Saturday, June 15

Bruins in Hollywood: Rise of Social Media

Photo credit: Ava Johnson

Social media is a growing force in the entertainment industry. In the last episode of this four-part miniseries, actress Caitlin Carmichael and social media influencer Sophie Silva discuss their next steps and experience in the film industry with Podcasts contributors Jackson Wooton and Hela Khalil.

Jackson Wooton: My name is Jackson Wooton, and I’m here with my coworker Hela Khalil. We’re both podcast contributors for the Daily Bruin. On this episode, we’ll be joined by actress Caitlin Carmichael, who recently starred in the movie, “Roadkill.” She has a growing social media presence and is now going on to graduate school. We’re also joined by Sophie Silva, a social media influencer now exploring the film industry from both sides of the camera. We’re super excited to hear from these UCLA upperclassmen about their experience with social media and the entertainment industry!

Welcome to the Daily Bruin! We’re so excited to have both of you here today. Why don’t we just jump right into it? Could you both tell us a little bit about what each of you do for entertainment and how you got started? We can start with Sophie.

Sophie Silva: So I have not been in this space for a very long time. I feel in comparison to Caitlin, I feel we have a very good perspective on this because we have someone who’s been in this for a long time versus me, who’s low-key just starting out. Okay, so I am both a content creator on social media, and then I’m also involved in film and television in multiple areas without whether that’s also acting in front of the camera, behind the camera. I originally started on social media posting on TikTok. This sounds super personal, but I started by sharing my story recovering from binge eating disorder, and I’m super open about that online. It resonated with a lot of people, literally gained 300,000 followers in a month, which I feel like I seemingly came into this platform overnight, which is crazy. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past year, is posting a lot on TikTok, Instagram. I’ve kind of ventured out into posting more lifestyle, fashion, college-related content on there. And then recently, I’ve also been getting more involved in film and television. So I did an internship with the Television Academy Foundation, which does the Emmys, this past summer. Interned at the talent agency actually. Also did an externship at UTA. So I have a lot of stuff to discuss on the agency side, if anyone’s curious about that. And then the past few months, I’ve been doing more acting-related stuff. But I’m still like, student films, trying to get on set as much as possible, a lot of unpaid work, so I’m not getting paid a lot. I’m very booked and busy for unpaid stuff, which has honestly been so fun, though, and I’ve met so many interesting people. So I want to say my main three things that I’m doing in life right now are social media, film and television, like acting, and then being at UCLA.

Caitlin Carmichael: Okay, that was such an impressive answer. You just put it all together. Like, also, those internships are so hard to get, like at the Television Academy. That’s so impressive. I’m so happy for you.

SS: Thank you!

CC: That’s so cool. I felt I was listening to a podcast. So my name is Caitlin. I started… Honestly, I feel we’ve had, like, polar opposite journeys, like roles reversed I guess. I started off on the traditional film and television side when I was three and a half. I was originally born in a small town in Georgia, like very South Georgia, almost Florida. We’re getting so south. My mom and grandma and I came out to LA on vacation when I was three and a half with a group of moms of kids who wanted to get into the industry, and we had no idea what that was but just wanted an excuse to come to LA with this group of moms and kids from Atlanta. And while we were trying to do all of the touristy things, put our toes in the Pacific Ocean and see Hollywood Boulevard, we had to go to a couple of seminars just to be a part of this big group trip. And an agent ended up approaching me and asking if my three-year-old very extroverted self would be interested in being in a movie. And, to my mom and grandma, they were like, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity! Who’s ever gonna ask us this again?” So we agreed to fly back and forth, and after my mom called in sick for work so I could go on my first TV show audition, flying literally from Georgia to LA, auditioning for a TV show and flying back all in a day, I ended up booking it and yes, my mom had to confess to her boss she wasn’t actually sick and she actually flew her three-year-old daughter to a TV show audition in Los Angeles, and everyone thought we were crazy. After I ended up working my first job out here, I was so fortunate that it kind of felt like doors kept opening and really showing my mom and me this is where we’re supposed to be for some reason. And I just completely fell in love with it. Was also obsessed with Hannah Montana at the time, which I think really helped.

SS: Classic.

CC: Such a classic. And I loved being on set from such a young age and always wanted to continue doing this, and my mom quit her job so that I could stay here doing what I love. And she also really prioritized me … Okay, this is, I’m so not even answering the question. Giving my whole life story. But helped me be a real kid at the same time and really, really instilled the value of education in me. So I fell into this industry kind of by accident and was really blessed to continue working throughout my childhood. And I had been doing independent study online school my entire life, so when I was 14, I had enough credits to graduate. So my guidance counselor was like, you should go ahead, take the SAT, take the ACT.

SS: At 14?

