This episode was 17 years in the making. Joining me on the podcast is a woman who had to punch fear in the throat and shut down a successful business in order to chase her true dream.
An award-winner in two different careers, Ana Lydia Monaco stopped by to walk us through her big, scary career pivot and let us know how the shift worked out! Her insights on being true to who you are and walking through life with grace are going to rock your socks. And most importantly, her story will inspire you to chase your dream.
Growing up, nobody in Ana Lydia’s immediate family was encouraging her to pursue her dreams. In fact, most of them didn’t understand her dreams. In their world she was supposed to go to college and become a doctor, lawyer, or accountant. That was what they knew, so that’s all they encouraged her to pursue.
There is nothing wrong with being a doctor, lawyer or accountant, as long as that’s what you want to do. Listen in to find out how she found the courage to buck that system.
In this episode we discussed:
- How Ana Lydia helped engineer my most embarrassing celebrity moment
- What made her decide to shutter her award-winning PR business
- What made her keep going when people told her to stop
- How you can find the courage to chase your dream
- When she knew she wanted to be a filmmaker
- How she handled the pressure of being a young, latina woman breaking barriers in entertainment
Who is Ana Lydia Monaco?
Ana Lydia is an award-winning filmmaker, exhibited photographer, ex-PR specialist, and furbaby mama who lives and works in Los Angeles.
Her raw dramatic stories straddle divergent cultures that challenge and satisfy audiences with political and social subtext. She is focused on writing, directing, and producing content that will make audiences laugh, cry, think, and see the world differently.
Too American to be Mexican and too Mexican to be American, Ana Lydia straddles being “White Latina” and “Brown Latina,” while being both Mexican and American, in her personal life and career.
A native Angeleno by way of the San Fernando Valley, she spent her childhood summers traveling in Mexico until her family decided to stay in Guadalajara—for five years. It was in the patio of her maternal great-grandmother’s home where she wrote and directed her first play when she was seven years old.
To make sense of her suburban life, her strict Mexican parents, and the heat of the San Fernando Valley, she used paint brushes to create surrealist realities that made more sense in her teenage mind. When the colors and textures didn’t quite match what was in her head, she began writing short stories, plays, and eventually graduated with a degree in marketing.
Married and a mom to furbaby, Princess Maya Candice Monaco, Ana Lydia is an Aquarius and INFJ. When she’s not immersed in the L.A. art community, she’s experimenting in the kitchen or sharing random musings with her 20,000 friends on Twitter.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Allegra Sinclair 0:05
Welcome to the Your Confident Self podcast with Allegra Sinclair. Get ready to punch fear in the throat and gain confidence like never before. I help corporate women get the confidence to ask for the job they want and do the work they love. Isn't it time you got unstuck and showed the world how fabulous you are?
Allegra Sinclair 0:29
Hey, this is Allegra. Welcome to this week's episode of the podcast. My guest today feels like family. I have known her we think when we were talking earlier, we figured out it might be about 17 years. Wow. I know some people aren't that old who are listening right now. But we have known each other for about 17 years. And she's definitely chosen people. She's one of those people who I met instantly like and it is not that way with everyone. She is so confident in her spot and confident in her skills. And she's definitely one who knows how to punch fear in the throat, which you know, we love around here. She is also an award winner in two different careers. So when we met she was in her former career as an award winning public relations professional. She has now shifted, made the big scary career pivot and is focused on film, writing, directing and producing films, not just for entertainment sake, but to make the audience's laugh, cry, think and see the world differently. And her insights on being true to who you are. And walking through this journey of life with grace are going to rock your socks. Help me welcome today's guest, Ana Lydia Monaco. Welcome to the show.
Ana Lydia Monaco 1:54
Allegra. So good to be with you.
Allegra Sinclair 1:58
So one of the things I was most excited to talk with you about besides the fact that it has been way too long. I was going back to our email threads for how long we have known each other and I think it is 20 years.
Ana Lydia Monaco 2:11
Allegra Sinclair 2:12
It has to be because I have lived in North Carolina now I think either 14 or 15 years. And we met when I was in General Mills in Minnesota. So it's at least 16 or 17 years ago.
Ana Lydia Monaco 2:28
Oh my god. We cannot tell people how old we are.
Allegra Sinclair 2:33
Oh, I lie all the time. Some days I have lied so much about how old I am, I honestly can't remember myself. In the south, it's rude to ask a woman how old she is, which is why I can't leave. If I go somewhere else, they may think that's an appropriate question. But it has been at least 17 years.
Ana Lydia Monaco 2:55
Oh my God. I was a baby publicist when you met me too.
Allegra Sinclair 3:01
I know. And you and John Echeveste are the authors of the only starstruck Tongue Tied moment I have ever had. And I'm about to embarrass you a little bit by telling you what happened. So all my listeners will know. Yes. Ana Lydia did this to me. So we were in New York at the Hispanic national parade or the Puerto Rican national parade. And I had been telling you how I had a crush on the particular actor, and that I don't get starstruck. And I talked about all these actors I've met and all these athletes I've worked with, and I was like, Oh, no, I'm always cool. And we were in the trent, waiting for the Trix rabbit to get in a big old cereal bowl and motor on down the street. And at this moment, I had already met Jennifer Lopez. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, she's lovely. And she's tiny. She looks like a little beautiful porcelain doll. A toffee-skinned porcelain doll. So I'm all in my moment. I'm lucky I don't get starstruck. And then John tapped me on the shoulder. And then you said turn around, and I turned around. And who's standing there? Do you remember?
Ana Lydia Monaco 4:01
Allegra Sinclair 4:03
Oh my gosh worst moment of my life and you don't, remember? It was Jimmy Smits.
Ana Lydia Monaco 4:08
I do remember!
Allegra Sinclair 4:12
See, I thought we were friends. You said turn around. I turned around and there was the six foot threeness of Jimmy to the forking, Smits. And I lost my mind. I didn't scream. But I did look at him and go, "Oh my god. Do you know who you are?" Like, did I just say that out loud? I was horrified.
