• Courtney Dianne

Interview: In Hollywood

Shannon D., 44, is an aspiring screenwriter turned elementary school teacher and part-time wedding/portrait photographer who didn't let being an outlier stop her from trying to make it in Hollywood. She's also the cousin I most admired growing up - self-aware, daring, and unflappable in her career and vivacious, popular, and sisterly in her friendships. Hear from her, in her own words, on the joy in contentment, the ties that bind, and the chance for a redo.

Being plus size all of my life, I am very aware of how the world views overweight people.

We are looked at as lazy, smelly, and, at times, not worthy of an innocent, casual smile between two people. Being black simply adds to the negative perceptions some people have. I want people to know that I am a hard-working and determined woman who will do what it takes to be successful (my definition of that term) in whatever field, career, hobby, or relationship that I pursue. Finishing my second master’s degree, teaching full-time, and managing my photography business are not the profile of a fat and lazy person.

After getting my undergraduate degree, I up and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in screenwriting.

There was confirmation that I was making the right decision because, there, at the airport and on the same plane also moving to LA was a high school classmate. As we shared our dreams on the plane from Kentucky to La-La Land, we realized we would be staying only ten minutes away from each other. Come on, if that wasn’t confirmation! Well, a little over a month later, Sep. 11th occurred, and I headed back home, due to fear, funds running low, homesickness, and not having found gainful employment. This might have been the one regret that I have in life so far. That I would have stuck it out a little longer. But, as long as there is breath in my body, there is always the chance for a redo, right? I learned that it can be exciting to do new things, but the bonds that tie family and true friends together were stronger than the desire to be the next Spike Lee.

As people, we put too much emphasis on what we should be “when we grow up.”

This leads to a rat race of finding happiness outside of who we were meant to be. The Bible tells us that we should learn to be content in every circumstance. Content doesn’t mean complacent, but being content allows you to enjoy the season that you are in, whatever that may be --- single or married, raising a house full of kids or childless, having traveled the world or having never left your town. In all things, we can be grateful and content and enjoy the journey. Contentment removes the overbearing load of being a “success” from your shoulders.

By age 30, I was going to be a married, Oscar-award-winning screenwriter/director with five beautiful children, a huge house in Malibu, and a yacht.

I am now 44 and have not reached any of those goals. Priorities shift, and life isn’t a linear progression of checkboxes; it looks more like the stock market graphs. But, as long as there is an upward trend, be happy. I do still want a yacht and to, at least, finish that screenplay, though.

I am one that gets bored with careers, and I like to try new things every five years or so.

Growing up there was always a list of things I wanted to be, so now I’m just chipping away at my “When I Grow Up” list.

Being an outlier has taught me not to look to others for acceptance.

My advice to others is that you have two choices in life: be happy or try to make others happy. Which one will you choose?

Looking for a wedding or portrait photographer for life's special moments? Check out Shannon's portfolio and services at Shannon Drummond Photography.

Photo Credit: Shannon Barton


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