‘Discernment is a beautiful thing, a trait needed for survival, however, I crave the day where I’m not exerting so much energy navigating the male ego.’           

      Some of you may be wondering what changed after the explosion of the  #MeToo movement,  and the so-called “cleaning house” Hollywood did during the big takedowns of industry legends like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.   As a young woman in this industry, I can tell you we have moved an immense distance in a short amount of time. Not to say it’s all fine and dandy. Misogyny is still alive and well and the “hysterical woman” still wails out for improvement and justice.   At the painfully young age of 18, I moved to Los Angeles to be an actress. Alone and at full speed I scraped up tips and babysitting money to pack up my 1990 Geo Prizm and move from Fresno, the “mid-west”, of California to Hollywood, the “land of the devil” my religious family friend once warned me.   I laughed. I, for one, am not a naïve dumb little girl. I thought, hell, I’m the middle child of 7, having moved 19 times by the age of 14, seen my mother through 5 marriages, my brother through drug relapses and an ongoing battle with HIV, and survived the discovery of an estranged hidden biological father from India. Pshh—I was made for LA LA Land. I am smart, scrappy, and independent.   I arrived in LA already repped and auditioning. I’ll be a regular in no time, I told myself. I secured a day job that was lucrative and didn’t require much of my time. I was a waiter at the Hooter’s of Mexican restaurants, Pink Taco. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I worked at a place called Pink Taco. My parents and siblings got a good laugh, but I was making rent and then some on the weekends. I was supporting myself, paying for ongoing acting classes and even had a little left to eat. If you’ve ever lived in an expensive city like NYC, SF, or LA, then you know at 18 that’s a massive accomplishment.   So, I thought this big bad industry couldn’t weasel its way into my soul.   But quickly, I became rattled with anxiety. I was struggling to know who I was away from my family, facing tremendous challenges in acting class, and auditioning constantly to only be rejected time after time. Rejections that came in the form of smiling “not yet but keep going” and others that felt like a karate chop in the throat to be followed by an uppercut to the gut. My hair was greasy and my alcohol and cigarette intake was profound. My body was weakening, and my skin was experiencing a bizarre phenomenon of acne. WTF?!   Not to mention, my dating life was a bit of a circus, I seemed to find “familiar” personalities right and left. Now all of this is somewhat normal, right? The initiation of a girl into womanhood? The journey? But this state of a young wandering young girl is exactly what the dark side of Hollywood preys on. Especially pre #MeToo, when the “light” side just turned the other cheek. It was known  Kevin Spacey  was “weird,” people would whisper. “Beware of hotel parties,” or of that “perverted producer.” But nonetheless, it all went on.   As a sexual abuse survivor, I had a sensitive “oh shit” alarm that kept me from falling into the trap of a dangerous situation. But I was clouded, I was a girl. Only equipped with the guidance of my 18-year-old gut instincts and no one to stop what was happening anyway. So—I experienced a shit ton of close calls.   Why?  Because all I wanted to be was an actress. Someone will discover me, see me, have a knowing and that will be that. That’s how it happens, right?      