Allegra Sinclair 4:38
I said to Jimmy Smits. Do you know who you are.
Ana Lydia Monaco 4:43
I forgot that's where I met him.
Allegra Sinclair 4:45
And it was life changing for me in more ways than one. So I managed to love you past that event. And I still do. But I still remember that as the only time I have ever been starstruck.
Allegra Sinclair 4:58
I honestly Can't remember what I said after do you know who you are. Because I'm pretty sure my soul left my body for about 20 minutes. And I do remember him being gracious and lovely and me thinking he's awful pretty in person.
Ana Lydia Monaco 5:16
He was really young. He was like, at his peak, he was really manly. I can't remember what he was working on. Oh my god,
Allegra Sinclair 5:30
I don't care. It was probably NYPD Blue. I don't care. What I care about is that I was mortified that I wasn't my usual gracious self. And I will always I hold that against John because he set it up. But you set me up. But we're gonna put all that behind this. Because that seems like a lifetime ago.
Ana Lydia Monaco 5:52
Oh my God so long ago, so long ago.
Allegra Sinclair 5:56
So tell my audience a little bit about what you're doing now.
Ana Lydia Monaco 6:01
Well, I'm a filmmaker. So I write produce and direct content, whether it's features or short films. And I also get hired to work on feature films and commercials as a script coordinator, as a writer and as a production coordinator as well. So do my own and I get hired to work on other people's stuff as well.
Allegra Sinclair 6:29
Amazing. So when I knew you, you were working at a boutique PR agency that specializes in Latina, Hispanic, what's the right term?
Ana Lydia Monaco 6:39
It's Spanish PR, and the reason I was hired and I don't know if you recall, but I was one of the very, very few people at the time that did bilingual, bicultural outreach, yes, I was focused on reaching like the younger more acculturated Latino market across the US. And we still weren't doing social media. But I was doing like really interesting, like experiential type things. And this is how I ended up on on working with you because we had like the circus and we had the experiential activities that we were doing around tricks and the brand, etc. In General Mills, we were doing. We were doing things that were really unique and different. And if people think like, oh, Latinos are everywhere now and to the point where there's so many Latinos people think are part of the general market. But at the time there really, I mean, there was an explosion of Latino media. But there wasn't an explosion of media that was inclusive, to like a second generation college educated, bilingual, bicultural, Latino, so we have like events and activities and partnerships and reach out to publications and media that were a match for for that audience. And that literally built my career because I was working with you. And I was working with Mervyn's, before target came to LA to Southern California. And I was doing like a fashion beauty. Basically everything I still do like fashion, beauty, travel, entertainment, and food culture,
Allegra Sinclair 8:22
When you started working with, because when you started working with General Mills, obviously we weren't the first clients you work with. So tell me, what attracted you to PR? And how did you feel about it as a career when you were doing it?
Ana Lydia Monaco 8:35
People are going to be surprised I had no interest in PR whatsoever.
Ana Lydia Monaco 8:46
Being from the valley, like, I had no idea what PR was, I knew that I wanted to work somehow related to fashion and an industry somewhat related to fashion. I knew that I didn't want to be a designer or our work. So you know, or sewing I knew I didn't want to be in the the technical aspects of the business that I wanted to be part of it. And I wanted to be close to entertainment. Because again, I was Hispanic and there was no one in my family telling me like, Hey, you can be a writer, you can be a director, these are things that I was told that they were hobbies. Writing was definitely a hobby or that's the way it was seeing my family. So had to get some kind of a business degree. If I didn't want to be a doctor or lawyer or an accountant. And the closest thing that I could find was marketing. And people have to remember like back then like 20 years ago, 2025 years ago, there is no such thing as an online space where you can go and do surveys and little test like what do you want to be when you grow up and you couldn't like go online and get like a quick little snippet about a school and mean, like you knew nothing, you basically just knew whatever your high school counselor told you. My parents were middle class and they, you know, their belief was, it doesn't really matter what school you go to boy, were they wrong, but they're like, it doesn't matter what school you go to, you just need to get a degree and get a job and you know, build your career. And look, you're gonna have all these things like we do, right? You're gonna have the house, you're gonna have the kids you're gonna have magically, when you go to college, we all found out. Yeah, true. I do remember getting into like, I think it was like a washington dc trip for scholars or something like that. And my parents were really strict, and they didn't let me go. And I remember the professor going to my parents, and saying, this is a really good opportunity for your daughter, like, she's one of the few students that's going to be able to go, and I'm going to help her get into USC, and, you know, she's gonna do good. And my parents are like, no, like, she's got to stay home. She's gonna go locally, we're gonna get her car, which they did. He got me a new Toyota. And wherever she Klaus you, that's where she's gonna go. She doesn't have to pay rent. She doesn't have to pay for food. She doesn't even have to work, but she's not going to go anywhere.
Allegra Sinclair 11:17
So in your parents eyes, or I want to say it was parents but right. We all have a community that surrounds us, and suitable career aspirations were doctor, lawyer, accountant or business. Yep. And businessman marketing. So you studied marketing, and then
Ana Lydia Monaco 11:36
Ended up in PR, I volunteered at a big fashion show, it was the Macy's passport fashion show here in Santa Monica. And I was stopped helping press going in and out of the event. And they had a reporter or a journalist. It came from one of the Spanish language publications that couldn't speak English. So they looked at me or they started asking around, I don't think they targeted me, but I think they start asking around volunteers and everyone. And in a very typical fashion space, nobody could speak Spanish. And I raised my hand. And I said I could. So I ended up biting the reporter on the event giving, you know, giving her access to the celebrities and the designers taking her backstage helping her with a story. And I believe she said, You're really good publicist, Little did she know I was just a volunteer. And that's when, like it got in my head. I'm like, Oh, so this is publicity.
