Growing up in California, I was always interested in the entertainment industry. When I was younger, I would dream of being a successful actor. As I got older and got to know myself better as a trans member of the LGBT community, I realized that I could use my interest in show business as a way to spread awareness of my community and ensure we were being heard in Hollywood.
However, the opportunities in California were hard to come by, as I was a small fish in a big pond.
I started looking into working in “the business” in Israel, where I’d gone on a January 2019 Birthright trip that made me feel connected to and welcome in the country. Thankfully, I found Masa’s Destination Israel, a five-month program that would help facilitate my dream.
I came to Israel to work, volunteer, and take trips while interning for the only LGBT film festival in the Middle East, the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival. Held at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, the festival has given me the incredible opportunity of being the head of transgender content and the festival programmer and digital media manager. I’ve always loved Israeli film, so this seems like the best outcome I could have imagined.
In Israel, the entertainment industry is growing, and the pool of show business hopefuls is much smaller than in California. I can actually affect change in the developing industry, which would’ve been much more difficult had I stayed in the film capital, where millions are busy competing just to get their foot in the door.
Not to mention, I got to write a letter directly to director Quentin Tarantino while he was in Israel, a letter that probably would have never made its way to him in the United States.
There is great opportunity waiting here and more room to make a difference and help revolutionize film.
Outside of my work, I feel very at home in Tel Aviv, an extremely accepting city to the large LGBT community, including many transgender people like myself. I’m comfortable living here and making my voice heard in the workplace. This really comes through in my work, where I express my opinion and people listen.
Israelis have also empowered me to express myself proudly. Many of them are not afraid to be direct and go after what they want, inspiring my confidence — a valuable attribute that can propel me forward.
Israel provides me the space to grow both professionally and personally. Whether it be back in the U.S. or in Israel, I am more prepared to advance a career in the entertainment industry at full speed and understand the power of its impact.