     At 19, I had a photographer, who shot a campaign I booked, take a liking to me on set. “That face!” he would say, “those eyes, such depth. Wow.” He even requested me on other shoots and just like that, I did two more campaigns. Straight booking, no audition. And life was funded for three months. My grandmother would say, “that photographer knows. He knows my baby is good for advertising.”   After our third shoot, he recommended we should shoot something fun, edgy, unique, more creative than these commercial ad campaigns we’d been doing. I could keep the photos he added. Great, I thought. He even mentioned his wife thought my look was interesting. He suggested shooting at my apartment, “I’m doing a series of photos in artists' homes,” “Sounds cool,” I said, so we set it up.   The day came and we started to shoot me doing normal things around my apartment, out on the fire escape smoking, things like that. As the shoot progressed, he started talking about his sex life. Making comments about women he’d slept with, how his wife didn’t mind. I grew uncomfortable and made sarcastic comments about his delusion and then the alarm bells went off. I started to clock how close he was becoming as each photo snapped, his energy became suddenly primal, then he suggested I sit on the edge of my bed. Then—he straddled me while getting an “angle,” I saw his dick hard in his pants.   I reactively shot up, said I needed to pee, then I emerged from the bathroom babbling about how hungry I was, wasn’t he hungry? “You must be hungry,” I grabbed my purse, “I live in Thai Town, this is Thai town, we have the best food. Let’s go eat.” I held my door open and he followed. After the meal, I said I had things to do and said goodbye.   (To this day I have never seen those photos and was never hired on his shoots again.)  I patted myself on the back after that experience.  I am stealth, I navigated that, no one got hurt, so what if we never work together again, at least I tried.    Within a year, I was waiting tables at a trendy spot in Silverlake, an upgrade from Pink Taco. I had a large party of Hollywood types one evening. One, in particular, got real chatty with me. “You’ve got a great look you know,” he said, “I’m a producer but I shoot photos too. I love shooting actresses, wanna shoot?” I hesitated…, “Nothing weird,” he said. “Who are you again?” I smugly replied. “E.*” he smiled. He was an executive producer on various network shows at the time. “I’ll look out for you, I’m sure we could find a guest spot or interesting co-star for you… Help build your resume.” “Sweet, thanks,” I said, and I gave him my email. The next day I had a message from him, saying how great it was to meet me, let's shoot photos, you have a great look. Nothing weird he said again, I have a wife and kids. Okay, it seems safe, I thought.   In my response, I squeezed in a joke about having pepper spray and Chewbacca on my keychain.  “Chewie’s my protector,”  I said,  “but seriously, I carry pepper spray.”   He replied--    LOL! You’re seriously funny. See you soon.    Now at this time, I had a boyfriend and I told him about this opportunity, and he was concerned, but in the end, said it was my decision and made sure to know the address and stuff like that. “He wants to shoot at his house in Los Feliz,” I assured him, “he’s married with kids, google him, I’ll be fine.”   Upon arriving at his place, he immediately sat me down and told me he and his wife were splitting up. But not to worry, “I’m not weird and I’m not that way,” he insisted.  As we started shooting, he wasted no time dancing around the subject of his sex life. Here we fucking go again, I thought. He then, not so graciously, introduced the fact that he shoots actresses naked and how artistic it is. He suggested we do that. “Absolutely not.” I snapped. “Look, I get it, I’ve taken art history, it’s cool and all but that’s not what I wanna do right now.” He argued with me, making condescending comments about how I wasn’t open to exploring and how I was actually blocking a part of myself artistically. Next thing I knew, I was shooting topless. What a scam, right?   He didn’t let up either. He kept pressing for me to disrobe more, grabbing at his dick in-between clicks of the camera. Topless, wasn’t enough compared to what other women had done, and they were on his show.   I became very agitated and said, “I’m done. I gotta go, this isn’t what I wanted.” I reached for my top and started to gather my things.  He got very defensive and went into a spiel about how if I said anything to anyone I wouldn’t work, he would be sure of that. He said he had kids and a wife to think about and he wasn’t interested in ridiculous drama. He handed over the photos on a hard drive, “Here,” he snarled, “take them, I’ll never even look at these. I’m an artist… I don’t ever wanna hear about this.”   “I won’t say anything,” I pleaded, I just wanted to get the fuck out of there.   I left.   I was pissed.  Ugh, I’m so stupid, I thought.   I went straight to my boyfriend’s house and told him how I shot topless, but played it off like it was all fine. I didn’t want to upset him.            