Ana Lydia Monaco 12:42
I had no way no access. I didn't know anyone in that space. Somebody had told me that Woodbury University in Burbank had a really good PR communications, I think it was a PR program. And they would hire and they help people get hired at different jobs and give them opportunities. And they suggested I go meet with them. So I do remember going to the campus and going to the Career Center. And there was like walls of like opportunities. And one of the opportunities was that immediate Media City Center, which was a mall in Burbank was looking for a PR intern. And I remember taking down the sign. And it wasn't even a sign it was just an eight and a half by 11. Like little paper and I had it written down and had the name of the person and the email and the contact and met email, I'm sorry, just the contact information. And I reached out to them. I had an interview. And they hired me and I was an intern non paid intern for I want to say almost a year while I worked full time as a manager at a store at a retail fashion store because I wanted to work in fashion. And that was how I got my start in PR because once they offered me a paid job, from intern to pay job, like I am ready to look for a paid job. So I started looking for a paid job. There was the Help Wanted ads. I don't know if you remember that. There was Help Wanted ads.
Ana Lydia Monaco 14:21
I remember like
Allegra Sinclair 14:22
Back in the Stone Age, scratching out our message. That isn't even that long ago.
Ana Lydia Monaco 14:30
It was like 20 years ago, right? So I started looking for work and there was an ad that stood out it said something about like looking for a communication specialist, a communication specialist, and I faxed them my resume. And I got a call to schedule a phone interview. And not to schedule an in person interview. Ended up being that I had a phone interview. While I was trying to scheduled this interview and in person. And it was a really nice gentleman also from the south, so must be a southern thing. And he, he claims that I showed up with pigtails and cats tennis shoes to my interview, and that he knew,
Allegra Sinclair 15:16
I find that very hard to believe that he thought that you had on Keds. The hair, I'm not sure. But I find it very hard to believe that your were wearing Keds.
Ana Lydia Monaco 15:27
They were leather kids if I was wearing them.
Ana Lydia Monaco 15:32
And he swears that nobody else would hire me. He's like, nobody else is going to hire you. You're awfully young or super inexperienced. You don't know what the heck you're doing. So he decided, like somebody else had given him a chance to give me a chance. And he fought against like the executive director. And then program managers. And it was a job at the American Lung Association. And I was hired to do communications. But again, this is how I started to do the entertainment campaigns, to do the youth campaigns to do anything related to Hollywood, they were doing like an anti smoking and Hollywood movies campaigns. So anything to do with like fashion or entertainment, I was the person that was hired to do it. And since I didn't go to a journalism school, or a communication school, or how to marketing, I'm sorry, or had a PR degree, my boss literally would stay with me after hours to show me how to write a press release. And he would read off the red mark the heck out of it. Until I got it right. He helped me start developing relationships with media with people, he explained to me the importance of a relationship being something of a long term, you know, process and versus something transactional. He taught me how to help before asking for someone to do something for you. So a lot of who I am professionally and even Personally, I owe a debt of gratitude to Kent, because he didn't have to do this, he could have very easily hired someone else that had experienced that he didn't have to stay after hours, to tell them how to write a press release, explain all these things. And instead, he took a chance on someone that didn't know what the heck that they were doing. And also somebody that was really sheltered. I grew up in the valley, I live with my parents through college, I didn't have the experience of living, you know, in the dorm and doing the college trips during spring break, or dating and you know, and having breakups and all that I knew nothing. I was very young, very inexperienced, super green, super innocent. I mean, some of the stuff that the older woman would tell me, I don't remember exactly, but I just remember the feeling of knowing like, I'm just so young, and I'm so dumb, and I don't know what the hell I'm doing, then I'm going to prove them all wrong. And he basically said that he was training me to get my first job. How long did your PR life last? day it was about 10 to 12 years, something like that. Yeah.
Allegra Sinclair 18:28
Okay, and at what point did you start to think to yourself, it was time to pivot?
Ana Lydia Monaco 18:33
I want to say that I was always at the edge of I'm very good at what I do. And you've worked with me so you know that I was. But my, my boss, and I hate sounding so cocky.
Allegra Sinclair 18:51
Are you kidding? Yeah, this is not the place to be humble. I'm always like, no, there are times when you should be humble. Like when you're eight.
Allegra Sinclair 19:01
That's the time to be humble. When you're talking about all that you have accomplished in your career way, if not you who's gonna toot your own horn, right. But I do get that right. And that's a fascinating phenomenon that I'm seeing in lots of my clients in that you will be so good at what you do, and not like it. So when I was asking, you know how you got into PR, and you're like, Okay, we're going to be shocked. I didn't like it. No, you would not. You would probably be surprised at the number of people who are in careers right now. And they're like, I don't know how I got here. I mean, they could trace like their career path. But if you ask them like what skills they enjoy using or like what they wanted to be when they grew up, they're not doing it for a number of different reasons. And the thing that I find fascinating about women as we are so resilient, and so versatile and so completely amazing, that we can become experts and really, really successful. It's something that we really don't like.
Ana Lydia Monaco 20:03
Right. And especially where you're put in a position as a woman of color where you're, you're a minority in a, in a business, where you're already only exist. I mean, at the time there was, it was the agency I worked at. And I think there was two other agencies and LA, which is one of the largest markets. And you know, because you were out there looking for agencies, and there wasn't that many, there wasn't that many people doing the job. So we have to do it, that belief better than somebody else, because there was so little business to be had, that we had to do everything in our power to not just be good, but be fast, because we wouldn't get work otherwise, or we wouldn't keep the clients or we wouldn't increase the budget or, you know, whatever the circumstances would be so, and I do think sometimes we end up in a career that it was not our choice. What I didn't think then, that I could have done is I could have continued to work on things I was passionate about. I could have, you know, on the side, I could have moonlighted and still written scripts or still, you know, worked on on films and done all these other things instead of just working all these years, and not being fulfilled in my career, but not being fulfilled in my passions. And
Allegra Sinclair 21:32
So was there a moment was there an event or a moment of time or a project that made you think, Okay, it's time, the hourglass just ran out, and I need to do something different.
