Name: Shannon Kraemer
Position: Actor, Substitute Teacher, Nanny
City: Los Angeles, CA
Aspiring actor Shannon Kraemer, 24, is a Michigan native recently turned Los Angeles transplant, with some side gigs up her sleeve while pursuing her career. Shannon’s main goal is to sustain herself financially from an acting career, while regularly booking big-budget films in the entertainment industry.
Shannon has loved acting and theater arts as a child, watching Cinderella (“The one with Brandy and Whitney Houston”), Hollywood renowned twins Mary-Kate and Ashley, and the musical Cats. She felt wonder and the desire to create that feeling in others growing up. “Storytelling, in general, is absolutely crucial,” she notes, “I love to be part of something that brings people together and can help create more empathy in humankind.”
Empathy helps us connect with others, even though we might not live the same experiences. And acting can help these feelings of connectivity, empathy, and positivity blossom in our own lives as viewers. With this in mind, Shannon pursued her bachelor’s degree of fine arts in Musical Theater at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Michigan. This degree prepared her for a career in New York City, however, a few specialized classes in TV and film inspired her confidence in moving to Los Angeles in 2017. Shannon saved as much money as she could working at Starbucks and set up a date in October of that year to finally make the big move.
When she’s not auditioning for roles, Shannon can be found commuting to different substitute teacher openings as well as nannying around L.A. She’s reached financial independence in a tough city with absurdly high rent prices, time-consuming commutes, and a competitive market. Shannon remains positive despite all this and says, “I believe and hope that I can increase empathy in the world, even by just one viewer at a time.”
Cultural Chameleon: Did you have any mentors that helped you get to where you are today? What advice did they give you?
Shannon: My college program was very small, so I had a few mentors I felt particularly close to. My Acting for the Camera instructor, Mila Govich, was the first person to tell me I should consider TV/Film. She helped me get into agencies in Detroit where I started some regular work. It boosted my confidence and inspired me to move to LA. There was a lot of advice in many technical aspects like headshots, reels, agents, and auditions- but the best advice was “Just do it! Get out there!”
Could you briefly describe your workplaces?
As an actor, this totally varies from set to set! There are other actors, hair and makeup artists, and the crews operating the cameras, lights, and sound behind the scenes. There’s also usually plenty of snacks.
When I’m subbing, my workplace is either a middle school or a high school- hallways with colorful, positive posters, kids getting to class…I usually don’t interact with the other teachers except for saying hello in the hallways.
Is what you’re doing now aligned to what you want to do in the future?
Yes! It’s a grind to get to where I want to be as an actor but I work for it every day. Subbing is fulfilling in the meantime because I do enjoy working with kids, plus it helps pay the bills.
What best equipped you for your substitute teaching role now?
I have a lot of experience with kids as I used to teach dance classes to kids aged 3 to 18 and up. When I was a freshman in college, I taught middle schoolers catechism classes, as well as babysat since I was about 11. All these things gave me a knack for knowing how to communicate with kids of different ages. Also, LAUSD requires a 2- day training seminar for substitute teaching!
What do you love most about your jobs?
What I love most about acting is telling stories to audiences that otherwise might never hear them. I love broadening my own horizons and showing people different perspectives that they might have never seen.
With subbing, I just love being around the youngsters. At the secondary level, these kids all have their own distinct personalities and it’s funny because I thought I knew everything at that age. Now looking back, I’m reminded of how much there is to learn and how much space there is in which to grow.
What do you wish didn’t exist with both of your jobs or industries?
With acting, I wish that social media didn’t play the role in Hollywood that it does today. I have to remind myself to post on Instagram, knowing that I’m more likely to book jobs if I have more followers or likes.
The last-minute phone calls in the morning for subbing can be stressful! For example, I got called at 7:20 a.m. for a job starting at 7:30 a.m. and it was a 35-minute drive to get there. But, ç’est la vie!
In a world of constant comparisons, what do you do to reassure yourself? How do you personally deal with social media in order to show your most authentic self?
It’s weirdly reassuring to watch dancing, acting, or singing videos of myself because it sort of seems like sometimes I’m watching someone else, and I think “hey…. this girl is pretty good.” I also have an amazing circle of close friends who give me constructive feedback and it helps me feel I’m on the right track.
I like to use Instagram stories to share random, funny things. I feel like my sense of humor is part of my most authentic self. I’ve only recently started posting more serious photos of myself. I’ve always stuck to goofy and smiling pictures, but I’m learning that it’s important to accept the not-so-happy parts of myself too. Twitter is a free-for-all, that’s probably the most ‘me’ you’ll find on social media.
Imagine you’re talking to a younger version of yourself. What would you tell her? Would you change anything about your approach?
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! You are amazing, stop comparing yourself to others. You are NOT anyone else and that is a good thing! In college, I wish I would’ve taken bolder risks and made stronger choices.
How do you define your own personal success?
This… is a hard question. My ultimate dream of success would be being an A-list movie star. My realistic goal of success is to be able to pay my bills and live comfortably as an actor, not necessarily as a huge Hollywood star. However, in my day-to-day life, I define my own personal success as following my own heart and mind, creating work I’m proud of and nourishing my spirit and body with food, exercise, and my relationships with others.