From Homeless to Hollywood: My Journey to Success
By Arian Simone
After college, I moved to Los Angeles for my first job. After working for just one month, the company was sold and I was laid off. With no source of income I eventually moved out of my apartment and into my car. I sold my clothes and belongings in exchange for food and gas to put in my car. I never imagined that all this would happen to me! I grew up upper middle-class, got a college education and did everything “right.” Or at least I thought.
There I was in Los Angeles with no job. I applied to over 150-plus jobs with no luck. I went on welfare and started collecting food stamps. I called my mother one day and told her, “If this is what life is like, I don’t see a need to live.” She immediately freaked out. I wasn’t suicidal, but I was mentally exhausted and tired of the rejection. I didn’t have a place to stay for almost a year.
Throughout, my trials my relationship with a higher power grew very strong. Someone who knew me from a previous job referred me to their spouse to do some PR and marketing work. I had never worked in PR a day in my life nor did I really know what it was, but I was willing to learn. At that time, if someone was going to hire me to clean toilets, I would have been eager to do so—I just wanted to eat. The couple who hired me sent out other referrals and in two weeks I had about 5 to 7 projects going on. I immediately moved into an office space with the help of my sorority sister, ND Brown. I decided to live out of the office for about a month until I was able to afford an apartment.
The apartment was located in a high rise in central LA. On the 19th floor of the building was the most popular hip-hop station at the time in LA—100.3 The Beat. I would wake up every morning and network with whatever celebrities were at the radio station for the morning show. I made plenty of contacts.
One day the real Coach Carter—that the film was based off—was on my floor. He introduced me to the fact that movie studios outsource people to do PR and marketing for films. He had me help out with his film just prior to the release. From this exposure, I began contacting people who were also FAMU alumnus. Will Packer and Rob Hardy were the two that I knew were in the movie business. I informed them about of my latest projects. From there my company was blessed to work on the film Stomp the Yard. The movie ended up being the #1 movie for two weekends in a row. This success began a snowball effect. From there I worked on This Christmas, First Sunday, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Takers, Quantum of Solace 007, and countless others.
From my experience with homelessness, I learned three things:
1. Enjoy the process and know that all things work together for the good; whatever you are going through plays a role in your story.
2. Don’t get distracted, stay focused, energy grows where attention flows.
3. Stay in the ring. Even if you take a few punches, don’t leave the ring. The only way you can win the fight is if you stay in the ring
4. You can lose your job, lose your home, but no matter what you go through, do not lose your mind. If you maintain a winning mindset, victory is coming, I can’t tell you how or when, but I can tell you that it will!