Michella Dos Santos of the Magic Bean Emporium recalls her own sobering encounters with the sleazy side of showbusiness but is still chasing down her dream…
I believe that everyone has kindness in their hearts (some, have it deep down in a hidden crevice), and I believe that everyone is battling an inner demon. I remind myself of this often, especially, when remembering moments in my life, when people have hurt or humiliated me. Why am I bringing this up?
With the recent Hollywood sexual harassment scandal plastering the news, I was recently asked by the publication’s editor, Steve Scoles, what made me give up on my dream and whether I had experienced any harrassment.
What was my ‘dream’ you ask? To become a performer. I use the word ‘performer’ because I hadn’t quite decided what it was I wanted to do when I grew up. I loved film – its creative process, I loved acting, but equally, I loved to dance and sing. Although, I was never a great singer!
I had an abusive childhood and when I had the good fortune of being left alone at home, I danced and sang cheerfully around the house. That euphoria I felt, encased me in a blissful bubble that got me through the dreadful moments.
I grew up. I made the decision at a young age to leave South Africa, and my family, to move to England to chase that ‘dream’ – I wanted to give back to what had, in a way, given me life. But nobody warns you of the dark side of the industry.
We dream of walking on the red carpet, and maybe even one day winning an an oscar for good work. I can honestly say that fame wasn’t the driving force.
Of course, when you are young, the illusion it portrays is seductive, but what intrigued me was that I could be someone else for a moment: a prom-queen, a political figure, or an immortal vampire! The possibilties were endless!
Soon after I arrived in England, I did the usual things: took headshots and marched off to dozens of auditions. I eventually got a small role in a BBC series, which was later deleted – another thing nobody tells you.
Then a couple of years later, fed up with waiting for that ‘lucky break,’ I wrote a short film and produced it. I was passionate and proactive, but I was also starry-eyed and unworldly. It was not before long, I came face-to-face with the sordid side of the indsutry.
I was young and innocent. I had developed a crush on a producer who took full advantage of my credulous nature. No-one prepares you for that moment you wake up in a hotel room, with a chipped tooth, a broken heel and no recollection of what happened the night before.
But what I do remember, clearly, was the late night journey home from London, and being threatened by the same producer that he would leave me on the side of the motorway, if I didn’t expose my breasts to him.
Around the same time, an A-list celebrity proposed I have sex with him, in return for a photo of me leaving his hotel room, in a national newspaper. I was told this would boost my career. I turned down the offer. I was then criticised, sworn at and told I would never make it in the industry. They were partly right. Shortly after, I turned my back on my dream.
Now that I am older, more confident and secure in myself, I have once again reopened that latch. But this time, I will perhaps stay behind the scenes writing, and maybe one day, producing. However, more recently, I have become acquainted, in some way or another, with a few well known directors, producers and actors.
If they are reading this, they know who they are. And they have proved to me that there are some good eggs in the entertainment industry, who are humble, down-to-earth, and who are willing to offer an ear, nuggets of wisdom and their time. In fact, I believe there are more good than bad individuals – we just never hear of them. Why? Because it doesn’t sell newspapers.
So my advice to anyone who wants to have a career in the entertainment industry is this: ask yourself ‘why?’ and be honest. If your reply is ‘to be famous,’ then please walk away.
It’s this mentality that will steer you in the wrong direction and corrupt your morality and your soul. Chase the dream for the right reasons, then patience will be on your side. And surround yourself with similar, good, hard-working people and you will be OK!
Michella Dos Santos, The Magic Bean Emporium owner, after a recent health scare, has set herself a three year ‘Bucket List’ challenge, with which she hopes to encourage her social media followers to live life to the fullest, and also hopes to bring awareness to women about the effects of contraceptive methods.
You can follow her adventures on Instagram: michelladossantos