I think we all like to think that the past is something that we won't return to. Time, people, and places are all things we have to learn to leave behind in our constant process of reinvention and self discovery. But, this summer taught me something special in thinking about what came before. We need to sometimes retrace our steps in order to remember the person we once were to see how much we've learned and how forward we can actually go. Most of my close friends and family know that I've had a turbulent last few weeks.
I've had days full of laughs leaving my ribs tender and my cheeks are sore from smiling, and there's been nights where I buried my phone away under a mountain of pillows and my only company is a lukewarm Venti soy matcha latte and familiar episodes of Modern Family. In talking to my friends about returning to campus for our senior year, I literally feel so old!, I noticed that my mood has started shifting. From my Instagram posts, to the emojis I'm using again, I'm starting to feel like my old self again. But, I know that's absolutely impossible. Why is that you may ask? Because, in the short few weeks I've been home I've learned so much about myself by going back to my roots.
Like my friend Mallory said, "Things get a thousand times easier when you're in L.A.!" And she's right on the money! Being back home affords me the opportunity to connect with friends and colleague from as far back as high school, to newer members of my circle. From the friends who knew me during my Justin Bieber hair era, to my friends who survived the Hollywood trenches with me last summer, it took going back just to see how far I've come.
"We are always in the process of becoming." It's something my Posse mentor used to tell me when I was going through the thick of it at school. Being an aspiring writer, I'm all about good quotes. And this has become a quote I live by and often share with others when they ask me for advice.
I have learned that along with trusting the process, in my case my journey of navigating the world of entertainment, I also have to trust my skills and talents in the process. In a time where everyone has a smart phone and everyone swears they're an influencer, it can be hard in thinking that I'm destined for a career in something related to new/digital media.
This summer has taught me that comparing myself to others isn't a catalyst for growth, it actually curtails it.
There's no way of describing my summer in a way that makes it seem traditional, and that's because it hasn't been. I jumped from full-time, to unemployed, to giving it my all in a month long internship. All this jumping around made me feel unorganized and I thought that I was regressing as a person and a young professional. However, it was through losing my footing that I saw how my friends and family could help me create an even better platform. As summer winds down and the date creeps up when I have to fly back for Geneva, NY, I have tried my best to give even more depth with the people who pulled me back to me.
"You know for someone so young you have a great sense of voice," said my friend and Academy mentor to me while we talked about my upcoming trip back to school. It's something I have heard before, but hearing it this time I started to actually buy into it.
There a lot of people my age with a lot more followers, better style, and better hair than me. But, I'm not those people. I'm a son, brother, and grandson in a beautiful Latin family, from Los Angeles, CA, who moved to New York to brave the cold. I went from being 20 minutes away from Hollywood to being 2,000 miles away. Yet, because of luck and persistence, I found my way back. I even ended up at one of the biggest awards shows in the world! So yeah, I love snapping my life just like everyone my age, but I also know why I do it. I'm a communicator through writing and through digital media. I do it because I understand how media and identity intersects.
It’s been a few days now that I’ve tried writing this same post, and the only progress I have made in this endeavor is binge watching seasons 3 and 4 of UnREAL and finish bag of savory kale and spinach chips. It’s nearly 3am and this is probably the fifth iteration of this post. So I’m just going to write and put it all out there unfiltered in good ol’ stream of consciousness style.
For anyone who may just be jumping in to read about my escapades, oh you’ve got some catching up to do! The simplest way, and frankly the most boring way to say it without the melodrama and the quarter life crisis, if you can call it that, is that within the span of a week I went from employed on Monday , to quitting my job Tuesday, Wednesday I saw my fellow Academy interns and got inspired, and by Thursday it was my first day at my new job. Most people need a double take and I have gotten tired of having to recreate the scenes that caused this whole week to unfold the way it did. Of course I love talking about my life like I’m pitching my own reality show, I’d just rather save my effort for the time when I actually meet the network head that realaizes the goldmine that is Will Samayoa.
Despite being in a new office, with a new and exciting role with an amazing team and amazing projects, I’m still feeling stagnant. Like today, I came back from having lunch with a friend and my plan was to grab drinks and then go out with two other friends. Instead of having a #TGIF worthy Friday, I ended up staying in and binge watching the aforementioned show. At one point, I stood up and walked over to the bathroom mirror. The floor was cold under my bare feet, my contacts were dry and itching after enduring a full day on, and surprisingly my hair hadn’t gone flat or started to curl like it usually does by the end of the day. For the most part, I looked pretty normal, I would even say decent. And so I thought to myself, ‘Why haven’t you done more today?’
I thought long and hard, even wrote down things I could have been doing with my time, and Italy hit me like that rogue soccer ball that have a minor concussion my first year in high school. It was fast, unexpected and unpleasant. I had no legitimate reason to not be doing more with my day.
