photographed by Azusa Tanako
Grasie Mercedes is a Latina actress, writer and director from NYC currently living life in Los Angeles, CA. More than likely you know her from the interwebs. She's know to many as a lifestyle blogger with an impressive social media following. You probably follow her here, but street style pics are just part of her day job. She's an insanely talented creative whose credits include day roles on 9-1-1 on FOX, The Affair and Masters of Sex on Showtime and Criminal Minds. She recently co-wrote and directed her first short, Egg Day, which premiered in the LA Shorts Film Festival. Today she's sharing her thoughts on...
How The Entertainment Industry Has Changed
Growing up I was obsessed with television. I had single mom until I was a pre-teen and she worked a 9 to 5. My babysitters were my grandma, TiTi (my aunt) and the TV. I loved watching television and watched every single program that was on the air from 1983 until...well until now, because I’m still obsessed with TV. A lot has changed in entertainment but not quickly enough, if you ask me. It feels like the biggest changes have come within the last 5 years or so.
First off, there are more options. Streaming and cable have changed the game. Networks no longer have all the power, which has given way to diverse programming. Diversity in the storylines, characters and creators. Also no more than ever artists have to create their own stories. Actors are also writers, directors and producers. Years ago everyone “stayed in their lane” whereas today it’s encouraged to “do it all!”
Then there’s the #METOO movement which has rocked the industry and rightfully so...women are speaking out and up and it’s a beautiful thing. Almost everyone has a story and it’s clearly not just in entertainment. I’m grateful for the women and men who have been courageous enough to speak out. It’s definitely making things “easier” on set. The vibe is different….more respectful. Sometimes it feels like people are walking on eggshells a bit, but I think that’s okay. We have to start somewhere.
Diversity And Inclusion
I love what’s happening and just want to see more of it. In entertainment, in fashion, in business, in government...everywhere. As a woman of color, I feel a personal “win” every time people of color, LGBTQ and women “win.” Maybe it’s selfish or maybe it’s empathy but it gets me so excited either way. “Black Panther,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Pose,” Lena Waithe, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: win, win, win, win, win! I love that these wins are happening in this current administration. It’s a breath of fresh air...a big FU to the president and his divisive rhetoric. We can still do better as a whole but I think we’re headed in the right direction even when it feels like we’re on a detour. My hope for the future is more representation behind the camera, in CEO offices, in IVY league schools, in positions of power and in all the things.
Being A Self-Starter
I’ve always been very productive and driven. I think it’s in my DNA. When I was a kid I went to 12 years of Catholic school. I would come home and immediately start my homework before changing out of my uniform or having a snack. My mom would be the one to tell me to relax and at least change before homework but I was like “nah, I need to get this done first.” I’m still like that. I have to get sh*t done. For me, there’s no better feeling than finishing or achieving something I set out to do. It may also be my achilles heel because I can be very Type A, uptight and a bit of a workaholic. It takes me a second to relax but when I do, I’m pretty great at it.
With this personality trait, being freelance or a creative or an entrepreneur has always come natural to me. The only job I’ve ever had that resembled a “9 to 5” was right out of college at MTV. I started as a PA and within a year worked my way up to a producer. MTV was anything but your typical “9 to 5” but it was my only office job. Since then, I’ve done a lot of things in the creative and fashion space from styling to blogging to acting to now writing and directing. I love making my own hours and paving my own path. It’s a lot of work and full of ups and downs but the ups are so damn good, they make it all worth it.
Getting Out Of Creative Ruts
Creative ruts suck. There’s nothing worse than work that feels like work. When I feel stuck, I step away from whatever I’m doing for a while. There’s a long list of things I do to try to get me back into a creative state and they pretty much always work:
Trip to the beach
Walk with my dog
Running on a treadmill
Happy hour with friends
All or one of these things usually spark ideas or inspiration. My acting class is also a great source of creativity. I take class once a week and have done so consistently for about four years now. As an actor, I think being in class is essential. Acting is a muscle that needs to be worked out and class gives me at least 3 hours a week where I get to do what I love most. Sometimes I walk into class thinking “what the F am I doing with my life?” but I always walk out thinking “my life is F’ing great!”
Why Egg Day Was An Important Story To Tell
When I revealed that I was struggling with infertility on my blog and Instagram, I received an outpouring of messages and comments from women (& even some men) that had been going through (or gone through) the same thing. It was then I realized how common things like infertility, miscarriage and IVF were and how it was a universal theme/story.
The other thing I realized was how emotional it was for everyone. Yes it was/is emotional for me and my husband but it was also frustrating, annoying and sometimes funny. Like most things in life there’s comedy in the tragedy. So, I told my husband I wanted to write a short film about our experience and he co-wrote it with me. I directed it and we starred in it together. It’s doing really well in the film festival circuit and we’re really proud. People are responding to it and the feedback has been amazing.
At the end of the day, I wanted people who are going through infertility to know they weren’t alone. While the topic is very personally to me, I feel like I have a unique outlook on the whole thing that I wanted to share and I’m happy I decided to share it.
The Change You Want Your Art To Make In The World
I want to continue to make and/or be a part of art/work that’s unique, diverse and honest. I just finished writing a pilot about a world that you rarely (if ever) see depicted on screen. I’m excited to see where this project will land. Hopefully it’ll be out there for the world to see soon enough!
Your Dreams For The Future
My dream future has all my New York family living near me in California. It has a career that fulfills me and makes a difference. And a world where we are all kinder to one another.
More concretely, I want to act in a show I’ve created and I want to help other women of color tell their stories.
Photographed by Azusa Takano
Creative Direction by Kristen Turner