Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
Well hello! My name is Denise Poole, and I am a Performing Artist and Entrepreneur. I am Canadian born, from Burnaby, BC and now based in Los Angeles. I grew up in the arts, taking dancing, singing, and acting lessons from a very young age. I spent years on the stage performing with true passion, but secretly poured my soul into writing. Little did I know that this would become one of my strengths in the industry. I moved to Los Angeles alone, and struggled with Immigration for many years. I spent three years failing to obtain a work visa, but I refused to give up, and on my third try I was approved. I want all the artists out there who have been told their dreams are “crazy” to know that it IS possible – whether it’s to move to another country, make a living with your art, or just do something different! Don’t give up. Believe in yourself and follow your heart. To this day I am still creating my success story, and I am still getting comfortable sharing that story. It has never been easy for me to open up personally, but when I do I realize how important it is to connect to others. I don’t come from money, or from fame. I grew up with adversity and hardship. But I continue to rise and represent for everyone who ever had a dream and felt like life is a struggle. That is what I want you to know about me.
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
My upbringing was definitely NOT normal. As much as I struggled with it growing up well into my adult years, I now realize that this is my story and no one shares the same path I walked to get where I am now. This is my strength. All the trials I have been through, the blocks, the set-backs…. I tell my story in hopes of inspiring others who may face similar obstacles. A way for me to do that is in my writing. I write female-driven action movies that you would typically see men in those roles. I hope one day to be able to have a team to help me bring these movies to life and break down the stereo-types of females roles in action movies. I also have a business, Flaunt Entertainment, that books performing artists for work. As I grow the company brand I am focused on it being a community for all artists. I have always wanted to bring together my love for dance, music, acting and writing. Though right now my business feels somewhat separate from my acting career, I know when they come together it will be an unstoppable force.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
There is a memory that is special to me I had on set when I was first starting my career. It was my first lead role in a short dramatic film. I had just come out of acting school and I was ecstatic to start my career. We had been shooting for a few days and there was a particular scene in bed where my co-star and I were talking and laughing about an inside joke. I laid next to him on my mark. The director called action. The scene began and we proceeded with our lines. As we gazed into each others eyes we shared an intimacy that enveloped me as an actor, I was lost in the moment. Suddenly I mentally became hyper aware of my surroundings. There were seven other people in this room staring at us having this private moment. It was only a split second I felt the presence of the crew, and I went back into the scene, but it was that moment I realized I was doing what I was born to do – act. That real moment I shared with my fellow actor, I was able to give to the camera. My love for filming had been cemented into my soul.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
My immigration to the USA comes to mind. If you’re a first-gen Immigrant, I’m sure you know the pain of how hard this is. Moving to Los Angeles will hit you like a ton of bricks even if you’re American. Coming from another country, that’s a whole new level of culture shock. I even had issues before I moved. The first time I tried to visit LA by myself I actually got stopped at the border and taken to secondary customs, ultimately being banned from entering the US for two years (spoiler alert, I had done nothing wrong). After waiting several years for an appeal my flag was finally removed. By then I thought I was ready to move, I had an agency lined up and they promised me an easy H1B visa (a specialty occupation visa that is used for modeling). That was not what the Universe had in store! It happened to be a particular year the US decided to crack down on granted visas. The original lawyer left the agency, and I had not paid the extra money for premium processing (now I know that is a huge mistake), so months went by before I received a decision. By that time I had fallen in love with my new LA life despite not being able to get legal work. When the application was rejected, my world crashed. But I was not willing to let my dream go that easy. I decided to try again, this time educating myself on the system. It took me a year to build what I needed for a solid application. You need to show that you are truly top in your field in your country with media, awards, letters of recommendation, and contracts for upcoming jobs. I applied for the O-1 visa (a visa reserved for people of extraordinary ability, in this case for acting) with high hopes. This time I had done it right. But again, my application was denied. It had now been over two years and I started to lose the support of all those around me. People told me to give up and go home, I lost contacts, relationships and hope. But I just couldn’t give up. I decided to go for it one more time. I worked my ass off for another year, building a new case, new media, new awards, new contracts. And finally I was ready to submit another case. This was a moment that I knew I needed to let go. I had held on so tightly to this dream of living in LA. I wanted it so badly. I had given up everything for this. I hadn’t seen my family is years, I was broke and in debt, the career momentum I had was completely gone… I finally said to the Universe, if this is not meant for me I will accept this and know that perhaps this is not where I am meant to be right now. I was ready to go home. It was at that moment that the weight I had been carrying for over three years was finally lifted off my shoulders. I remember it so vividly. I could literally feel the weight disappear. I was no longer in resistance. I understood what it meant to let go. Three weeks later, I received a call from the lawyer. My visa was approved. I can’t describe to you how I felt getting that phone call, I was elated. I have been lucky to have felt that feeling a few times in my life as an artist. There is something so special about the achievement of a dream. One you worked so hard for. One you refused to let die. But in the end, understanding when to let go and trust the process was the real challenge. When I am frustrated I go back in time and remember that moment the weight floated away from my heart. Not surprisingly, I have repeated this process since. A lesson that I continue to grow from. Learning to let go has been my biggest challenge and greatest achievement so far.
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
There are so many people I admire in the industry that choosing three is hard! Give me a min here…… ok let’s see…. I have been a fan of Tina Fey for forever so for sure let’s meet her! She is a boss and creating a comedy series with her would be the ultimate fantasy. I feel like Jerry Bruckheimer would turn all my ideas to gold. I have so much respect for his work, I would cry if I got to do something with him. One of my dreams has always been to work with Nicolas Winding Refn. Ever since I saw the movie Drive, I felt like his directing style spoke to me in a way no one else’s work had before. He has definitely inspired my work and I would have him as a director any day.
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