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Like many aspiring actors and filmmakers, Brit Marling struggled upon moving to Los Angeles after her graduation from Georgetown University — and she recently returned to her alma mater to share her tale in an effort to inspire its new graduates.
Marling, who stars in and co-wrote and co-produced the upcoming film The East, recently told the 1,857 members of Georgetown’s class of 2013 during the Senior Convocation the story of how she got her start in Hollywood. After her 2005 graduation, she moved to L.A. with fellow graduates Mike Cahill and Zal Batmanglij, the latter of whom had been accepted at the American Film Institute.
“Zal’s films, like everyone’s films, were being torn apart in the coliseum of a film school that advertised itself as a place without books,” she told the seniors. “Mike and I were pimping ourselves out as a camerawoman and an editor, respectively, to a docureality series where we were following around people who regretted their plastic surgery in Vegas.”
She added: “These were dark and often confusing times, but they were also impossibly bright times because for all of our lack of success in breaking into the system, we were having tremendous success inspiring one another.”
She said they struggled so long that she at one point stopped talking to her parents because she could “no loner explain what it was I was doing out there.”
But once the trio stopped trying so hard to “break in,” they began just writing.
“We decided we didn’t need to wait for permission or validation to make our break,” she said. “All we needed to do was go back to making films way we were at Georgetown.”
With the next year and a half, they had two films premiere at Sundance and sell to studios: Another Earth, which stars Marling, who co-wrote with Cahill, who directed; and The East, also starring Marling, who co-wrote with Batmanglij, who directed. The East, which also closed SXSW earlier this year, hits theaters May 31 via Fox Searchlight.
Marling, who studied economics and studio art at Georgetown, emphasized the importance of relationships in success.
“If I can tell you anything of value it is that the most important thing you can do from here is to hold on to one another because the truth is you can’t do it alone, and it isn’t as much fun,” she added.
Watch her entire speech below.
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