Paige in La La Land Vol. 1: Blonde Beginnings & Real World Lessons

Emma Stone

When I was a little girl, my dad would drive me every morning to elementary school. I had to go to a morning daycare, because both of my parents had to be at work early. Every morning during that 6:30 am sleepy car ride, my dad would put on 102.7 KIIS FM On Air With Ryan Seacrest (We even listened in the Rick Dee’s days prior, my school was kindergarten for eighth grade.) My dad and I — clad in my natural blonde hair (hey it was back then) and green, plaid uniform dress — would listen to Ryan tells us the important stories of the day, what was happening in music, and even throw in a joke or two. We would hear the pop hits, some couples would fight during Ryan’s Roses, and viewers would win contests. It was our morning ritual. One day however, I can’t remember which, I told my Dad: “Dad, I want to be Ryan Seacrest when I grow up. Well, a female version.” My dad replied with, “I could see you doing that, but you’d have to talk a little slower.” DidimentionItalkreallyreallyfast? Don’t worry, I talk slower now, well at least on camera.

Even from a young age, I couldn’t shut up.

I was probably in the fifth or sixth grade when I knew I wanted to work in entertainment. As I grew up, I thought that my aspirations would change to something more logical or realistic, and for my mom’s sake — something that wouldn’t chew me up and spit me back out. But I was persistent. I loved pop-culture. I lived and breathed movies, television, books, and music. The walls of my bedroom were covered floor to ceiling with magazine cutouts, pictures, posters, and other paraphernalia. What started just as my ode to the wizarding adventures of Harry Potter, a nerdy pleasure I still bear at 23, evolved into a masterpiece of my pop culture obsessions.

As I reached high school, my aspirations to work in entertainment and journalism become even more confirmed. I would drag my friends to Twilight midnight showings and new movie releases. I even had my friends wait in line with me for 12 hours for the first Hunger Games installment, because of course I needed a good seat to see the launch of Jennifer Lawrence’s career — she’s still one of my favorite actresses btw. My locker and binders were covered with collages of my favorite celebrities and motivational quotes — my own personal travel dream board I could have as my reminder wherever I went. I loved to perform and make people laugh. My unusually deep voice with my bright, blonde hair made me unique. I was a dancer and a cheerleader, yet I was such a nerd when it came to my beloved pop-culture. Although I was pretty smart in school, being an excessive talker was my identifier. I may be short, but wow did my voice carry in a classroom, even when I didn’t want it to. Energetic and bubbly, I was naturally very ADD, but sitting still and test taking were not my attributes. Nevertheless, I made it into a good college.

Basic LA photo in front of Alfred Coffee in WeHo.
Basic LA photo in front of Alfred Coffee in WeHo.

While at Loyola Marymount University — where I majored in Communication Studies and minored in Journalism (they don’t have a journalism major…ugh), I fell in love with the city of Los Angeles. Coming from Orange County, I wasn’t far from my family but the environment around me was definitely new, and I loved it. This was my beginning, my blonde beginning (I’ve been about four hair colors and cuts the past five years…) and I was ready to really get my life started, because I was in the entertainment capital of the world and this was my time to shine.

As I should have known, getting into entertainment journalism, or any aspect of entertainment, wasn’t easy. Real World Lesson #1. I applied for more internships than I can count, getting only two small unpaid internships in total. However, I was grateful as I still got to build my portfolio and earn some experience. Unlike many of my private school friends, I had to work through all four years of college — having stints at a multiple part-time jobs such as a work study job on campus, a position at Nordstrom, being a receptionist for my dad’s company, and as a team member at Whole Foods. Real World Lesson #2. When it came to applying for jobs in the real world, I started early. Half way through my senior year of college, I began the job hunt, hoping for a position right after graduation in May. Unfortunately, after dozens and dozens of applications, it took me until the following January — aka last month — to finally get a job. I was ecstatic. My hard work had finally paid off! I loved my job, my first real “big girl job.” I was so excited to have a desk, to be a real working girl, and to most of all — really begin my career. However, within three weeks of my new position I was laid off due to budget cuts. Real World Lesson #3. 

I was devastated, as anyone would be. Going back to the job hunt seemed like the worst thing in the world, but in reality it’s not. At only 23, I’ve learned some serious real world lessons from events that could easily have happened to me later in life and probably will again. This little setback might seem like a big deal, but it just means that my “big break” isn’t here yet. It’s just waiting for me to find it. From fan, to hopeful writer, to aspiring host, I’m not letting anything stop me now. For the many rejections I’ve received and the hills I’ve fallen down, to the many hardships that will for sure appear in the future, I’ll be ready. This has been my dream since I was a child and I’m going to put 110% into it. If I fail, that’s alright, because I’ll get back up again. As one of my favorite movies of the year sings to me: “Here’s to the one’s who dream, foolish as they may seem.” Hi world, Pop Culture Paige is coming for you!

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