CC: At 14. And while I was actually working on a TV show in Salt Lake City, Utah, so I like, took my SAT in Provo, Utah, where I knew no one. I drank my first Red Bull there.

JW: Wild.

CC: But she was like, you know, “Shoot your shot if you’re college-bound. Apply to your dream schools because what if you get in? You know, you’re way younger than anyone else in your class would be, but would you want to turn down the opportunity to go ahead and start working towards a degree?” So I ended up getting into UCLA, which had been my dream school since I was six, I think. Grown up coming here to gymnastics meets and soccer games with my team. And being at UCLA the past four years as someone who is working in the entertainment industry has been so incredibly valuable because it has just opened up my eyes to so many different ways that I’ve been able to expand my network and really think about taking creative control of what I want to do. So alongside of being an actress, I’ve started to explore film producing. And I actually just applied for my master’s program and got accepted here at UCLA. So…

Everyone: Congratulations!

CC: So, they can’t get rid of me yet. So yeah, like, three things right now. Continuing working in acting in the entertainment industry. UCLA can’t get rid of me yet. So I’ll be here as a grad student in the Film and Television school studying at the producers program. And also thinking about expanding my work behind the camera and producing and developing my own content in the entertainment industry.

Hela Khalil: That’s amazing.

SS: That was so much better than my answer!

CC: That was so long, I’m so sorry!

SS: No because I’m enthralled by your story. I feel I just learned, like, it sounds like you’ve lived a million lives. And I’m obsessed. Like that’s crazy.

CC: I think that’s what I love about acting so much is that growing up, there were so many different things that I’ve always wanted to do and dream careers and things that you don’t have to pick one. And you can like, be so many people, even if it is playing pretend.

SS: And you travel, too! You meet so many people.

CC: Travel, meet so many people. And even just taking on different people’s personas, and as you get older, playing people who have different careers, you get to kind of tap into that.

SS: It gives you a lot of perspective, too.

CC: Absolutely.

JW: It seems like both of you have had very different experiences coming into the industry.

SS: Yeah, that’s what I… I love though because we can both like, give different perspectives.

JW: Yeah.

CC: And very similar too, like with school…

SS: I feel like my journey has just been condensed into like, this one year of like… This past year has just been insane.

JW: Has it been difficult per se, to kind of break into the industry for both of you necessarily? I mean, you grew up and had to transition into like, an adult, actor, worker. And you just started.

CC: I have been very fortunate to be exposed to really great experiences of working on set from a young age and also shielded from a lot of the horrors that other people experienced as a child actor because there’s definitely a stigma with that that’s there for a reason.

SS: Oh, that documentary, “Quiet on Set” just came out, and everyone’s talking.

CC: So everyone thinks, “Oh you’re a child actor,” and, I’m not… I am okay, mentally, like I’m doing fine. But I am so thankful to have really kept my childhood and been sheltered from the crazy world of Hollywood. But as I’m transitioning into an adult career, it’s… I’m having to kind of relearn it for the first time because being the kid on set, you’re not even excluded, but you’re just left out of a lot of the business negotiations and creative ideas, but…

SS: You have to rely on a lot of people, too.

CC: Right, you’re relying on people, and you can kind of just float around and have fun. But as I’m becoming an adult, I want to have more creative control over projects I’m doing, and I’m trying to really learn what it means to be a director, what it means to be a producer and explore all of those different realms as well. So I did my first internship at a production company on the development side this past quarter because I was thinking about applying to grad school, and I was like, “Am I in over my head?” I have experience in front of the camera, but I really want to show that I can hold my own behind the camera as well. And it’s been so insightful. Like, just learning about the industry from a completely new perspective of someone who doesn’t know me as the kid on the set anymore, it’s been really valuable.

SS: Yeah, that’s amazing. Well, I feel for me, I mean, like I said, it’s only been a year. I’m from Texas, my dad is a radiologist, my mom’s a stay-at-home mom. And I really don’t have, like, I didn’t have any connections in the industry at all before this year. So that was kind of me being forced to really forge my own path and figure out, like, how the heck am I going to do this because, throughout my internship, and just from everything I’ve learned, relationships are monumental in this industry. And I’ve been able to use a lot of relationships to my advantage as well that I’ve created this past year. But I will say when I was first starting out, I was a little intimidated because I did not understand. It’s honestly a much more complex industry than you would expect. And I was like, how, how do I start? I mean, and I had this platform on social media, which I will say opened a lot of doors, and that’s why I’m always like, very, like I encourage other people, like if you’re open to it, putting yourself out there on social media really helps a lot in this industry. And so because I didn’t really have a lot of family connections, I was like, “Okay, I’ll start out by doing the internship.” I interned at a talent agency. I’m now signed with that talent agency for acting, and I was able to kind of have that relationship with them before I was actually represented by them.

CC: That’s so cool.