Every coin has two sides, and every story doesn’t have a happy ending. These are just some basic facts I’m stating, and the fact is that I recently put in my week notice to quit my current job. While the call to my boss took less than 5 minutes, I’ve had many hour-long conversations with dozens of people just to speak into reality.
Quitting is what I did, but I don’t feel like a quitter. I actually feel like a winner.
I consider myself a winner because it was through this turbulent experience that I learned how to step back and see everyone who is standing with me. It seemed like everyday after work I was FaceTiming or texting someone. Sometimes I needed a pep talk, and sometimes I just wanted to commiserate. As the days ticked away, I kept reaching out to friends, family, and members of my network who I hadn't communicated with in a while. Hearing them speak about my talents and worth seemed corny, but I love them so much for doing that! The more I heard it the more I began to buy into it. Seeking out positivity helped me internalize it, and then project it too. Knowing that other people around me were also drowning in the sea of life made it more bearable. But, all I was doing was going mad.
I’ve had the fortune, and I’d even say privilege, of always working in offices where respect, inclusivity, and decency where just part of the environment like the water fountains everyone huddles around to gossip in between breaks. I share all this to acknowledge why I think my story matters. But, I want to recognize that there are stories and experiences much worse than mine, just turn on the news and you’ll see headlines. From racism, to #MeToo and Time’s Up, we are in the middle of a cultural revolution. We're fighting for decency to be as common in corporate America as the coffee we drink and donuts we eat on Monday mornings. What a time to be alive...
This is one-million percent cheesy to say, like sooo cheesy that if your lactose intolerant please skip this next sentence, but in working up the courage to quit I really get what Ariana Grande means when she says, "The light is coming to give back everything the darkness stole."
When it came down to choosing where I would be working this summer I was torn between my current position, a PR assistant at a small PR agency, and two iconic media companies. I really don't know why I didn't make the obvious choice and shoot for the studio, but I've learned to not dwell on that mistake. Instead, I've tried to turn this into a learning experience. The thing I learned from this summer is that I have to follow my gut, and always remember my talents and worth.
At the company I'm currently at the only skills that seemed to be valued were submission and silence. Conversations with my boss eventually became one sided, with me just nodding and saying, "Yes," because I knew that my opinion was not what she wanted. She just wanted someone to agree with her. Whether it was 11am or 11pm, my boss didn't seem to care and she expected that any text she sent me was met with a readiness to work. Now, in talking to friends of mine, some who are assistants and some who even have assistants, I began to realize that this had nothing to do with work. It was my boss just trying to flex her power over me. She would scream on the phone to me, "I don't wait on anyone." And she seemed to believe that the whole world had to follow her rules.
I would feel gross, yes gross, having to call people at random hours of the day and even leave them text messages just because my boss wanted things done her way. She said she hated to micro-manage, but yet she made me CC her on every email I sent and she would always want me to start group chats when I was trying to reach someone. This irked me because I'm someone who believes that everyone works at their own pace and at the end of the day the job will get done. The worst offense came when she blatantly cursed me out in front of the other former assistant. Yeah, there was another assistant but she was fired when she had to tell my boss that she had to work an event in order to make some cash since working for my boss was an unpaid internship for her.
"Fuck your feelings," is what my boss screamed to me. The other intern had no idea what to say. I had no idea how to react. It was after this interaction that I began to really grasp the magnitude of how bad my boss conducted her business. From lying to clients to arguing with heads of departments, she seemed to think that she was untouchable. Once again, this gross display of power did not align with me. It was messy. It was embarrassing. It was unproductive. I sat down one day after having gone through hell and back to deliver some award show tickets to ask myself what I was learning this summer. If I was going to be slaving away there had to be a purpose to it. Right? Actually, there wasn't.
Nothing about enduring this disrespect was making me a better communicator. I guess you could say I learned that the agency route probably isn't for me. But, that's not something I can put down on my resume now is it. Nope. Honestly, it sucks knowing that I wasted my summer working somewhere that actually curtailed my career instead of helped nurture it. With only a few weeks left before school starts, I'm scared to admit that I don't know what's next. All I can hope for right now is that everything smooths out well and that everyone who stood by me then is standing on the other side to catch me when I've officially jumped ship.
Click on the button below to read my most recent article published by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
Between being invited to be a panelist for the Academy GOLD Program's 2018 orientation and getting published (again) by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, I've got a whole lot to be grateful for. And while I should already be anticipating my next move, I'm slowing down to relish in the love and success I've garnered in this moment. There are so many people who love to live life in the HOV lane. And I used to think I was one of those people. But, after some time working at a high octane pace, I'm starting to develop a greater appreciation for the idea of "just chilling."
