What does it take to succeed in this industry in despite all obstacles? I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Eileen Grubba and here’s her responses filled of wisdom, wonder, and impeccability:
1. What is the key to have the level of success you achieved in Hollywood?
Hard work, determination, endurance, courage and adaptability. We always hear about the hard work and determination, but we must also have the courage to constantly adapt in order to navigate through the endless road blocks in a long term career. I worked my tail off for many, many years, and still do. Not only on the business side of this career, but also endless hours of training, especially on the stage at The Actors Studio. I was determined to make sure I was the best actor I could possibly be. It took a lot of courage to keep trying new things, new characters, and to keep walking through doors after too many rejections to count. Sometimes the rejections were cruel, painful and downright wrong, but we have to learn from them, adjust and keep going. You have to keep getting back up, finding new reasons to believe in yourself, and just keep going, no matter what knocks you down. If this is your dream, you will have to work harder than you have ever worked, endure much more than you ever imagined, and be prepared to struggle for many years. That is the reality of our industry. It’s not nearly as glamorous as it seems. But if you really want it, and have a strong purpose for doing it, you will find a way. Eventually.
2. Talent & Diligence: what is most important and makes you a success? Is it your natural talents you were born with or your diligence?
Talent is important, but in my opinion, training is critical. Some people are naturally, creatively gifted, but even with great talent, it is the constant training that makes you better than everyone else when those ever elusive opportunities arise. You have to fine tune your instrument constantly, so that you can quickly hit whatever notes you need to hit, in auditions, and on sets. We rarely get the ideal circumstances and prep we may want for a role, so we have to be ready to bring it, anytime, anywhere, on a moment’s notice. It’s so much fun to get a challenging scene on a film or show, and know you are ready to play, no matter what comes your way. That is what training does for you. Gets you ready, no matter the circumstances. This is why I am so grateful for my many years of training at The Actors Studio. Every time I felt confident in my abilities, I’d try something even more challenging, and have to find my way through it, until there was nothing left that scared me. My fantastic mentors and coaches always pushed me to go further, try new things, and saw where I needed to explore and expand. Barbara Bain, Martin Landau, Lou Antonio, Allan Miller and so many more brilliant actors and directors at The Actors Studio helped me continuously see where I could improve and grow. They made sure I was ready. Now when I’m on a set, I’ll try anything, no matter how ugly, scary, risky, because I have tried it all on the stage. And when creative decision makers see that confidence and ability on set, they often expand your roles.
3. How do you manage your time wisely to carry out a Hollywood acting career for over decades? What advice would you give to new aspiring actors when it comes to time management?
We have so much work to do as actors. We have to carve out time for classes, training, stage work, staying physically fit, preparing for auditions, learning lines, taping auditions, finding agents, managers, work opportunities, getting headshots, cutting reels, doing social media, promoting our shows, etc... We have to stay on top of what’s happening in our industry, go to shows, watch new hit series, see the movies that are making waves. Those of us who are working actors are also usually creating projects, writing scripts, producing plays and films, whatever it takes to create those breaks. On top of all that, 95% of actors also have a 2nd job to cover the bills. That is a lot to juggle, and we haven’t even gotten to maintaining a personal life. Many of us move at a frenetic pace to make it all happen. Time management is critical and we have to work smart. When I look back on my career, the greatest time wasters were business lunches, “industry networking” events, and building other people’s projects for them. And here’s why... NO ONE IS GOING TO MAKE YOUR CAREER HAPPEN FOR YOU. No one but you. It is a rare thing for anyone to ever fight for an actor unless they have a very close personal relationship with them. Those who say they will, usually have hidden agendas that will waste your time and drain your spirit. Be realistic about this: what do you really have to offer, and what is it they really want from you? The people who are making things happen in this business, do not have time to get close to all the people who meet them. We spend too much time believing that if we meet the right people, agents, the famous actors, the working directors, writers, producers, they will instantly see how amazing we are, and then reach out and make our careers happen. Rather than spending time and money going to events where you might meet the right people, use your time and resources to make sure you become an asset to the right people. Become so valuable that they come looking for YOU. Many people you meet will want YOU to make their projects happen for them. If you have that kind of energy and resourcefulness, make your own projects. Make sure you are in control of the outcome. That way you can be sure no one is going to stop the project after all your hard work, or replace you with a bigger “name”. These lessons are the hardest, and will take many years out of your life, not to mention the cost to your spirit, so learn from my mistakes and save yourself the time and heart. Find your true friends, you know who they are, people of like mind and work ethic, people who will have your back, and go create projects together. Help each other, fight for each other, recommend each other. Create a team that is actually effective, and mutually supportive, because people succeed in groups. You don’t have time to know everyone in town, you just need to know those who are able and willing to be a part of a solid, productive team. Work begets work. The right people will welcome you in when they need your talents to benefit their work. So use your precious time and energy to create great work. Make your own films, web series, projects. Do the hard work first. Don’t waste a single minute thinking that anyone is going to do it for you. Just get down to business. To sum it up, the best time management advice I can give to aspiring actors is to focus on what really matters: THE WORK. Be the best at what you do and go out and do it. Nose to the grindstone. That’s what works.
Eileen Grubba was born in Anchorage, Alaska into a family of eight children. Her memorable, edgy roles in shows like Sons of Anarchy (2008) and Hung (2009) have gained her a reputation for courageous character work. She is a lifetime member of the world renowned Actors Studio where she is known as a “force” on stage and screen, and is often compared to theatre greats Geraldine Page and Kim Stanley.
Eileen began her professional acting career in Atlanta, Georgia where she trained at the Alliance Theater, sang in a choir, performed in musicals, and worked in commercials and Independent films. She then moved to NYC where she trained at HB Studios, sang cabaret, and worked in TV and Film before moving to Los Angeles. In LA she has trained constantly at The Actors Studio under the tutelage of Martin Landau, Allan Miller, Barbara Bain, Lou Antonio, Mark Rydell, Catlin Adams.
She has appeared in many films and Television series, including: NBC’s Game of Silence, Criminal Minds (2005), Bones (2005), Sons of Anarchy (2008), Hung (2009),Enlightened (2011) CSI: Miami (2002), The Mentalist (2008) Cold Case (2003), Nip/Tuck(2003), The Closer (2005), Monk (2002), etc...
On stage she has tackled challenging roles in plays by Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, David Mamet and many more. She was also the lead in many musicals including “Cinderella”, “The Little Shop of Horrors” and “Dracula”.
Perhaps what is most unique about Eileen is her extreme life experience and what she does with it. She overcame a spinal cord injury and paralysis developed during childhood from a vaccine, and later beat cancer that was caused by the treatments. She also lost both parents to cancer at a young age. As a child, they said she would never walk again, but today Eileen hikes mountains, and with her indomitable spirit, is a constant inspiration to others. She is an advocate for children with disabilities and fights for the inclusion of people with physical differences in the Entertainment Industry. She is determined to create ALL inclusive diversity in Entertainment and therefore a more accepting world for everyone.
In an effort to help others get through their battles, she hosts an internet radio show called “Everyday Warriors with Eileen Grubba” that encourages thriving through life, regardless of your challenges, and speaks at events about overcoming life’s challenges.
Eileen is a writer, director, producer, and has an extensive resume in casting, working for network shows and feature films. She has been hired to write several screenplays with strong women characters, and has produced several films and a pilot. She draws on her heavy life experience to create dramatic characters with gut-wrenching emotional depth and compassion, on stage, onscreen, and in her writing. For more information, visit: