These Rising Stars Share The Truth About Being A Young Actor In Hollywood

From securing the bag to dealing with the dark side of social media.

Actors Da’Vinchi, Laya DeLeon Hayes and Zaria Simone, engaged in an open conversation about their budding acting careers, money management and their take on social media stardom at ESSENCE Hollywood House. GU co-founder Rechelle Dennis led the conversation for the “Fresh Faces of Hollywood” panel. The discussion began with the actors reminiscing about their first time auditioning for a role. While Hayes and Simone recalled being nervous during their auditions, Da’Vinchi revealed that nerves were not a factor for him.

“I didn’t take my first audition that seriously,” Da’Vinchi says. “My body wasn’t processing what I was actually doing. I think that helped. There’s something about having a playful spirit that allows you to take the shape of any container you’re in. So, when you’re not so stuck in your nerves, you can bend more.”

Money management was a hot topic for the young actors as they each explained their experience handling their finances while in between roles for their next project. “There’s a lot of stretching that has to go on,” Simone says. “But, it makes you a humble individual to pursue this craft that is so difficult.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 08: (L-R) Rechelle Dennis, Zaria, Laya DeLeon Hayes and Da’Vinchi speak onstage during the 2024 ESSENCE Hollywood House on March 08, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

Hayes, who stars opposite Queen Latifah in The Equalizer series, emphasized the importance of having a solid team and how that gives actors room to focus on their craft. “The business part of acting is a whole other unit in a lot of ways,” Hayes says. “It can be very overwhelming coming in as a young actor and also when you know that opportunities are far and few in between.”

Da’Vinchi urged audiences to educate themselves and consider possessing multiple streams of income. “Start paying attention to things you weren’t taught in school because that’s how you keep the money,” the BMF actor says. “Make sure you’re leveraging your resources into something else because everything rises and sets at some point.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 08: (L-R) Zaria, Laya DeLeon Hayes and Da’Vinchi attend the 2024 ESSENCE Hollywood House on March 08, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

The panel wrapped with a transparent conversation about the concerns of social media fame and how it’s challenging for viewers to separate actors from their characters. Although Simone, known for her character in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, says she appreciates the chance to connect with fans of the show, it is challenging for the actress to find the boundary in her profession.

“It’s ‘where is the line’ and ‘what do we own as artists,”‘ Simone says. “That’s really hard to find in our jobs because we give you on-screen versions of people we created or crafted with other people. I think it’s hard for people to see themselves so clearly and then take that away from them when we call cut.”

Da’Vinchi and Hayes added to the topic on the dangers of online users having too much access to their lives. “Social media can be a wonderful platform for you to engage with the people who watch your show,” Hayes says. But at the same time, where do you draw the line where mentally you’re able to have things that are sacred to you and not feel the need to share all of them?”

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