SS: Yeah, so that’s something that really helped. And then another really big thing, too, that I’ve been trying to focus on doing because I didn’t have any prior connections is not only networking with people who are higher up, but networking with your peers. Everyone in my cohort of my internship group at the Television Academy, we are all such close friends. We try to get together at least once a month. We have been working on each other’s sets. We’ve really just been keeping up with each other’s careers because it’s so… These are the people you’re going to be working with in like, five years, 10 years. You never know where everyone’s gonna end up. We’re always joking around with each other and being like, “Okay, hey, I’ll see you at the Emmys in 10 years. You’re gonna be up there on that stage.” You know? So I mean, I just… For anyone who does want to get started out and feels like it’s too late, because I will say for me personally, I remember talking to one of my co-workers at the agency I was working at, I was like, and I really wanted to do acting because it’s something that I did in high school, middle school, and something that I enjoy, but I’d never done screen acting in LA. And I asked him, I said, “Is it too late to start?” I mean, I was just being honest because like, there’s people insanely talented. Like you who’s been doing this since you were three, and so many young actors who have been at this and are like, winning awards at the ages of, 14,15. I was, oh my gosh, I don’t know if I’m able to get my foot in the door because I’m like, so old. Me saying that as I was literally 21. But he told me that the best time is now. That all you can do is start. I mean, you don’t want to look, look back in 10 years and be like, “Oh, I wish I had started 10 years ago,” or five years ago, you know, stuff like that. So it’s like, I think it’s like you, you never know. Put yourself out there. And that’s what I’m trying to do right now, even though it’s only been a year.

HK: I love that. So inspiring to hear both of your stories. And obviously, you guys have very different paths to getting into this industry, which is really interesting and cool to hear about. So although you do have differing entry points into this industry, something that both of you have in common, which you touched on a little bit, is that you’re both currently students at UCLA. UCLA is obviously renowned for its film and TV program. You’re going to be studying here for your masters, which is so exciting. And UCLA is at the center of LA, which is where everything happens in regards to entertainment and social media. So how has your experience as UCLA students in particular helped shape your careers or hopeful careers in entertainment? We can start with Sophie.

SS: I’m gonna be completely straightforward with this first one. UCLA is like, a global brand. It’s one of the most applied-to schools in the nation. Everyone kind of knows the name. So that’s definitely something that’s helped a lot in terms of branding on social media and also just making new connections. I don’t know.

CC: It attributes to your reputation too, just by being a student here because we were talking about this before we started, but you’re surrounded by so many smart, talented people.

SS: Yeah.

CC: And I feel people are like, “Oh, well you’re you’re one of them.” Okay. Then like, we know you have something.

SS: It’s insane. And you were… I’m pretty sure we were in the same producing class last quarter with…

CC: With Alex?

SS: Alex Franklin. He made a really good point. Yes.

CC: In winter? I took that class two years ago, and I literally went back because I liked it so much just to sit there and listen to his lectures.

SS: So you were auditing it?

CC: I was literally just auditing it for fun.

SS: I remember seeing you in one of the classes. And he made a really good point. He said, “I have a few, a magic phrase I want all of you to use when you’re applying to jobs. I want you to cold-call people, and I want you to use the magic phrase, ‘I go to UCLA,'” and people, people in the industry love that. And I mean, I’m just gonna be really straightforward about that. And then the other obvious thing is location. It’s like no other where you’re literally right next to Hollywood. You have Burbank with all the studios driving distance away. And I’m sure you can attest to this, too. But it’s so unique in that you can go to class in the morning, drive to an audition or drive to set later that night. And do both of those things on the same day. And I think that’s another thing that just… you can’t find that a lot. I remember when I was applying to colleges, I knew I wanted to be in LA because I was like, I really want to get involved in the entertainment industry in some way. And like Caitlin said, there’s just so many creative people, there’s so many opportunities, there’s always people who want actors, ADs, people for their set, everywhere. So there’s just so much opportunity. And it’s almost hard to miss all that. Can’t say more on that.

CC: Absolutely. I know. I mean, I honestly had the same thought process when I was applying to colleges. I literally only applied to, well, I applied to Harvard, just because, but I applied to here, USC, Pepperdine. I think that was it because I knew that I was working in the entertainment industry. And realistically, I didn’t want to… One, I was so young when I applied. But I didn’t want to pack up my life and move somewhere that I wouldn’t have all of this at my fingertips. And funnily enough, one of my best friends went to a college in the Pacific Northwest for her first year, and she’s grown up in LA her whole life with family that works in the industry. She didn’t really see herself being a part of that, but as soon as she left LA, she was miserable. To grow up having all of this at your fingertips that you don’t even realize how grateful you are for it.

SS: She probably took it for granted.

