Sometimes you get lucky. And sometimes you get all the guidance, support that you could ever need. Ashley Dakin, a 2013 graduate from Regent University’s School of Communication & the Arts (SCA), will tell you her story involves both.
Dakin wanted to be an actress since she was 10 years old. As the youngest in her family, she quickly identified with the role of “entertainer.”
“I was always singing and dancing around the house,” says Dakin. “But I wasn’t sure if I could ever be an actor, because I was very shy and quiet.”
Luckily, her nature was trumped by her nurture, she explains, as she recalls how her mother always encouraged her pursuits. As an artist herself, Dakin recalls her mother’s profound impact on her aspirations as a young girl. Dreams to move to Los Angeles and pursue an acting career. Dreams that, for so many, are put on the back-burner, or get snuffed out all-together.
“It felt too big, and I was too scared to do it,” says Dakin. “It was so overwhelming. I knew I’d be so far from home, and I didn’t know if it’d be right. I kept saying, ‘I had to wait until God’s timing to bring me out there.’ And I kept putting it off.”
After she completed her MFA in Acting from Regent, Dakin put off the inevitable – so far that she almost reconsidered whether she should even pursue acting all-together. After graduation, she took a job as an adjunct professor in Michigan.
“I was tired of moving, and I was starting to make more friends,” says Dakin, who was overwhelmed at the prospect of starting over again somewhere else. “I felt like I needed to ‘grow up’ and ‘get a real job.’ But I had this itching in me, and I needed to keep pursuing it.”
And so she did, deciding on a Russian-roulette whim to move to L.A. on faith and within the span of a month.
“I just made it an adventure,” says Dakin, who found solace “couch-hopping” in the homes of many of her friends who already lived in L.A. “It was really great, it felt like vacation. I just figured I’d find a job when I got here.”
According to Dakin, God instantly provided a job, booking commercial gigs all the while doing the “actor thing” of serving at a rooftop restaurant at a hotel in West Hollywood.
“I started booking commercials consistently,” says Dakin. “That told me that I was here for a reason.”
It was a bold, fast move. And so far it’s given Dakin plenty of benefits. Since launching into her acting career in California, she’s landed gigs for commercials for well-known companies such as Gymboree™ and E-Harmony.
Dakin explained that she uses many skills she learned from her advanced degree – especially her coursework that focused on camera acting and “nailing” an audition – as she prepares both for auditions and enters her various jobs.
Although, Dakin says that just because she’s tasted success in her new life out West doesn’t mean the road has been easy.
“It’s tough,” she says. “It’s really competitive. And I’ll walk into an audition and there’ll be a room full of girls who look just like me.”
Dakin combats this notoriously discouraging bit of the industry by putting her identity in Christ.
“You can go much further. You can go further in your enjoyment of life and the way you look at things. My identity isn’t in whether or not I get a role; what’s important is that I’m being a good witness, that I’m being a light and loving support to other actors,” says Dakin. “I’m still in the midst of waiting to see how God will use me here, but I know that as long as I’m focusing on following God and focusing on Him, He will work everything out for His good.”
Learn more about Regent University’s School of Communication & the Arts.