I started Lama-Leah when I was in high school, but I didn’t truly invest in it until the fall after I graduated. I was very lost in that season. My post-graduation plans fell through, and I didn’t know where I belonged, and to be honest I still don’t.
Within that time period, I was casually dated. I wasn’t looking for anything serious as I knew I had a lot of youth left in me and I was not ready to settle down anytime soon. You may criticize me for not intentionally dating, but part of me wanted someone to have companionship with even if it was just for a couple of hours over dinner. I wasn’t opposed to a long-lasting relationship, but I wasn’t exactly looking for that.
Before I knew it, I randomly had a slew of Messianic men in their mid-late 20s began pursuing me (which was the dream as a little girl). They gave me their numbers, we went for a healthy Mediterranean lunch or dinner. We would talk about the Torah, the New Testament, and Kosher laws. Typically, by the end of the date, they would tell me that had a fun time but I was too young for them.
It went a tad different with one of the men I went walking with. We went on one official date, talked in between and on the second date proposed. We exchanged numbers around Purim, wanted to be married by the High Holy Days, and be expecting ASAP after that. My initial gut reaction was to run, and I did.
Well, I ran back and forth. I ran between chasing getting published and running towards him. We were friends. We dated. We did Torah together. I followed him Torah. I was attracted to him. I tried to see myself marrying him, but I saw myself pursuing a writing career over getting married at 18.
As the months passed, I was getting more and more, “Yes” emails (I was sending out a hundred cold emails and pitches per day). I was finally finding direction but still felt that something was missing. I felt God was leading me towards the entertainment industry and I reluctantly started going to auditions. Oddly enough, I started booking things (but never accepting anything because I was not confident in my abilities). It was a strange time where things were finally starting to come together.
As the months went by, I was growing and they were staying complacent. One afternoon, I called him while packing for a shoot and things ended. I was nervous, talking his ear off and made the comment about being Tyra one day (which was my obsession back then).
“Leah you can’t be Tyra”
“Tyra is tall and beautiful and that’s not you”
“Well Tyra is a fashion model and I am a classic commercial model but that doesn’t mean I can’t build the empire that she has”
“Leah you just can’t do that”
“Well watch me then”
I was livid. I wondered why I spent so much energy chasing someone who didn’t believe in me. As time has passed, I realized that I can’t be mad at him because that was the environment he was raised in and was still a part of. A culture where the women’s sole purpose is to be a mother and housekeeper. One where the wife is discouraged to work outside of the home and have dreams. I am grateful to God every day that I discovered that before anything became serious with him because my life would be incredibly different today. I wouldn’t have met anyone who I talk to on a regular basis if it wasn’t for photoshoots.
I worked even harder after that. And started the long journey of finding an agent that would even email me back. I eventually found one, and within a year and a half, I had been signed with three different talent agencies.
Through work, I found someone special to do life with. Instead of telling me I couldn’t achieve my dreams, my Mister has taken digis at midnight when I have felt an urge to submit to agencies that I have no chance of ever being looked at. Someone who wrote in a part for me when helping a friend write a script for a short film, constantly styling me, and will leave me alone when I passionately writing a draft.
Our family is not “traditional” but it works for us. We have differing views/ideas on religion, politics, and which way the toilet paper roll goes. There’s an age difference which means we disagree on if 90s media or 2000s media is better (its 2000s). We are both feminist, and LBGTQ+ affirming. We may have disagreements but we rarely fight and I’ve never seen him mad. We have vegan dinner parties and most who come over are in the creative/entertainment field.
I can’t describe how empowering it is to be with someone who not only believes in me but helps me grow in the profession I desire to be in, and loves me unconditionally. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s beautiful and I wouldn’t choose a different life.
Thank goodness I did not get married.