CC: She just came home immediately. So now she’s transferring. But you don’t realize if you’ve grown up here, sometimes, how much is here until you don’t have that anymore. So that definitely put a lot into perspective for us. But specifically on campus, I think just the social groups and student organizations at this school are so valuable for making connections and opportunities. Like, my experience in Greek life has really opened a lot of doors for me. UCLA REACH is another club that…

SS: Yeah, UCLA REACH is great.

CC: The alumni network here, like, people are so willing to help you. If it doesn’t feel that way, you’re talking to the wrong people.

SS: There’s definitely people out there, yeah.

HK: That’s something I love about UCLA. I am constantly reminded that I’m very supported, and the school pride here is next level.

CC: Yeah. Imagine if you brought people on this podcast who hated this school.

SS: We love it! That stereotype of UCLA students will never let you forget that they go to UCLA. It’s like, oh, did I mention I go to UCLA? I have my hoodie.

HK: In the airport, that’s all I wear.

SS: Oh, 100%. Every single time I’m flying from Texas to LA, I’m wearing UCLA. I’m never taking UCLA out of my Instagram bio, even if I have to put alum right next to it. I don’t care if I’m a 70-year-old woman, if Instagram’s even still around, I’m gonna have UCLA alum on there.

CC: I’m excited about that for our generation. Like, snapchatting our grandkids.

JW: I don’t really…

SS: What’s it, what is it gonna look like in 20 years? Oh, my gosh.

HK: I think both of you are graduating this quarter, right?

CC and SS: Yes.

JW: Scary.

HK: Exciting, right.

CC: I’ve been transitioning out of it a little bit, because last quarter, I guess actually finished my degree. So I have not been taking classes right now and just have a little bit of downtime before I walk, which was honestly nice, because I eased myself out of that transition a little bit, but I still am, you know, involved and doing things with friends. And I was like, “Oh, let me just apply to grad school so I don’t have to face the real world yet.” But graduation is scary.

SS: It is.

CC: Like, just the thought of actually being done, even though I have been. I got the alert that my diploma is ready for pickup. But I haven’t walked across that stage and done it, so I’m just kind of ignoring the fact that it’s real life. But as June 14 gets closer…

SS: That date has worked on my calendar, and I’ve also been looking at it but it’s just, it’s weird because it feels like it went by so fast. I feel like especially for us and you too, because your college experience has been so interesting, and with COVID, literally we started online, and I didn’t even transition into this entertainment space until what, my junior and senior year of college, and I wish I had that freshman and sophomore year where I knew that that was what I wanted to do to take advantage of those resources. But luckily though, being here in LA, I plan on staying in LA after graduating, and I will say it’s nice knowing that I don’t have to move to an entirely new city, if that makes sense.

CC: I feel a lot of alumni stay close by, or even in Westwood still, which is fun.

SS: 100%. And that’s one of the biggest things that I ask a lot of my friends who are also in my film and television classes. I’m like, “Hey, are you staying in LA?” They say, “Yeah,” I’m like, okay, I literally have a note sheet where I wrote down all the names of my friends who are staying in LA so like I know that. Because it’s just… It. It’s a huge city. And it can get lonely because I have friends who moved here from Chicago from, East Coast. And it’s just, it’s a little scary moving to a city and not knowing anyone. I think that’s the one really good thing about being at UCLA is you’ve kind of already formed those connections and you know there’s still going to be fellow Bruins here right down the street that if you need something, you can trust them. So.

JW: Yeah, I mean, now that y’all are sort of ending that era, and it’s bringing a lot of emotions, do you have any advice for students who are up-and-coming in the entertainment industry who want to break in, who are trying to manage being at school while also going out into the industry? We can start with Caitlin.

CC: You could tell that I was thinking about it.

JW: Yeah, I saw it.

CC: I would say, even if you aren’t a film major, that’s fine. I wasn’t a film major. I did a film minor, but it was solely just for fun.

SS: Wait, what’s your major?

CC: I was American lit and culture and sociology.

SS: Okay, I’m a global studies major.

CC: That’s fun.

SS: We’re not even… I feel this is a great perspective.

CC: Did you do the film minor?

SS: I didn’t. But I still did a lot of film and television classes and extracurricular activities. So I feel like we’re the perfect example of you don’t have to major in it.

CC: Absolutely.

SS: You don’t have to be a film major.

CC: You know, you can apply for whatever you want, whatever people in your hometown or your parents are telling you you have to go to school for even if you know you want to make movies. That’s fine. Just come here. It’ll be fine. And take a film class. I feel like that’s a UCLA thing, of everyone tries to take one film class before they graduate. You have to.

SS: You have to. It’s a rite of passage.

CC: But rely on your professors. I wish I had started doing this sooner, of actually getting to know my professors instead of just going to lecture for some of my classes and doing the homework but not actually making personal connections because in the film department, when I started completing my minor and making the effort to go to office hours and talk to my professors about, “This is what I want to do, how, you know, how can you help me? What advice can you give me? What can I learn from you,” it completely changed my experience. And we were talking about me auditing that class, that is one of my favorite professors.