Ana Lydia Monaco 21:42
I think when I was working with Disney, not with John, but on my own, I got Disney as a client. And I was presenting all these experiential ideas to Disney resorts and we had went from Disney resorts in Anaheim, and one Disney resorts in Orlando and all the different parts. And then we got ABC corporate, then we got Disney corporate, and then we got abc channel, we started getting more and more clients, right. And things were going well and I was working with them for two years and everything was confidential and nobody even knew that I was working with them. And I was putting together a presentation for a Halloween event. And it was the other Los Muertos activation. And I was really excited about this. I had done a ton of research had spoken to what we now call influencers. It's someone that did creative and artistic endeavors and like Phoenix like I had put this amazing plan together and had been approved like two levels at Disney and it was finally time to present it to Disney resorts here in LA. And she said that the Los Muertos was super religious and turn the idea down and I was your when you say she you're talking about your contact at Disney contacted Disney. Okay, so she had said it was too religious of an idea. She turned everything down like everything. And I had gone from like every single project, every single plan that I presented, so not just only passing every single level within Disney, and you know how it is in corporate America, you go level upon levels, and you go through approvals. So I've gone through all the different levels of approval and it was the final stage. So it was a for sure thing was just a matter of like, Okay, how are we activating this? Let's finalize the budget blah, blah, blah. And instead it was like, I hate this. I hate this. You know, we can't do something that's so religious, and turned everything down. And I remember being so crushed after that call. It wasn't even an in person meeting. It was a call and telling my husband how disappointed I was that something that was valuable. That could be so amazing. It's such an amazing opportunity for Disney was being turned down by this woman that happened to be Latina also. And I'm like I'm so tired of putting together the stories for my clients and them not happening for Disney was different because everything was happening but this was just like the last straw in a series of other events or other activations. Like we kept getting like walls put up like you can't do this because of the budget. You can't do this because of this. You can't do this because of that. So um, obviously we all know what happened after that. Disney has a partnership with Pixar and they wrote directed and produced Coco. Now they have the other Los Muertos, like many activation at one of the parks in here. So that literally happened within less than two years of me making that presentation and then saying it was too religious. So,
Allegra Sinclair 25:02
For those who don't know, I have seen CoCo. I am big fan. I don't know, I think they're probably targeted towards children, but I know them all. But in fact, last night, I was watching marijuana for like the fifth. So Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. So Coco definitely has a whole Well, I wouldn't say it has a religious overtone, but it definitely was about DNA as well as it was about ancestors and history. And there was a big seed in a church as well. So that's fascinating that when you were pitching, it was too religious. And then it takes a long time, right. So if Coco came out two years later, they were working on it like three years before that tie. So it's interesting, the timing that then Coco and other things came, were that close, close in theme, at least to what it was that you were pitching that was that was denied.
Ana Lydia Monaco 25:56
And that was the moment, I was really disappointed, disappointed and disheartened. And at the time, it was also like the start of social media, the beginning of like, Facebook, as we know it, and I started going on inappropriately, I look back, and I'm like, Oh, my God, it was so wrong, that I did this, but ranting about the lack of representation of black and Latino actors and stories, whether it was in the TV or whether it was in film, etc. And I started noticing the lack of that every story that we saw out there was pretty much the same thing. The the poor immigrant struggle story. And it just didn't make sense. It wasn't the only story. I mean, it's an important story to the only story, they start noticing it more and more and more. So it was just during that time, and I had just gotten married also. And so you go through this whole, like come to Jesus like time, it was just, it was a time it was a world that we were living at. It was my experience with Disney was my experience with presenting ideas and you know, continuously telling clients that, you know, let you know, come in all shapes and colors, and we don't just coexist with other Latinos. And you know, you're my friend, you're black. My husband is white, like, you don't live in a silo.
Ana Lydia Monaco 27:36
We're from Latin America, they just don't believe that I'm lucky I you've met me look like. It's comical. It was just that that time it was the timing it was it was, you know, the universe conspired to push me in a direction that I always wanted. Like, I was always film, I was always into writing, I directed my first play when I was seven. And I wrote it. So it was always part of who I was. I just never had the tools and know how, and the support to pursue a career in the industry that I really wanted to be in. And thanks to my husband and a few friends who were just so loving and helping me see what was what was obvious that I needed to pursue a career in film and TV. And I went back to school just to kind of test the waters.
Allegra Sinclair 28:38
Oh, before we get to school, let me ask a quick question. Sorry, I feel like I keep interrupting but I'm missing pieces. And I want to get it. So once you knew for sure that you wanted to make a change. And I heard you that I do believe that the universe kind of makes you uncomfortable until you're ready to do do, it keeps it keeps kind of dialing up the discomfort a little bit to say, okay, she could take that. Alright, let's turn it up at night. So I do believe that if we listen, and are obedient, that it does help guide us towards the things that we should do that, like make our heart sing. But once you really knew that you wanted to make a career change where did you start?
Ana Lydia Monaco 29:20
It was like you said, it's it's a very, very, very uncomfortable time, when you realize you have to shift. And it's also a very low movie time because you don't want to start telling people like, hey, I want to leave the career that I've been building for so many years, and I'm actually quite good at. I mean, I opened my own agency and I have Disney as a client. I had Macy's as a client, you know,
Allegra Sinclair 29:45
At an award-winning agency. You don't feel like you can say that, but I can brag. I think it's phenomenal, award winning, super successful agency.
Ana Lydia Monaco 29:57
You know, develop like the lifestyle. One burgers, collective and a series of conferences. So here I am, like doing all the things that seem to be aligned to keep me doing this for the rest of my life. And I simply wasn't happy. So it was there wasn't like a simple step of like, okay, I figure it out, this is not what I want to do. And then I did this. It wasn't that it was, it was a couple of years, I want to say where I was very uncomfortable, where I was going after clients that weren't a match for me and what I believed in, I mean, one of my clients was a holistic clinic in South America that claim to cure cancer. And I mean, I would have never in a million years, like pick that kind of climate, but I was just kind of reaching for anything to keep me in that space that I didn't need to be in anymore. I also shifted in terms of the people that I kept around me, um, I started getting physically ill too. So with a lot of different the universe was telling me on so many different paths in so many different levels, like,
Allegra Sinclair 31:09
it's time for you to go.
