"Homeland" Actress Julee Cerda On Pivoting Her Career Path
It's hard to switch careers halfway into a pre-existing one. Add to that student loan debt for a certain career path and it's easy to feel like you have to work in the same career for the rest of your working life. For actress Julee Cerda, transitioning into acting from a career in advertising wasn't an easy decision, but she knew that it was something she had to do.
"The whole 9-5 thing wasn't satisfying to me anymore. I knew I needed something more, a creative outlet. I started taking all kinds of classes: guitar, interior design, and acting. Acting really spoke to me and I continued the classes. I didn't think of it as a career path, just a hobby at first, but then after 6 years, I really started to pursue it."
Born to a Dominican father and Korean mother, education was a priority in Cerda's household and having a stable career was strongly encouraged. "Acting was the last thing my mother or father would have wanted me to do; but I had to stop listening to what I should be doing and start doing what I wanted to do, what I needed to do, for myself."
"There will always be a reason not to do something. I had a lot of student loan debt for a career in advertising. There were a lot of lows getting to the point where I am today. There are still lows that I deal with. But not listening to your true self will beat you up, and you can either bury it or let it thrive."
Cerda's instincts have certainly paid off, with lead roles in Showtime's "Homeland" and Netflix's "Orange Is The New Black," she has made an impressive mark on the small screen. Says Cerda, "Homeland been such a fantastic experience. I was a fan of the show before I came on, and it's been such an exciting journey. The cast and crew are so welcoming and collaborative. And OITNB is great because it was the first time I've worked with a predominately all-female cast and crew. Girl power!"
Has being multi-ethnic had any drawbacks regarding casting? "Certainly," laments Cerda, "I don't fit 100% into any category. I'm an American, but casting directors don't always see me as that. I'm often looked at as the 'other', but it's getting better because people of color are working to make it better."
As a Brooklyn based mom of one and blogger for the style diary AttachedToTheHip.com, Cerda knows that transitioning between careers isn't an easy feat for everyone. "There are costs associated with any career change. Without money or a job with a steady paycheck, there is no way I could have afforded to pursue acting. If there is something that you want to do, then do it. Just be smart about it and know that it will take time to succeed. I made so many excuses as to why I shouldn't pursue acting, but I'm so glad that I overcame my doubts."
Cerda will be starring in “Children of a Lesser God,” the first Broadway revival of the 1980 Tony Award-winning play, at Studio 54. You can watch her as Press Secreaty Reiko Umon in season 7 of "Homeland", premiering Sunday, February 11th at 9pm ET/PT. Watch the season 7 trailer here:
What have been your successes or pitfalls of switching careers? Share with us in the comments below.
Images Courtesy of: David Lust PR & AttachedToTheHip.com