Being a Veteran is my gold star attribute while living out my dream as a professional actress in the entertainment industry of television and film.
I honorably served one active duty term in the United States Air Force in 2000. I worked as a Health Service Management technician at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. My career took a sudden change post 9/11, when I was assigned temporary duty (augmentee) as a Security Forces Specialist. When my enlistment ended, I finished school, obtaining a BA from Northeastern Illinois University, followed by working corporate in New York City for two years. That’s where I discovered a cubicle was my own personal hell. So I turned my hobby into my career. Acting.
I thought Las Vegas was the highest population of big risk takers and gamblers…until I moved to Hollywood. Hollywood and the entertainment industry are filled with hungry dream chasers, risk takers, and faith creators. But the circle of competition quickly shrinks when you breakdown what your type is. For instance, I’m an attractive African American female, slim/athletic, age range late 20’s-early 30’s. Difference between me and my fellow actresses that fit that description…I’m a USAF Vet with special skills. I knew that saying, “I’m a Veteran” was going to separate me from the cattle.
I decided to incorporate me being a Veteran into my introductions while networking with the industry folks. I would network everywhere. I had a crafted template response to “How are you doing?” and “What’s your name?” that grabbed their interest every time. I’d respond “my name is Skye Marshall.” Of course they’d react with “how cool” “no way” or “like a Sky Marshall in the air?!” I’d smile and say, “yup, and I’ve heard it all…imagine the jokes I got while being in the Air Force.” Their eyes get big, the shock sets in on their face, they smile and say, “you were in the military?!” Hook, line, sinker. Once the connection is made, I maintain the relationship by reaching out every national holiday to every individual. Not asking for anything, just staying on their radar.
That very response to “What’s your name?” has connected me to so many reputable television and film directors, casting directors, producers, representatives and studio executives. Through these people and my strong work ethics, I’ve landed TV roles on shows such as The Mentalist, The Advocates, Dexter along with studio and independent films. This November 7th, I begin the role of Tanya Johnson in a new TNT crime drama called Public Morals created by Ed Burns and produced by Steven Spielberg.
One of the most valuable lessons the military taught me, that also helps everyday as a working actor, is to embrace fear. Fear is an emotion we all feel. No one is “fearless”. We have to simply feel it, acknowledge that it’s false, don’t rest in it, and push through it knowing that success is on the other side.
There’s no formula to the entertainment industry. You have to find what works for YOU through trial and error. It has been a rollercoaster ride for me, but a fun one. Through my experience, one thing I’m sure of is people want to help Vets. Being a Veteran in television and film has made me shine brighter than my components, whether I book the role or not. Casting directors see it on my resume and thank me for my service. After that, it’s up to you to bring your A-game.
I wanted to find a community in this business to join and feel at home. So I searched online and discovered Veterans in Film & Television. I was so excited! I joined immediately. The women and men in VFT continue to motivate and inspire me meeting after meeting. People in the positions of power all over Hollywood are becoming more and more familiar with our group and the hard work we do.
If you are a Veteran working in the entertainment industry, or aspiring to, I encourage you to become a member of Veterans in Film & Television by signing up at www.VFTLA.org.