Ana Lydia Monaco 31:11
And it's not going to be easy, just do it, just do it. And if I didn't do one thing, and another thing would happen, like, it was even difficult in my marriage, it was just like, it was like, really, really, really hard time of like, maybe two, possibly three years, to the point where I went to this yoga retreat with a bunch of woman. And we're like hiking and having a good time. And I don't know if I landed wrong on my foot, or what I did. The point of the matter is my knee blew up to the size of a football. And I had her Yes, it was horrible. And I have to sit down and to the woman that were there on that trip, sat down with me. And we started sharing a couple glasses of wine because I was in pain and I wanted to numb it.
Allegra Sinclair 32:00
And does wine help with knee pain?
Ana Lydia Monaco 32:04
I think it helps with everything. California, whatever I was thinking, like, only hope. But it helped me like relax and kind of get out of my my head and share some intimate thoughts with the women that I was with and telling them that I was no longer happy doing PR and I think that was the first time I actually said it out loud. I was no longer happy. You know, putting together these conferences, I was no longer happy. You know, living that life. Because it is a lifestyle to work in PR and what a lot of people don't understand, it's like it is a lot, you don't just work in PR, you're part of the PR lifestyle. So um, I just I wasn't happy. And all of them that were there with me suggested I pursue what I was always passionate about, which was film. And to go back to school and and you know, take some time away from doing PR until I figured everything out. And I came back home and I told my husband and my husband was really supportive. And he said yes, this is what I've been wanting you to do for a really long time. Just go to school because, you know, we were we were in a really tough spot. I mean, it was a few years of, of just not being happy even being married or being with him with my friends with work with everything. So we all saw this as it's because I was pushing I get something that was really obvious. I had to transition. The Universe was giving me a million was a million signs. And I wasn't even looking to make a long story short, I, you know, I worked while I was going to school, I applied to a few schools, I got into one of my dream schools, which is art center, College of Design. And because I was literally I could literally take like get a bachelor's or get an get an MFA, I decided to get a Bachelor's. And I was there for two years and one quarter. And I created like an amazing portfolio that I felt really confident with. met some amazing professors and classmates. Within a week after graduating, I had my first gig and other than a few little breaks here and there. I've consistently been working since I graduated. Um,
Allegra Sinclair 34:39
That is amazing. There is so much important stuff. I'm just like, I was like writing notes so quickly. hardly keep up. There's so much good juicy stuff there. So one of the things I want to make sure that we don't miss is even when you had decided in your head and you knew that you needed to change there was discomfort, and some of the words that you use to describe what you were feeling. It was uncomfortable. It was lonely, it was frustrating, you didn't use the word but I'm going to throw in there, there might even have been a little fear seeping in there, okay?
Allegra Sinclair 35:13
Because if you turn away, if you turn away from what you have built to something that you have not yet built, that has to be frightening to turn your back on known for the unknown. But I think one of the things I hear over and over is, and then also, you said that after you came to that realization that you then tried to continue doing what you had been doing, and it didn't work. And that is a critical thing for people to get.
Allegra Sinclair 35:40
It's kind of like, if once you have opened yourself up to a new opportunity, the current situation never looks the same. So if I'm in a job, and I'm loving it, and I head on her calls me, and I take the call, and I let them pitch me on the new job, the job admin right then will never look the same, even if I don't go and pursue the job the headhunter talked about. But the fact that I actually opened myself up to this new possibility makes me think differently about the one that I'm in. Now, I may very well choose that situation all over again. But you'll choose it differently than you did before. If you send a resume out, your job is different from then on. You exchange numbers with some guy who flirts with you on the train, your boyfriend looks different. I'm just saying it when you open yourself up to new, the current looks different. So it was and you said you were unable to continue doing what you'd been doing that you actually didn't like, once you acknowledge that you didn't like it.
Allegra Sinclair 36:42
So I find people a lot in that painful place where they're like, I've been doing this for a long time. And it's been working, and now it's not working. And I'll ask them, who did you tell that this isn't working? You'll be like, what? And like, well, you told someone, you did something to shift your world. So you either told someone you didn't like it, or someone told you they didn't like it, something changed. The reason this now isn't working for you. So let's you know deal with what we're dealing with right now. Versus you're trying to go and reclaim something that is now gone. Right if that water has trickled on away. So there's so many important things about what you did and the time that you took to make sure that you like, loved that. You went and took a couple classes to see. So I've always had this like romantic notion about film. But do I really like it, take a couple classes and figure that out. Before you jump all the way down.
Ana Lydia Monaco 37:34
That's fantastic. Right. And it wasn't and then initially, and to backtrack a little bit was I didn't even admit to focus in on film, I was still focused on getting my MBA. And if I get my MBA, I will I was still refusing to see the obvious. I thought getting my MBA and working and in house corporate gig would fill what I was missing out on. And still not admitting to the fact that I really wanted to work in the film industry. And I had a really strong desire. And it's something that didn't happen overnight. It is something that I had been passionate about my entire entire life. And anyone that knew anything about me, knew I was passionate about entertainment I was passionate about. So if you had felt that way, sorry, if you had felt that way your entire life. Why were you reluctant to admit that that's what you wanted to do? Because it's easier to do something that you're paid for. And it's a for sure thing than going into the unknown. Especially, i
Allegra Sinclair 38:46
Ana Lydia Monaco 38:47
It is it is, but is it not?
Allegra Sinclair 38:50
I'm gonna poke that one more time, is it?
Ana Lydia Monaco 38:54
And I'll tell you why it's easier. And that comfort and reliability is easy. If you get a paycheck every week. And this is a for sure thing. It's easy. Going after something you're passionate about, especially in the arts in creative and cultural field. It's really really, really hard. I don't know of a single person unless you come from, you know, hollywood royalty, and even so they're stories that just did it. You're going to have to work extremely hard, doubly hard. triply hard to pursue a career in a creative career. So it is easier just to do any other job, for sure. But it is not easy to deny who you really are.
Allegra Sinclair 39:51
Say that again for the people in the back.
