Free to Live

 A still from my video response to the casting call for the unknown Fox series. Video below (video by Anjali Daryanani password: Anjali)
A still from my video response to the casting call for the unknown Fox series. Video below (video by Anjali Daryanani password: Anjali)

A lot of people don’t know this but before I decided to move to Cali, Colombia, I was moving to Los Angeles, California. It was spring 2014 and my company was flying me to interview for another position in LA. The thought of working while auditioning for roles on TV and movies in Hollywood excited me. Just in the winter, I had just sent in my video audition to play a singing gay character named “Jamal” on a Fox TV series, unknown at the time. I was rejected because the casting call had ended before they received my video. But I was still motivated by this job opportunity that could potentially open more of those doors.


The day before I was set to fly and interview, I received a call telling me the job was being postponed and that my interview had been canceled. I was bummed out because I was already being laid off my full time job and close to quitting my part-time. The next week, an email arrived in my inbox from a non-profit associated with the scholarship I had received to study in South Africa almost four years ago, at the time. They were inviting me to teach in Colombia as a volunteer recieving a small stipend to live on. I would have just two weeks to decide and a month to prepare to fly to Bogot√° for training. I had nothing to lose and had been itching to live abroad again. The rest is history. 

After almost a year of teaching in Cali, I decided to move back home since the very modest stipend wasn’t quite putting me where I wanted to be. Upon my return, I started seeing pilots for the TV show, Empire. One of the characters was Jamal, a gay singer. From the moment I saw Jussie Smollett I always thought “wow, that could have been me but good for him.” Within two months of returning to the States, I found myself physically assualted by on two separate occasions, motives unknown. It sent me through trials of PTSD but I preservered. Still from that moment forward and for the  next two years, I’d contemplate why I even decided  to move back to the States. I could always create great moments, but beneath all that was the hate and indifference I witnessed almost everyday. If not in real life then through the media and current events. For me, Trump’s election only signified the mess to come and I wanted no parts. 

Just months before moving back to Colombia for a second time something funny happened. I had been galavanting in DC’s Cobolt, making a spectacle of myself dancing on poles and shit when suddenly, Jussie Smollett and his entourage walked in. I was somewhere between star struck and salty because here he was stealing my spotlight – again. But I didn’t know then that the life I have now is closer to the life I truly want. Hearing about him being assaulted this week in a hate crime not only breaks my heart and hits close to home but also resparks the epiphany that I am where I am right where I am supposed to be. 

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