     “ Times up, enough is enough, and after all this progress we’ve made there is still more to learn and more to do. ” 
          A year or two passed and I was still waiting tables at the Silverlake spot, only, the trendiness was starting to wear thin. One day, I saw Harvey Weinstein party of four on the reservation list. “What?” I said to the hostess, “No fucking way the largest producer in Hollywood is coming here on a Wednesday night. Yeah, fucking right. Fake reservation.”   I hadn’t known what Mr. Weinstein looked like. I didn’t bother googling either—I was still rocking my indestructible blackberry. Damn, I miss that brick. But anyway—in walks four older men, and they sit in my section.  ICK — I remember thinking, there’s no way any of these men are him, they all seem so gross,  especially this guy.  This large grotesque man, who unashamedly, looked me up and down and even proceeded to grunt. Actually, grunt. That ghastly man was  Mr. Harvey Weinstein.    As the night progressed, he would ask me questions,   “Surely, you don’t just wait tables, what do you do?”   “I’m an actress,”   “How’s it going?”    “Great.”   He raised an eyebrow, but I had meant it. I was growing in my classes, I was booking smaller things, I was way ahead of my older friends who were actors.  “I could help you.”   I looked at him, instantly noticing that just then I had been flooded with fear, I physically couldn’t stand closer than three feet away from his table. My alarm bells were going off loud and clear.   “You should come with us to a party right now, over at this hotel.”  As those words fell out of his mouth my stomach began to turn.   “No. No thank you,” I ejected.   He was noticeably offended and got a little angry.  “Do you know who I am?”  “Yes. Yes, I do.” I turned and walked away from the table. Feeling proud I avoided another close call.  Not knowing till four years later—when his name covered every news headline—that I had escaped more than just a close call, with one of the most infamous power player serial rapists of our time. Recently, I watched “Untouchable,” Hulu’s  documentary  about Weinstein and some of his victims. And I was shaken . "Come to this hotel party ," was his way of cornering prey. Harvey Weinstein is a predator.         </iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"         
     After some years of sly harassment on sets, an emotionally abusive agent, a narcissistic abusive boyfriend, parties, alcohol, and some not so experimental drug use, I decided I needed therapy.   Yes, our society is broken, this Patriarchy is exhausting, and I am tired of constantly being on guard. But why was I seeing this over and over? How did I become the prey?   Incidentally, around the exact time I was unraveling this in therapy, the #MeToo movement was born. Suddenly actresses were banding together and telling their stories. It wasn’t just me, as a collective, we had daddy issues. Men and women. We all sought approval from the men in our lives, from the masculine traits of society; work, money, power, status, sex. We glamorized it.   The scale has now tipped and some men silently scream this has gone too far. And while, in some cases, that may be true, as a whole I can’t agree.   I can say now, after some work on myself, which will always remain unfinished, I have learned and been supported in this post #MeToo world, to create boundaries unapologetically, to finally see that this invisible prison I have always felt inflicted by does not have to be my reality. On the other side, I hope that I experience a day where I do not feel the need to navigate men. To fear them, to always have a suspicious eye. Discernment is a beautiful thing, a trait needed for survival and to create identity, however, I crave for the day where I am not exerting so much energy navigating the male ego.   As a woman, I try, and I encourage other women, to be patient. Yes, it still feels unfair, but most men were not taught. They too grew and learned life through the lens of patriarchy.   The other day I was on set and the producer asked if he could hug me when we greeted. I paused, thought and said, “Of course you can!” and we hugged. I then explained to him how thankful I was and how awesome it had been that he asked. Small gestures like that on both sides are needed for us to continue to heal our society.   I have noticed a significant change in my experience with men on sets. I can honestly say I now feel an ease where I once thought I’d have to cope. As an actress in the wild west that is Hollywood, am I able to be as relaxed as a man yet? The answer is no. Do I want that equality? Of course, I do. Women are raised, consciously and unconsciously, to navigate the male ego. Manipulate it, shy from it, but whatever you do for the love of God, do not offend it or make it angry, or you will pay.  A day where I can take a meeting with the opposite sex and not have to worry about how it will go if he advances and I decline, is near. I really do believe that. Thanks to the awareness #MeToo has spread. But we have work to do.   I am curious and willing to learn to be better, the majority of men are too, but we must continue to nurture this dialogue.  Times up,  enough is enough, and after all this progress we’ve made there is still more to learn and more to do.   My only advice I can impart on young women who are navigating through the light and darkness of this industry, is pause. Look around, take a breath, and know that if no one else can,  you  can always look in the mirror and say;   I see you. I know you. And I love you  . Because baby girls , no one is coming to save you . Yes, you will have a break in due time, and people will take chances on you in your career. But remember that the right people will be there when you show up for yourself.      Yours truly,                  An ever-evolving actress in an ever-evolving industry.                                      Andriana Manfredi.            A huge thanks to Andriana for sharing her story on The Modern Actor. At the core, TMA lives as a platform for providing a safe space for rising actors and actresses to share their truths.—E.R.      




               Welcome, I’m Eddie Ramos.   I’m the Founder and Creator of The Modern Actor. With an emphasis on helping young actors navigate through the  beginning of their careers —I offer my thoughts and experiences on the  daily life of being a young actor  in Hollywood to promote both prepared and confident artists. Enter your email below to receive creative tips and discover how to become a leading talent.  



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