Ana Lydia Monaco 39:59
Like I said I think it was before we went into the podcast, that if I wouldn't have a strong sense of identity, that I have now destroyed a stronger sense of identity as I have now, I could have easily continued to work in PR while pursuing a film career outside of my regular nine to five, similar to what Ava DuVernay did, Ava DuVernay purse, shot her film, while still working in PR rented she was doing strictly entertainment Hollywood PR versus I was working with corporate clients doing their entertainment, you know, outreach type campaign. So it's a little different. But still I was in that world. If I had that sense of anybody has a sense of what they're really passionate about. And they know they can't make, you know, they're 100% income from this yet doesn't mean they're never be able to, then they can moonlight and it's gonna take a lot of work. But everybody needs a roof over their head and to be fed and have clothes on their back. While they're pursuing what they really want to do. Now, I have the fortune that my husband has a full time gig, and that he supported me. Because even though I think consistently working and I have breaks, the you know, the lights and the the lights in our place, and the food in our fridge is not reliant on my paycheck. If it was, it would be an entirely different thing.
Allegra Sinclair 41:39
So it is simpler to stay in your current spot. That is I say more guaranteed. But I say that I mean, you were working at a place and your big client left and you got laid off. So I think nothing really is stable. But it's easier. It's simpler rather, to stay in your current gig that's kind of feeling more guaranteed than it is to go out on your own, especially in the creative arts, I by the import. The thing that I really smart to though was, it gets more and more difficult to deny who you really are. So I think it is simpler, but it's not easier. Right? So a couple of weeks ago, I can't remember who I was talking with on the show and had to go back and look at the episodes. But we were talking about how, Oh, I remember it wasn't a couple weeks ago, but I was doing social media for an episode I think was 56 with a woman named Ty Goodwin. And she was talking about how, if you live a life that's not aligned with your purpose, things are more difficult. And we were talking about how we'll do all sorts of things to make it better to go to a job that we hate. So when you were saying, Oh, it's easier to stay where you are like sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't, because you do things in order to make it feel better. But I'm totally not under estimating the uncertainty of building a new career in a completely it doesn't even have to be something independent in entertainment. Going to a different company. There are challenges there. Right, any big pivot has challenges. But I think it also has big rewards, if what you are doing, honestly, is not what you really want.
Ana Lydia Monaco 43:16
Absolutely. And you said something very important how when you're doing something you're not meant to do and you're not happy doing it's a struggle, right. And when you are doing something that you are meant to do and that you're happy doing. The universe conspires to make it happen. And I put that on social media like all the time, like I'll meet the most random of people everywhere, like walking down the street with my dog, I met this woman who's a producer, who has lived here for I don't know, as long as I have. And I've never seen her. And she's like, send me your script, I can send it to a producer doesn't mean anything will happen. But it means that that I am now in a position where the universe is springing in it sounds really hokey. So some people may not believe it. But I I do believe that if you're in the right place, and you're in the right headspace, the universe conspires to bring the people that are aligned with you and your purpose. And if you want to Cairo power, whatever you want to call it, to help and support you as you grow within your career and within your life. And I see this on a weekly basis, like every single week, sometimes there's a week where every single day I meet like a random person, I get a random email, like even from you like we've, you know, we've talked on social media off and on. We haven't really talked on the phone in years. But we've stayed in touch through the years and it was only recently that you reached out about your, you know, your podcast, and the timing couldn't be better. So the universe is always I feel if you put it out there it comes right back to you. twofold, threefold, or whatever. But you have to be ready. And you know, for me, it took me to two to three years to get To the point where like, I need to go back to school. And I still wasn't even admitting to, and I want to focus on film. And then it still took like, another year from there. So it, it may, I don't think we can push ourselves to like, you got to make this change, you got to be in the right headspace. like everybody's going to do it in their own their own time. And although Hollywood is ages, I've met a lot of people that are way older than me. I mean, yesterday, I met with HBO. And they're like, yeah, we this is not the place for your first job. This is a place where you come after you've done several things. So in other words, they're looking for people that are, you know, mature and older. So there isn't, although Hollywood comes off as Oh, it's so ages. And I'm not saying it is isn't. But there is still opportunities for people that, you know, they want to go back to school, they want to start over or they you know, they figured it out a little bit later in life. And, and that's totally fine. I mean, when you figure out what you want to do, that's, that that's the right time. That's all you need to know.
Allegra Sinclair 46:05
I love that I was giggling about in my head. Not because it's so obvious to me that you are completely confident in what it is that you're doing now. Right. But even in that you have good days and bad days. Yeah. So like, what do you tell your? Right? Okay, I'm just, it cracks me up when people are like, Oh, if I just do this one thing, then everything will be perfect. And I'm like, honey, on what planet? I mean, I would like to visit. Where if you make one decision that everything is perfect thereafter? It just feels different, right? So understanding that you're confident in what you're doing. What do you say to yourself when you have setbacks?
Ana Lydia Monaco 46:47
Oh, my God. I mean, even yesterday, when I had that big meeting, and it was a great opportunity, and then I walked out of there, like, it was a good meeting. But she also said, This is not the first place to come to, you have to have like, a lot of experience a big raise a long resume, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, Oh, my God, she probably thinks I'm a loser. I shouldn't have been here. So I went from like this high to like this low. And then I had another meeting and somebody else made me feel good. And I felt really positive. And some greens, I feel that you have to be in that space. Like you can't push away anything negative, because then you're denying the you're denying the wide range of feelings that as human beings we're supposed to have. You're supposed to be angry, you're supposed to be sad, you're heartbroken, disappointed, like, you're supposed to feel the spectrum of feelings, and that's absolutely okay. And I think I've been better with my anxiety. Better with, you know, depression, once I stopped fighting the feelings that were coming to me. So when I felt like a loser and disappointed and I wasn't ready, I let that demon side of me for a bit, didn't fight it off, didn't talk to anybody else. I allowed it to be there. And then when I was done with that feeling I was done. I don't, I don't fight it. I just, you know, go with it. And I'll even tell my husband, I'm having a bad day today. I really don't want to talk. I want to watch mindless TV. Um, I avoid certain people that try to fix it and tell me like, No, no, no, you're better than that. You're so good. You can do this. Because sometimes that makes me feel worse. Because Wait a second, I don't feel like I'm better than that. And I can do this and I'm in that space right now. So I just, I'm in that moment, whatever. I mean, if it's more than 24 hours or two days, then I you know, that's not healthy. But if think a few minutes of that is is okay with me. If it gets worse, I'm like really heated up and I can feel like my heart racing and like a little heated in my body. I go to the gym, and I work it out. And I'm not like a hardcore workout type of person, but it feels good to sweat it out. I go on a walk. I watch mindless TV. I have so many books right next to my reading chair. I take one of my books I'm right now. I'm because I open like a million bucks. And sometimes I read them all that.