SS: I didn’t even know that. I didn’t know you had already taken that class already. That goes to show how good of a job he does.

CC: He did an amazing job. And he was one of my letters of recommendation for the master’s program. Because I reached out to him and I was like, “I want to apply here. I know that you teach here. What I need to know before applying?”

SS: Yeah.

CC: I also have never done an internship. And he was able to open the doors to his office for me and invite me to the management company where he works.

SS: He’s at Zero Gravity, right?

CC: Yes and meet the other interns who were there who were also UCLA students. Professors often will hire students in their classes or people who have just come out of their classes to intern for them, and helped me through my application process, introduced me to people in the admissions department to go to and guided me so much. And all I had to do was ask. There are so many resources here, but it’s so important that you kind of have to make that first step and take advantage of them. And I feel like once you do, again, people are so willing to help you.

JW: In terms like, socially, do you have any tips managing such a massive workload while also doing real-life industry work and still maintaining friends?

SS: I’m gonna be completely honest. I’m still figuring a lot of this stuff out myself because I, this past few months, I’ve been trying to get on set as much as possible, and I kind of have a bad habit of saying yes to everything because I’m eager to work, meet people. As Caitlin said, I love being on set, I don’t care if it’s a 12-14 hour day or something like that. I just, I think it’s so much fun. And it’s time consuming, though. And I fully didn’t go out and have fun for like, two months straight. And I was like, “you know, what am I doing?” And I realize that it’s so important to find that balance with yourself because being, socializing is a part of who we are as humans. You can’t not have… and even though I was getting some of that on set, I missed my friends who weren’t in the industry, and I missed being able to see them and hang out with them. So, I think I made a TikTok or something was talking about this, but I ended up kind of backing out of another job that… it was something I let them know way ahead of time, and I found a replacement and everything, but it was one of those things I was kind of I kept getting sick, I was under the weather, so busy, wasn’t sleeping, really wasn’t giving myself time to heal and recover. I literally had strep throat, a sinus infection. Guys, I literally got so sick so much. And I was like, okay, give me that moment where I was I really need to take a step back.

CC: Your body is like stop!

SS: Well, yeah. And it’s, and you’re saying, you need a lot of self care, I also need a lot of self care, I need sleep, I need to make sure that I’m staying on top of my personal health as well. So I think it’s important to… You can, you’re allowed to say no to things sometimes. And, as much as I say put yourself out there, find a good… everyone’s different and needs a different amount of rest time, but I think it’s really important to also write things down and really plan things ahead, your schedule. And even if that’s socializing, I will put in my calendar, lunch with this friend, or going out with these friends because it’s, I want to remember that’s on there. And I want to commit my time to those friends. And I hate canceling on people. I hate doing that. I don’t want to be flaky with, like, socialization. So that’s why it’s important to really, allow yourself to have time to be with friends and do things that you enjoy, too. And there’s a way, like, it’s possible to do both. I will say it’s not easy, but I mean, you’ve got to just… I’m a senior, and I’m still learning this. And it’s, I feel like we all will still be learning this throughout our 20s because that’s what it is being a young adult.

CC: I agree with the calendar thing. I never used my calendar up until the past year, and one of my best friends, she’s about to PA her first short film, and is like working her internship the whole time.

SS: Yeah, being a PA is a lot.

CC: And a bunch of social stuff just came up. And she was like, “I don’t know how I’m gonna do everything.” And I was like, “Actually, it’s not gonna be that much when you put it in your calendar and realize how much time in the day it actually is.” It looks way less daunting when it’s, rather than just a long to-do list, if it’s in your calendar.

SS: Exactly.

CC: But on the other hand, I feel this is literally just gonna sound daunting now, but like we said, these four years do go by really quickly, and UCLA is the most fun school. It can be really easy to get lost in trying to find your people and have fun and discover who you are that I think it’s so important to find friends, even if they don’t have the same aspirations as you, to find friends that cheer you on for what you want to do and don’t make you feel bad for saying no to a night out because you want to be rested before an interview the next day. Don’t be peer pressured into prioritizing things differently and learning to prioritize your socializing and also balancing that with work is really important, and it can be really difficult but surrounding yourself with people who love you no matter if you’re being super social or you haven’t seen them all week because you’ve been busy grinding working towards something or even just staying in.

SS: Which is another thing, we’re literally still students. We have essays due. I remember my dad told me this, Oh my gosh, this is totally not true. But he used to say there’s this triangle when you’re in college. So you can either have good grades, sleep and a social life. He says you can only get two. I was like, “That is the worst advice ever.” Okay, guys, it’s possible to do it all.

CC: That’s kinda accurate though.