I used to scoff, and even be offended, when my friend Will would say, "Will just chill for a second." I would get so mad and say, "Excuse me! Did you forget that my brand is No Chill Will?!" The persona No Chill Will was something I made my first year of college. It was my way of ensuring that people knew my name and that they knew to invite me to their parties. Truth is, it actually worked. Upper class men used to cheer when I would walk into a room, and it became usual for people vying to be featured on my Snapchat story. It got to the point where I had like 300 friends on Snapchat, and my Instagram had broken the 1k mark.
It was enticing, alluring, and intoxicating imagining that I was a C list celebrity in a G-list town. Reality soon took the filters off of my perspective and introduced me to the 9 to 5 schedule, monochromatic office spaces, and bank draining reality that is life outside of college. This is when I started to really dig myself into a hole.
It was before I left for my semester abroad that I was gifted journals from friends. "Will you're such a good writer," said one friend. "You love to write, so come back with some stories," wrote me another on the first page. I was given all kinds of gifts and notes of encouragement, but the notes that stuck with me the most were those encouraging me to keep refining my voice.
The voice. What is voice? How do you know your voice? These are all questions that are paramount in my courses. They are also questions that are answered differently by each person, and I'd say that tells you about that person's voice.
My voice has been described as being, "sharp," "witty," "bold," and sometimes even, "critical." Everyone who knows me knows I write stuff. Articles, blog posts, captions for social media, etc. My friend Will once laughed at an essay I wrote for The Martini, HWS's satirical magazine. He said, "Oh wow. You write the way you speak."
I thought to myself, 'Doesn't everyone?' Truth is, no.
Since I went abroad, I've tried to write something everyday. Especially, in the journal given to me by my friend and career mentor Xhana. It's a gorgeous black book with the logo of Paramount Studios pressed onto the cover. Every time I write in this book a wave of emotions overcomes me. I imagine that one of the lines I wrote could lead to a Hollywood blockbuster, or the start of some award winning speech, or a NY Times bestselling book.
Writing is more than therapy for me. It's my lifeline. It's my blood. It helps exercise my spirit. Being a journalist may be in my future, being an author is unlikely. All I know is that what ever I do in my life I want my voice to be always be connecting with people. I want to tell my story and hope that it makes people feel something. Laugh. Cry. Scream. Any visceral reaction really. Because, it's nice to work for someone and help them develop their story, but for me, it's so much more fulfilling when my story can take center stage.
I cannot believe I'm saying this, but here I am a month into being a PR assistant and I still have my sanity! At least I think I do...
Honestly, this was not the summer experience I had dreamed of. And when I mean dream, I actually mean it. I had a calendar where I used to mark out the boxes until my last day in Geneva, NY because I couldn't wait to break back into the Hollywood scene in the most Will way ever. Sometimes, I would even work out extra hard, or do some unnecessary readings, anything to tire myself out just so I could start a new day closer to flying back to LA. It's a bit heartbreaking to think about how a few weeks ago my friends and I were blasting "Doses & Mimosas" on a catamaran, to now be in cramped offices accompanied by recycled air and the fear of a ringing phone. Things are so bad for me now that every time my phone lights up my anxiety levels rise and I fear for the worst; a call or text from work.
It's a no brainer that no one likes being an assistant. But, it's sort of a right of passage for anyone with dreams of corporate America. For those with dreams of working in show biz, than staring in your own version of The Devil Wears Prada is a something that you prepare for mentally, spiritually, and physically. Because, it is a literal hell on Earth.
Some things I'm doing are staples of PR, like crafting pitches and pulling media lists. But, some things are just plain errands that you would think I'm making up. Yet, I can assure you that I've had to make nail appointments and even run to the post office to drop off an envelope. I wanted a summer where I would be learning invaluable skills that would better equip me for my journey advancing in the world of entertainment. But, I'm not sure what of this so far is PR work and what is petty work.
In between getting ripped a new one and being complimented for my work ethic, I'll hear some quote worthy moments. "You have to know what it is you'll do to deal with it," my boss said. "For example, some people do drugs and others become addicted to people. You have to find what your thing is." I think my way of coping, and finding the light again, comes from people. I've called and texted more friends, family, and colleagues, in this past month than I ever think I have before. Whether I'm on a 5 minute Facetime call, an hour long venting session, or texting away my evening, knowing that I have people who believe in me and appreciate me has been such a good way of dealing with my life as an assistant.
With one month down, I think about the 6 weeks I have left of work. I've started to think that quitting could be my salvation. Yet, it could also be my ultimate damnation out of the world of entertainment. I'm stuck in between a rock and a hard place. Before I decide if I'm going to quit or stay I will continue to take deep breaths, call my friends when I need to vent, and wait for my check to clear...