Allegra Sinclair 49:28
Readers do that we're reading more than one book at a time. It's usually like nine or 10.
Ana Lydia Monaco 49:34
I started with this. My bookcase or the books I'm currently reading and now it's like oh
Ana Lydia Monaco 49:47
sometimes I'll do mindless social media. I mean you have to be really smart about that because you have to clean it up. And I did a lot of the cleaning up on on social media A while ago, not because I hated somebody But because I needed it to be a safer space for me. And it's not that, you know, I don't, I want to tune out what is happening, but I want to see it, when I'm in the right headspace to do it and not be reactive to the world. There's all these like little signs, so you know that you're on the right on the right on the right track to accomplish what it is that you want to accomplish. And I think one of the most important things is I keep reminding myself, it's a marathon, it's not a sprint. Everybody's gonna accomplish what they're going to accomplish in the right timeline.
Allegra Sinclair 50:35
So I think what I heard was, how you manage setbacks and the emotions that go along with that are you let yourself feel them, you don't run away from them. You let yourself experience them. You don't let it go on too long, though, to the point where it's damaging. But you let yourself feel them. You absolutely plug into self care. And that looks different for all of us. For you. It looks like reading and you called it mindless TV. I'm really tempted. But I don't want to get too far off track to figure out what are you watching?
Ana Lydia Monaco 51:09
You focus. And then there's an let me let me clarify that too. There's mindless TV. That's the TV that you can watch. And you don't need to focus on it. It could just play. And then there's the TV, that you're like, Oh my god, this is so good. I can't do anything else for the next three or four hours but watch.
Ana Lydia Monaco 51:32
Just missed that moment when you know this happened. So there's mindless TV. And then there's like getting engagement TV because we are living in like the golden era, the diamond era of TV. I mean, there's so much good TV, we get to have a completely different podcast just on TV.
Allegra Sinclair 51:53
Absolutely. I did a podcast several weeks back, gosh, it could have been a month or so ago now. But I was talking about how you change the content that you expose yourself to your life will change. And I was talking in that time just about good podcasts to listen to. But yes, I could do that for television as well. Or film. Now that you know that I want to make sure that I want to make sure I grab those. So you absolutely let the feelings come. You focus in on self care. But the other thing was the third thing that I thought was truly mentioned it was and then you connect back to what it is that you're working on, like what your big goal is, and then you re energize your belief that that thing is coming. And then it's worth it.
Ana Lydia Monaco 52:36
Allegra Sinclair 52:38
Those weren't your words, but that's what I meant.
Ana Lydia Monaco 52:41
And that's and that's literally it, you've got to remember what the big picture, the big story, the big goal that you're working on, like for me is literally I went back to school, not just because I love film, and this is what I want to do, although I do is that it's much bigger than me, it's the story of film and what it does for society and what it does for a culture, and how I can put in my own two cents to impact not just current into the people that live now, but future generations with what I create, and produce and write. I mean, that's huge. That's, that's bigger than me. And I want to be a part of that. So many times people are like, Oh, I want to make a film because I want to make, you know, make money and I want to be the next Spielberg and make, you know, jobs. And they just like super, super tactical. And some people you know, they make a career out of it. And we all know who those people are. And then there's people that create things that are much, much bigger that influence a culture they influence, like the way we see society, and how society moves and changes and just does these magical things with like cameras and, and images and acting and words and you're like, Oh my God, this this is art. This is you. I want to be part of art. I want to create art. And I want people to when they see my work, they they look at it a second time or a third time and then they see a different layer in a third layer and like oh my god, this is awesome.
Allegra Sinclair 54:17
so how can I see one of your films?I think I deserve an award for patience. Because I wasn't my usual I wasn't my usual New Jersey stuff like hey, I've asked for this twice but I didn't do that right?
Ana Lydia Monaco 54:35
I'm trying to be the non-LA filmmaker person that sends everybody their script or sends everybody their film like please watch
Ana Lydia Monaco 54:47
My film was recently acquired by Shorts TV, so it will Oh yeah, my shirt filming Firebase congratulations you. So it is going to be broadcast on shorts TV on DirecTV and on their app, etc. so other people will be able to see it.
Ana Lydia Monaco 55:11
And I, you know, produced and wrote and directed. You know, this is not the first I did several, I can't wait. I'm so excited. I thought you had seen it. craziness, I don't believe so you can see up but I'm working on an art house dance film and actually sent out the first rough cut to a few people. And I've been getting like really good feedback. So I'm trying to finalize that one. I have a short that I'm meeting with the potential lead actress actually on Thursday, to discuss her role. And Lola, which is a short, that deals with medical and plus size bias. So it's pretty, it's pretty deep, I can send you the script, so you can read it. And I've gotten, that's the one that won at the wahaca Film Fest. It was a finalist. And then it won in another film festival. And I haven't even produced it yet. So not just award winning public relations, award winning, award winning filmmaker.
Allegra Sinclair 56:32
Again, you would not brag on yourself, but I just have to go ahead and say that. And I'm going to ask a completely unfair question. What's your favorite film?
Ana Lydia Monaco 56:40
Oh my god, it's so unfair. I know it's unfair.
