Bios are boring. Or so says Grasie Mercedes, actress and lifestyle blogger on her site Style Me Grasie. But in reality, her life is anything but. Hailing from NYC and currently residing in LA (a transition she describes as exciting, new, and awe-inspiring), Grasie has a blend of girl-next-door charm and I'll-never-be-that-cool confidence. With a background producing for MTV-- something that keeps her grounded and respectful while on set (i.e. she shows up on time), Grasie has transitioned her career in a way most of us dream of.
And she's going to be sharing her know-how as a mentor with Create & Cultivate LA on May 7th.
Get to know Grasie below and find out she thinks you should never have a Plan B.
From creating your own content for your blog, styling, and acting, how do you manage to find the time to do it all?
Styling is what got me into blogging in the first place. I wanted an outlet for creative inspiration, then I found out about personal style blogs and OOTDs and started working in that direction. It was at that time, I named my blog Style Me Grasie and started getting a following. I'm also a TV Host/Style Expert and last year, was the first time that all three of my careers (acting, hosting and blogging) got really, really busy. It was tough to do all three and still have time for my husband and my life, so while I will still host a fashion segment from time to time, I'm solely focused on acting and the blog. It's hard to cut back on things in your life where you're succeeding, but at some point you need to focus on what you love the most. For me, that's acting and blogging. Luckily, I'm an extremely organized, Type A person, so I'm able to do both and give 100% to both! I do believe you can "do it all" and "go for it all" but I also think it's important to accept when you are stretched too thin and then go from there.
You’ve mentioned that there’s a theory that it’s nearly impossible to be a working actor, but you’re killing the game. How have you been able to make it work?
Ha! Yes, making a substantial living as an actor is like winning the lottery. I have done okay for myself especially in the commercial acting world but I'm far from where I want to be. Acting is the hardest profession in the world and the reason there are so many "failed actors" is because most people give up. It NEVER happens overnight. You have to LOVE acting and be passionate about it and never have a plan B. You can have other things going on, in fact, I encourage that, but you can never give up. Most actors have to wait tables or bartend in between bookings, and I realized pretty early on that wasn't not for me. It made me not like people (let's be honest, when you're sober, drunk people are no fun) and it made me desperate at auditions. I wanted to book work so badly, and that energy is terrible for an audition. So, my love of acting and wanting to survive was a huge motivation to turn my blog into a business. Now, my blog is my main source of income and acting money is icing on the cake. In the past year, I've booked 4 national commercials and done of few indie films and in the past, a few day roles on TV shows, but my dream is to star in my own television series that I write and produce. I'm working on a web series now with another actress/writer that I'm really excited about! I will always act and my blog is the perfect day job the supplement my dream.
You used to be behind the camera, and now you’re in front of it. Can you tell us about the moment where you realized that you needed to make that transition?
I went to NYU for Broadcast Journalism and wanted to be a news reporter. Right out of college, I worked at ABC World News and hated it. It was the overnight shift, everyone I worked with was nuts, and the news was/is so depressing! So, I quit and started working as a PA at MTV, which is where I interned in college. This grew into a career as an Associate Producer, then Post Producer and Segment Producer. But the whole time, I wanted to act. I had done plays in high school and in college but never thought I could actually go for it. I think a part of me thought I couldn't do that to my mom.
I'm first generation American; both my parents were born in Dominican Republic. I was the first in our family to go to college and felt this pressure "to have a real job." A pressure I totally put on myself because I have the most supportive mom in the world who loves everything I do. So when I was 25 (after three years producing at MTV) I told my mom I wanted to move to LA to be an actress. She told me I should go for it and I did! For the first three years in LA I was just figuring stuff out...it was my first time away from NYC/home and everything about LA was very exciting. Around 28 is when I really got serious, got into class and really started going for it. Knowing what it's like behind the camera always helps me on set. It's amazing how many actors don't respect all the work producers and crews have to go through to make a show, film or commercial happen. I know what it's like to work 16 hour days on the other side, so as an actor I make sure to always be on time, always say thank you, and always pay attention and listen to direction. You'd be surprised how many people don't do those simple things.
What are the ways that your acting career and blogging have intersected with one another to help each other grow and succeed?
More and more producers are interested in an actor's following. It's not like you'll book a job based solely on that, but if two actors are neck and neck for a job and one has 100k followers and one has 10k followers, they will probably go with the 100k actor. So having a following is definitely a good thing for acting. Acting or just being comfortable in front of the camera has helped me book brand collaborations and campaigns, which is great for the blog. A lot of bloggers are shy or not comfortable with video so I definitely have an advantage there and video collaborations are my fav!
How does personal style influence how you feel as a business woman?
My personal style is why I'm a business woman. I think it's important for entrepreneurs to stay true to themselves above all...that's what people will relate to and what will make you successful. With both style and business, I think the same principles are true: do what feels great to you no matter what the trends are, love what you wear/do and have fun with your style/work.
Do you have a “power outfit” that gives you the confidence to work a room?
I'm most comfortable in jeans, a great top, heels, red lipstick, and hair pulled back. That's when I feel the most confident, powerful and sexy. That's my go-to for a big audition, business meeting or night out with the girls.
What’s next for you this year?
This year is off to a great start and I'm excited for the rest of it! In acting world, I've booked two commercials this month and hope to book more. I'm acting/writing/producing a web series and working with a new talent rep who I love. In the blog world, I'm working with a new manager who I love, growing my brand, collaborating with some of my favorite designers and doing more video content. In my personal world, I hope to start a family with my husband within the next year or so. There's a lot happening in 2016!