SS: But, if you scaled back on some of them. There’s been points for a few months where I’ve been able to somehow figure out all three. But it’s true that you do have to make certain sacrifices in specific areas in order to excel at other areas. I mean, that’s just life because, there is time in the day, but at the same time, it’s like, where I’m looking at my watch, and I’m like, “How is it 7 p.m. already?”

CC: But I’ll also spend an hour and a half scrolling on TikTok. I could be so much more productive with my hours.

SS: We’re still Gen Z, I can’t help it. I need my TikTok bed rot time. Sorry, I schedule that into my day, too.

CC: That’s literally what I’m going to go home and do.

SS: that’s a part of your self care though.

CC: It’s not good for my self care.

SS: Being a creator too, because I post a lot on TikTok and Instagram sometimes I’ll chalk it up to being like, “Oh, this is me working because you know I’m getting ideas for my videos I’m being inspired by other creators.” No.

CC: My For You page is so weird. I just get the weirdest videos. It could never be justified.

SS: Yeah me watching all my celebrity men edits.

CC: I know. I’m obsessed with reality TV and celebrity gossip like Deux Moi.

JW: Oh yeah, the clips.

JW: Well, actually speaking of TikTok, this brings up a good point.

HK: Okay, so both of you kind of play this role of being the college big sister on the internet.

CC: I’m going to go stalk your TikTok!

HK: How do y’all think social media has made the entertainment industry more personable, relatable and accessible?

SS: Well, first of all, like I was saying earlier, social media is literally the reason I was able to really jumpstart my career. So I think it’s added just this whole new level of being able to connect with people in ways that you… I’m trying to also figure out the best way to say this, but it’s, it’s so easy to pick up your phone and record a TikTok video and post it, it’s, something, we… this is so still so new to us too, because I feel TikTok only, been a really big thing since, what 2019, 2018? Yeah, something like that. And it’s just anyone, anyone can make content and put it out there. And I think that’s something we really need to take advantage of. Like I said earlier, I just always encourage people, if you have an idea, if you have something you’re passionate about, click Record, and post it. You never know. Like, I had no idea when I was posting my “What I eat in a day” recovering from my binge-eating that those videos would get millions of views. And I got so many messages from people saying, “Oh my gosh, your videos have helped me so much. I’m so, I finally feel there’s someone posting about this. I always felt so alone when I was struggling.” And the fact that I was connecting with people on that level who I’ve never met was just beyond me. And, not only that for entertainment itself too, for film and television, it also helps because the industries are pretty adjacent to each other, so it just I feel you can.

CC: No, I don’t think I can say it better than that. And I’m like, you know, how amazing that you’ve been able to use your platforms to help in such a vulnerable way.

JW: Yeah. Do you all feel as if there’s a pressure to open up? I mean, especially when you’re an actor, there’s a sense that you have to tell a lot about your life to connect with your fans.

SS: Honestly I think about that a lot sometimes, too, because it’s how sometimes I’m realizing how vulnerable I’m making myself online. But then I’m like, well, so first of all, I’m not mysterious.

CC: That’s vulnerable in an important way though.

SS: Yeah. And it’s like, but I feel at the same time there could be this is kind of unrelated to the content that I posted, I feel there’s this relatability aspect of social media that’s become so prevalent where it’s like you kind of have to be relatable in order for people to want to follow you, and I feel it’s created some… I feel there’s a level of performative relatability in a way. This is like starting a whole dialogue that is kind of off-topic.

CC: No yeah, that’s kind of, when you said social media, that’s kind of what I was thinking as well. Maybe that is a hot take, but there can be a lot of pressure now that while social media, from just an entertainment industry perspective, it opens so many doors for people nationwide, internationally to work in this industry, who never would have been able to in the 80s or 90s, even early 2000s I guess, come to LA to go into a casting room and audition for something. Like that wouldn’t have been a possibility that you could get from being scouted off TikTok nowadays, but now because it is such an oversaturated industry. Everyone is on their phone all the time. Which is also …

SS: It’s slightly unfortunate for people who like don’t… some people don’t want to put their entire lives and existence on social media. And especially if they’re in the acting space, that’s unfortunate if… not all casting directors care about this, but there are some who will look at your social media and like, I think there’s this one student film that I got cast in that like, part of them wanting me to sign on to the project was me agreeing to post their stuff on my socials or I feel it’s definitely played a factor for them. And I feel it’s unfortunate for some actors or people who want to get involved on set, I hope that’s not a barrier in a way. I feel for the most part it’s not, but every once in a while, it can be a little tricky.

CC: I do agree that I am one of the people who thinks that it can be really toxic.

SS: Being pragmatic, I feel we’re looking at it from both perspectives.

CC: Yes. From both perspectives. I think my piece of advice would be, yes, it is scary that whatever you put out on the internet will be there forever.