Allegra Sinclair 56:45
o let me make it even more unfair. So I wouldn't know your favorite film of all time. And your favorite? Uh huh. Wow. Don't wait, wait, wait, cuz you're gonna be really mad. I want to know your favorite film of all time and your favorite film of the last five.
Ana Lydia Monaco 57:07
I would I've been telling people over and over and over, because I'm a geek. And you know, this, I'm I admit to being a geek geek meant to being a nerd. I've watched films, as long as I've been alive. Black and White International. Subtitles, no subtitles, I watched them all. I really enjoy cinema. And the one film that absolutely changed my life. And I was like, This is what I want to do. Is the Bicycle Thief, by the seat them. It's an attack, okay? And I always say yes. And I always tell filmmakers, if you're a filmmaker, and you haven't seen a Bicycle Thief, I hate you. You need to see. Absolutely. Life Changing black and white, late 40s, the most one of the most beautifully shot films of the time for several reasons. A lot of people watch cinema now. And they think Oh, we've been able to carry cameras in our hands. For always, and that wasn't always the case. And this is one of the first films, I think it was the first film where the camera was actually taken out of the studio, out of you know, the stage and was out in public and used real people as actors. And it's a type of acting that I like, where it's not like overdramatize and theatrical. Which a lot of people like, but I like the more natural type of acting where it's really interesting.
Allegra Sinclair 58:37
I saw it a very long time ago but it was very nuanced. And because of that it was so it drew me in more than the I won't say over produced but then the highly produced die.
Ana Lydia Monaco 58:48
Right. And there's a space for that too. You know, we all people like Gone with the Wind and we all know when she's when she's never seen...
Allegra Sinclair 58:56
I've never seen Gone with The Wind.
Ana Lydia Monaco 58:58
Oh, I understand why.
Allegra Sinclair 59:03
I don't think my people enjoyed that movie.
Ana Lydia Monaco 59:05
Its like the documentary that Ava DuVernay about did about the Central Park Five. I saw like the first 15-20 minutes like, and then I'm like, I can't see this. This is too much. That was me I like so I couldn't even and I checked in with not my black girlfriends. But my black guy friends. And I checked in with them more during you know, the heightened period of it's out and everybody seen it. And it was just a very hard time for a lot of people. Just like in your soul. It was like how did we allow this to happen? And it got to the point where my husband and you know he's white your audience doesn't. My husband is white and he's from Chicago and he's always like so removed from everything. Cuz he lived like a very privileged life, and then he met me and I'm not making my own nice little corporate speak. I'm like, that's wrong.
Ana Lydia Monaco 1:00:18
He's starting, you know, starting to have like a broader awareness of the world. So when we saw when they see us, he literally had to put the movie on pause, to pretend to go to the bathroom to pretend to grab a glass of water, because it was and like, the last to disturb disturbing, and then by the last two episodes were which were harder, he was literally crying.
Allegra Sinclair 1:00:46
When you started talking about films, your whole voice changed, your whole energy changed, your voice changed everything in you. magically Did you feel that I was sharp. It was such sharp contrast to when you're talking about corporate stuff. And we did some really cool stuff, with Trix and Betty Crocker and all the other brands, right, but I'm just saying that, and you had I mean, amazing career award winning all that good stuff like so outside looking in huge success, but completely different tone of voice that maybe that's just because that was longer ago. Or maybe it's because now you are totally in your lane. And it feels completely different.
Ana Lydia Monaco 1:01:24
It's probably because I'm in my lane. I mean, I, I really silenced my voice for a very, very long time to make others feel comfortable.
Allegra Sinclair 1:01:35
Whoo, girl. That's a whole podcast in and of itself.
Ana Lydia Monaco 1:01:38
A lot of people never appreciated or understood my fascination with film and how it was shot and how people were talking. writing stories. I mean, my dad would knock on my door when I lived at home and say, nobody's gonna pay you for writing.
Allegra Sinclair 1:02:01
Was that in response to a question or he would just suddenly feel compelled to share?
Ana Lydia Monaco 1:02:04
He suddenly feel compelled to share. He's a Latino, older male, God rest his soul. And that is, you know, the way males of a certain age are Latino males stereotypically spoken are they will share their opinion whether you want to hear it or not.
Allegra Sinclair 1:02:21
I just wondered.
Ana Lydia Monaco 1:02:25
He'd suddenly knock on my door, go in and, and be like, you know, nobody's gonna pay you for writing go to bed. Like it's not because I would stay up writing on on a Little Mac computer or whatever. And
Allegra Sinclair 1:02:38
If you had one piece of advice to give the listener about conquering fear, to make a big career pivot, what would that advice be?
Ana Lydia Monaco 1:02:49
Ooh, that's a big, tall
Allegra Sinclair 1:02:51
Ana Lydia Monaco 1:02:54
Oh, girl, I would say something super hard.
Ana Lydia Monaco 1:03:03
I think like I told you before, you can't fight fear. You got to, you got to accept the fear when it happens. And then give yourself a timeline of like, how long will you allow this fear to live within you? Before you get back on track to remember why you're doing whatever it is that you're focusing on? Why you are changing careers, why you're moving jobs, why you want to focus on what you've always been passionate about. And, you know, obviously, you got to take baby steps, you got to remember that it's a marathon, it's not a sprint, and that everybody's timeline is going to be different thing, your timeline.
Allegra Sinclair 1:03:46
That was like the perfect summation for the conversation. I'm not going to ruin it by trying to add, I'm just going to say thank you so much for coming today. And pouring all this juicy goodness into my audience. If they want to find out more about you and your work or just connect to your energy. What's the best way for them to do
Ana Lydia Monaco 1:04:07
I have a website it's Anna Lydia, Monaco productions. And you can find me on all social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, under Anna Lydia Monaco. And my email is Analydia [email protected] I'm always open to talking to other women, especially women that want to get into the creative industry or want to work with me or want to do something. I'm always looking to build.
Allegra Sinclair 1:04:39
Hey, thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the podcast. If you did, please share it with a friend and let them know how they can subscribe so they won't miss a single episode. I hope you have a powerful week and I'll catch you next time.
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