Shari Dyon Perry
NOTE: Skip ahead to read Shari Dyon Perry’s story below if you’re already familiar with how this series works; if you’re not familiar, please read my intro first for context…
I’ve done this once a year, every year, for the last 4 years, and your responses have always been enthusiastic, so I figured, why not continue? Especially with the site’s readership continuing to evolve, just as I’d expect of your individual lives as creatives on the move.
A decent number of you are in the business (whether just getting started, or are seasoned veterans, or somewhere else) – actors, actresses, directors, DPs, editors, writers, producers etc, etc, etc. Some have made it to the point at which they are able to earn a living utilizing their artistic and/or technical skills; others – and I’d say the majority – are what we’ve labeled the proverbial *starving artists*, working diligently, relentlessly, struggling to climb an incredibly steep hill, trying to reach some self-defined pinnacle of success – whether personal or professional. And still others exist somewhere between the former and the latter.
Where do you fall? As the title of this post states, what’s YOUR story? And would you like to share it with the rest of us?
I’m looking for your individual stories of struggle and/or success, regardless of what rung on the ladder you are currently on. In addition to delivering industry news, reviews of films, interviews with talent, this site (and its various social media extensions) has also always aimed to function as a community of sorts – a space for artists to share, engage, teach, learn, grow, commiserate, gain some exposure, and more. And this “What’s Your Story?” feature is one example of that specific effort.
It takes a certain amount of courage to be able to be vulnerable and share one’s journey, but I suppose that’s exactly what I’m asking you to do; as I said, it’s been a mostly successful series, as others have been willing to share in the last few years that we’ve done this.
You might learn something; you might teach someone something; you might meet someone virtually who positively affects your journey in some way; and more.
So what’s YOUR story?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “What’s Your Story” in the subject heading. You can submit your story in any format – written, or even documented on video – and I’ll post it here on the site. I recommend being honest and thorough; not just a written ad for your next project. It could be a story about a current situation you find yourself in; or it could cover several days, weeks, months, or years of your career. It could be that you just want to vent your frustrations; aspects of, or people in this business that piss you off; aspects of, or people in the industry that encourage you. It doesn’t have to be all negative, nor all positive. We’re all complex people and so I assume our stories are as well. And be sure to attach a photo (hi-res) for me to include (although it doesn’t have to be a photo of yourself; just make sure you have the rights to whatever image you send), and if you have samples of your work, include them as well. Posts with visual aids tend to travel more.
There’s no deadline, so send as you will.
You can also choose to be anonymous if you’re more comfortable doing that.
For a sample of past submissions so you can get an idea of what’s been done before, click here.
You can also email me if you have any questions about what to submit, or anything else related to this series.
Kicking off the 2017 edition of “What’s YOUR story?” on March 8 was actress Natalie Tucker who, in January 2016, decided to quit her corporate job after 20 years, to pursue acting full-time. Read her story here if you missed it.
Natalie's was followed by Crystal Joy’s story, an actress who moved from Chicago, leaving family and friends behind, to the competitive jungle that is New York City, 4 years ago, also to pursue acting! Read her story here if you missed it.
And today's story belongs to another actress, Shari Dyon Perry, who played a young Lorraine Toussaint (as Rene Jackson) for 3 seasons of the Lifetime TV network series, "Any Day Now" (1998-2002). Shari is currently in Atlanta, which she calls home, far from what is considered the Mecca of the film and TV industry (Los Angeles), as she considers what role Atlanta talent can play in the shaping the industry, while reminding us that she's still here. Read her story below.
My name is Shari Dyon Perry. On any given day I’m asked, “Aren’t you the little girl from 'Any Day Now'?” That’s usually followed by “Why did you give it up?” or “Why did you stop acting?”
First things first - I did not give up. Guess you didn’t see my hands in that latest print ad?
In 1998, I landed the role of Young Rene Jackson on the Lifetime Television Series, "Any Day Now." After three successful seasons as a series regular, I said goodbye, and made my way back home to the East Coast. I knew this was the business I wanted to be in, but I was going back to GA.
Here’s the bit of my story I want to let you in on...
Since leaving Los Angeles, I’ve been involved in smaller roles in a few television and film projects. Am I surprised that opportunities didn’t continue as a SAG-AFTRA member with a recent series regular credit under my belt? Absolutely, because I was pretty confident they would.
What’s really upsetting is the thought of so many projects shooting here in Atlanta, yet the actors here are not working like they should. A local casting director once said, “I would put any of them up against any actor anywhere in this country. They are every bit as good. They could handle lead roles.” Though true, those lead roles will more often than not, be cast out of Los Angeles. Why?
Why incur the additional cost of relocation or temporary housing to bring actors from Los Angeles to Atlanta, rather than hire from the local talent pool? Georgia is among the top three in the country as an entertainment production market. Why not showcase our own talent more in larger roles?
I booked a series regular role here and relocated to Los Angeles to film, when access to the industry was limited. That was rare and a privilege not afforded to many who had been working diligently in this market, long before me. Should it happen more, today? Now, self-taping auditions is all the rage. Actors can be considered for roles from all over the world. YES, it should happen a lot more.
Will I ever get back to the West Coast? Who knows. It’s tempting - especially since I’ve witnessed friends in the business, from this area, move to L.A., book the job and come back home to Atlanta to film. Crazy!
For now, it’s auditioning for day player roles, voice-overs and even hand models, until... I’m hoping to land a project, and if I’m lucky, one with depth that will make an impact much like "Any Day Now."
Here’s to another opportunity to get in the room. To do good work. Consistent work. Because, let’s be honest - it’s an exciting time for TV. So, the answer is NO. I didn’t give up. I didn’t quit. Nineteen years later - I’m here. I’m in Atlanta y’all.
Twitter: @iamsharidyon | Instagram: @sharidyon | Facebook: fb.me/sharidyon