SS: Yeah, digital footprint.

CC: So be relatable and vulnerable intentionally. Think about the things that you want to share with the internet and, you know, sharing things that are important to you and close to your heart or, you know, are very important. But you know, there are some things that, don’t feel pressured to be hyper relatable or telling your most embarrassing stories because there is a big culture of that on TikTok too, especially in college.

SS: Oh my gosh, I’ve seen short videos where it’s like, this should not be here.

CC: Yeah, I like hearing those because TMI is never TMI to me. I love gossipy stories, but I’m like, I don’t know if I would then like to want to have an on brand college story TikTok. If that happened to me, I don’t know if I’d make a TikTok about it, and also just the performative relatability. Growing up with a lot of people who did social media, especially in the early YouTube stage, it was crazy how much people were fake for the internet.

SS: Oh, 100 percent.

CC: And, I just knew so many people who were all dating, just for the… through the gaze of social media, and they were not actually dating, but it was always the guy would lead the girl on to think they were dating. Like this is fully been attempted to be done to me multiple times. The guy will lead the girl on in hopes that they’ll get to make a bunch of cute couples Tiktoks together. It’s just weird.

SS: No, that’s the thing is, I’ve seen too. My friend was talking to like… Y’all, we could do a whole social media tea time. That’s phase two.

CC: I think, being intentionally relatable because I don’t know. I wonder if from a complete outsider’s perspective of just a fan of some of these couples, but I’m a big comment stalker. I feel people do know when things are being faked for the camera, like Austin McBroom coming to UCLA.

SS: Him showing up to lectures!

CC: Just being intentionally relatable and don’t reinforce the cycle of social media being toxic. I think it’s really great the movement of people trying to make it more authentic and honest.

SS: Yeah, and being yourself and what you’re passionate about, like that’s…

CC: And the people who are doing that for the right reasons. I like all of you.

SS: Yeah. Good things will come to you if you’re like, genuinely posting what you’re passionate about and what you… and who you are. And it can be very, very helpful for your career as well if you’re going into it.

CC: Absolutely.

JW: Well, speaking for you, Sophie, you had this online presence that grew and now you’re working in a talent agency, or you had an internship there…

SS: I had an internship there, and then I’m signed with them as a talent now, which is crazy, too.

JW: How can you students utilize this outlet to kind of advance their career? You kind of touched a little bit about being authentic.

SS: Yeah. Yeah, I think, well also, like we’re also saying too, how earlier in this industry, connections are so important. Something I’ve realized recently that having a platform has helped me do is also going to in-person events with like, brands. I feel you go to a lot of right, I follow you on Instagram, so I see a lot of your brand event posts. And honestly, I’ve learned just in the past three, maybe four months, I’ve met so many other creators at these events. And that is something too, that helps so much if you have, if you want to start a new podcast, if you want to get involved on set, meeting others. I’m telling you, meeting people in-person who are also creators, that’s something that you can really do with having a platform. And I’ve just met so many really cool creators at these events. I mean, I just went to Coachella this past weekend.

CC: I’m so jealous.

SS: Yeah, it’s like, it’s like the influencer Olympics. I’m seeing all these people and I’m like, “What is life?” And I was like, the only reason I’m here right now is because I pressed the Record button. I started posting on TikTok. So it’s like…

CC: Even Alix Earl is a really good example of that. She was posting TikTok for a while before she blew up.

SS: For two years maybe even. Really, it took a minute.

CC: But when you stick with it and stay consistent and keep working towards your dreams, whatever that is, it is possible, but social media, I think it really does open a lot of doors.

SS: It’s powerful. It’s really powerful. The algorithm is crazy.

JW: That brings up another point actually. What’s a tip to keep staying motivated, especially for someone who’s been in the industry for so long?

CC: And it’s such a, the industry, it comes in waves, and it can be so fickle and very discouraging, especially when you are hearing a lot of no’s, and I think don’t place your sense of value and self-worth on your success in this industry. You know, you can be passionate about it, and it can be what you love but find other things and people to surround yourself with that really make you happy because it can be so all-consuming. If you are auditioning for things and keep hearing no’s, and getting sucked into it.

SS: It’s so discouraging.

CC: So that’s the great thing about coming to a school that is so diverse, and you can pursue so many different interests. Pick up fun hobbies, find other things that you love to do on the side while continuing to keep yourself inspired, but find your sense of self-worth and success in different areas, I think.

SS: That’s the best point I think that has been spoken today. Seriously, it’s so important. First of all, in the audition room, hearing no’s. Even on social media, I’ve had days where I posted a video – and engagement is a big thing on social media. Unfortunately, with brands and stuff, there’s a lot of pressure to get a certain amount of engagement. I’ve had days where I posted videos that didn’t get the amount of views or likes or, you know, all those numbers and stuff, it didn’t get what I wanted it to, and I found myself getting really upset. And I was like, “What?” Like I need to really take a step back and separate myself from that. Like, Caitlin was saying, not basing your self-worth… Happiness should not be based on a number, whether that’s likes or followers or stuff like that. And it’s exciting, and it can keep you motivated, but at the same time, you need to be able to separate both.

