CINDERELLA AT THE COLOSSEUM

WONDER RUSSELL

ACTOR/FILMMAKER/SINGER-SONGWRITER

This is a fairy tale about L.A.

The Mecca of film. The siren call for the naive, the hopeful, the gamblers, carpetbaggers and dreamers. Nearly every day I ask myself why I don’t live there. I weigh the odds. I tell myself I’m good enough to survive, but then talk myself out of the risk. Life in Seattle defines perfect! Don’t screw it up on a mad gamble! Yet, there’s undeniable allure. We have history, L.A. and I.

Once upon a time in 2001, I made 16mm shorts with the New York Film Academy on the Universal Studios backlot. I believed in my soul (though I never dared to voice it) that there in L.A, I’d be discovered, and that would be that. Plucked from obscurity! Free to live the life of my dreams! I emailed my Mom that I didn’t want to do anything but make movies, forever, the end. So long, Mom! Fate has called my name!

 

But I didn’t, I wasn’t, and I left L.A. shortly after the program ended. My final films were shipped home the week before I left L.A., lost in the mail, and never seen again. Like a glass slipper left behind, I have one foot in, one foot out. My fairy tale continues, but it took ten years before I rediscovered my invitation to the ball.

In 2010, I road-tripped to L.A. with my friend Lisa LeVan, and we performed in the Actorswork annual showcase. The night of our final performance, I met screenwriter Eric Collin Campbell for the first time. Standing outside the Secret Rose Theatre in North Hollywood in the dark, talking movies and geek obsession, Connect To was born. This lovely film was our invitation to return to L.A. several times in 2011.

In 2012 flights are booked once more for L.A. Inside me, the same girl craves discovery. I embroider my dreams and sneak past the guards. ‘Choose me!’ I cry. How many ballgowns must I sew over a year’s time to parade before suitors? How can I compete with courtesans who know every dance step, every influential cabinet member’s name?

The awful truth is, I know in my head that L.A. isn’t a party where dreams come true. It’s an arena stained with the blood of your talented peers, where more concessions are sold for every disastrous fall than champagne is popped for the rare rise. Maybe it’s not a ball after all; maybe it’s the Colosseum and we are volunteering to wrestle lions (or in this modern scenario, wrestling sharks). Maybe having the most beautiful dress is meaningless if you can’t rip it off and use your stiletto as a weapon.

So my tactics change.

My current “battle rig” is the Summer Home, entering the “arena” of FirstGlance Film Festival on April 22. My retiring avatar, Connect To, smashes its way to glory on March 18 at Hollywood Shorts. They are gorgeously hand-crafted, sure. But more importantly, they are honed on the edge of experience, learning to cut through the crowd. Their budgets are nimble, their showmanship gaining in flair.

I still hope to be chosen. I still look for the emperor giving me the thumbs up. I still may return to the mists of Seattle with new battle scars to learn from, ready to train for the next season. The arena is a masquerade, alright. After all, I’m in the game of bringing you a new spectacle. Are you not entertained?

BIO:

Wonder Russell is an actor, filmmaker, and singer-songwriter in Seattle. See more at BellaWonder.com, Connect To, Summer Home, and Revelation Film Project.

Follow on Twitter @BellaWonder