. I’m not saying I’m awesome, but there was something about my past that made it easier for me to see what was up with the actors and artists I met when I landed. I saw a lot of ambition and I loved it. I saw ambition that caused people to challenge all their values and their stories and see what was left. This left people raw and struggling and engaging and embracing new mindsets and opportunities.
Advice is usually bad
While a lot of people gave me warnings about L.A., my favorite was from Bob Mendelson who told me “L.A. has everything you could ever want whether you want it or not.”
People everywhere are real… including Tinsel Town.