CC: And I also think when your value is determined on whether you’re wanting to go the film and TV route of booking auditions, or what internship you get, or… And while these things, especially in college can, can feel the end of the world to hear a no, or how many likes or views you’re getting. If your sole sense of value is placed on that, I… it’ll be impossible to ever truly be happy because the standard that you’re trying to meet, the bar will keep raising, and it’ll never be enough.

SS: Wait, that makes me think of something else. Because you’re saying, tips to stay motivated, I feel that’s a good point. Because in order to keep moving forward, you don’t go from 0 to 100. You have little steps in between. So my thing is I loved setting goals for myself. So for social media, maybe that was okay, my, my goal before I graduated was to get to 10,000 followers on TikTok, and I’m like, what the heck, there’s, I have 500-something thousand which is insane. It’s crazy, but setting small goals for yourself. Say like, I want to do one brand partnership within the next month or so. And I want to reach out to x many brands. Setting tangible goals is so important. And especially for like – I think I had written this down for acting too – you don’t just jump from, being like, okay, saying like, hey, waking up one day like, I’m gonna be an actor, and then going and being on set with Jacob Elordi. That’s just not how it works. You have to like, set tangible goals because it’s such it’s a process starting off. You start with classes. And then you really hone your craft, get your headshots, start building a reel by doing unpaid work on student films and then you find an agent. Then you can start doing more auditions. And it’s a stepwise process. So you really have to keep going.

CC: Yeah I like setting goals like that. It allows you to reward yourself and feel proud of yourself way more. Get yourself a sweet treat, whatever it is.

SS: Yeah, exactly.

CC: But when, yes, it’s so important to dream big and not limit yourself, but rewarding yourself every step of the way is really important. That was good. Because that’s how you are, yeah that was good.

SS: I feel, we’re bouncing off each other and having, in both of our perspectives because it’s, we have someone who’s been in this industry for a long time and…

CC: It’s making me want to set smaller goals for myself.

SS: No, trust me. That is what has gotten me where I am in just a year is setting those little goals for myself. Because, I just, I was never expecting to be first of all, signed with an agent for acting. Also for social media, if you had told me that a year ago, I’d have been laughing. That’s hilarious, okay. Be so for real.

CC: I guess when I look back, you can really see how come, even if you don’t feel that way at the time.

JW: Well, I guess that’s a point for you. You kind of had a very lucky shot when you’re younger. How did you kind of capitalize on that growing up?

CC: I think I’ve had a really strong team and support system around me who I’ve been very fortunate to guide me, but it really has been in, I want to say since starting college, which, I was obviously very young, but what I’ve been starting to think about is that I kind of have to take my career into my own hands and just, you develop a sense of autonomy when you turn 18 and are recognized as an adult to really say, “oh, I can have creative control.” And especially in acting. It’s just, it’s a very passive career, especially when you’re starting out because the opportunities you get are determined on what comes to you and whether they hire you. But I tried to kind of re-conceptualize my career really in the past few years. I’m starting to think about taking the reins and taking it into my own hands thinking about, what do I want to do? What do I want to put out there?

SS: I mean now you got into the master’s program. You, you’re doing it.

CC: And I’m so excited. That was a huge step for me. I decided I was going to apply. It’s an interesting time to do this interview because you’re catching me in the perfect time of really starting to transition. All of these questions are what I think about every night before I go to sleep, so.

SS: Yeah we can’t fall asleep at night. It’s all in our brains.

CC: Yeah, right now we’re getting ready to

SS and CC: Graduate.

SS: Woah jinx. Life is… life is about to happen. It’s crazy, but I’m excited. I think it’ll be…

CC: It’s exciting.

JW: Yeah, and I think that’s a great note to end it on. Just hope. It’ll work out if you keep going for it.

CC: Can you make a hope-core edit of that?

SS: No, no. I’m excited to say, five years from now, check on Caitlin’s LinkedIn or Instagram.

CC: My resume is gonna be me accomplishing 1000 small goals that I’ve set up because of this.

SS: It’s amazing, and I’m excited to see what the future has.

JW: Thank you both. Thank you so much for coming.

SS and CC: Thank you.

SS: This was so much fun.

JW: Thank you for joining us today. We also want to thank our guests, Caitlin Carmicheal and Sophie Silva, and we want to thank Bobby Balbuena and Stellan Swanlund for creating the music for today’s episode. You can listen to Bruins in Hollywood on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, and a transcript of this show is available at See you next time!

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