“Network, network, network.” That’s what you get told to do to make it in the entertainment business. But networking is not just meeting someone and saying, “Hire me.” That’s what you’re not supposed to do. Ericka Black currently stars in the Mad Circus Comedy YouTube channel show, Being Awesome with Karen.
Her participation in this show has led to people stopping Ericka on the street and yelling “Karen.” She also achieved finalist status in the Miss Jetset contest and has landed a job as a brand ambassador for Breezy Swimwear.
How did she get here? That’s a networking story.
Me and Ericka
For ten years, I’ve been writing about film. This led me to attend the Austin Revolution Film Festival (ARFF) in 2017, where I met filmmakers Dallas Gibson and his wife Andrea Gibson.
The following year, back at ARFF, I grabbed a seat for the awards ceremony. While waiting for the ceremony to begin, the gentleman seated next to me said, “Hey, Leo, remember us?” It was Dallas and Andrea.
They mentioned that they were going to do a proof-of-concept video for their screenplay Black Sheep. It tells the story of an Iraqi combat veteran, suffering from PTSD, who finds himself in the middle of a battle between law enforcement and an international crime organization. It sounded like an intriguing project and I volunteered to do behind-the-scenes photography, which I had done for several other films.
Skip forward to November 2018. On the set of Black Sheep, I met Ericka.
And how did Ericka end up on that set?
I asked her if she had always wanted to be an actress.
She recalled, “When I was a little kid, I used to stand in front of the mirror and pretend I was in a movie. My sister and I used to play that we were actresses, but it was only about four years ago that I began to think about it seriously.”
So, how did she meet the Gibsons?
“I auditioned for a commercial. I didn’t get it, but the lady running it said she really liked my voice. A while later, while on a date with a gentleman named James, I told him about the commercial. He said he and a friend were starting an acting class.
“I went to the class and there I met husband-and-wife acting team Edgar Arreola (2 Guns, Amaraica) and Josey Arreola. This networking led to a role in Amaraica.”
She continued, “At the acting class I also met Dallas and Andrea. They told me about Black Sheep. During that filming, I met Rayden Walker who wrote and directed my next film, The 7th.”
The Third Step
During the lockdown of 2020, I connected with several other filmmakers online. They shared what sounded like a fun project. We envisioned doing a series of comedy skits, initially over Zoom. Eventually. the goal is to combine the best of these with some new material into a feature film in the style of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
We needed more actors.
I thought about the talented people I had worked with on Black Sheep and several other projects. I sent out an invitation and Ericka responded. We put her in a satire of the “Karen” internet meme. It became our most popular skit and we turned it into a series.
Now she’s on her way to becoming famous and that’s how networking works.
I asked Ericka if there was anything she’d like to add?
She smiled. “The more people you meet, the more people you meet.”
You can watch Karen, I mean Ericka Black, in the video below.