In our latest edition of this Spotlight series, we simply cannot wait to introduce you to the effervescent Sam Simone. An NYC-based actress and performer, who uses both the art she creates and the story she’s living out to make this world a brighter place, Sam is the definition of resilient—without taking herself too seriously in the process.
Get ready for a conversation filled to the brim with inspiration as we chat with her on a special episode of The SunDaze Journey Podcast (and while you’re at it, be sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts). Then stick around for even more positive gems from Sam Simone in the Q&A below. We hope you love her refreshing perspective just as much as we do!
The SunDaze Journey: These last couple of years have been stressful to say the least. What are a few practices that you’ve found to be restorative and beneficial for your own mental, emotional and physical well-being in the midst of these circumstances?
Sam Simone: In order to stay sane over these past two years I’ve been doing a lot of exercise. I am a member of the Daily Burn fitness community and love doing their 30-minute workouts to make sure I carve out time for myself each day. I also have weekly therapy sessions to talk about what is causing me anxiety. Also, my boyfriend and I rescued a puppy last year, so having him to care for has been a huge distraction from any awful circumstances in the world. That unconditional love and responsibility for something outside myself is so grounding.
TSJ: What is the single most powerful and influential piece of advice that has ever been shared with you, either personally or professionally? Who did this advice come from, and how has it changed or impacted your life?
SS: This question is easy! My grandpa unfortunately passed away about a year ago now, but before he died, we were in the process of writing a book on some of his stories and memories. He was a successful professional musician who played at some of New York’s finest clubs with famous names in the business. I asked him one day, “How did you stay so sane in this career, being an artist and not comparing yourself to other people’s success?” My grandfather replied, “I just trusted that I was a little bit talented and never took myself too seriously.” That has since become my mantra before any audition, or if I second guess myself in any area of life. My grandfather also stressed the importance of family connections and being present for each moment. These are lessons I still carry around with me daily!
TSJ: Based on your own lived experience, what is one particular lesson or insight that you would pass on to someone who is coming up behind you?
SS: The main piece of advice I would give to someone is learn to say “No.” As an artist, I find myself responding with a “Yes” to just about any performance opportunity, but much of the time, these opportunities don’t fulfill ANY of the four criteria I was taught to look for in grad school. An acting job should either fulfill: a passion project, a networking opportunity, a financial boost, or a wonderful story to tell. But all too often, I find myself saying “Yes” to roles or jobs that don’t align with any of those. Then, I end up not even enjoying the work or the project—all because I was afraid to say “No” and disappoint someone else. So now, I am learning to say “No” to whatever doesn’t serve my soul or advance my career.
TSJ: Are there any books you’re reading, podcasts you’re listening to, or leaders you’re following that are instrumental in your personal growth at the moment?
SS: I am currently in the middle of reading Live Your Life by Amanda Kloots, which is all about her husband and fellow “Blue Bloods” star Nick Cordero. I had the pleasure of working with Nick, and sadly, he passed away due to COVID this year. He fought long and hard, and Amanda remained so strong in the midst of it all. Reading this book is a reminder that I can walk through any circumstance with grace, light and positivity—even in the darkest of situations. The podcasts I listen to are mostly true crime, so less about growth and more for entertainment. As far as leaders, I look to people in my own life, rather than well-known celebrities. I admire my father, who dealt with so much change this year alone with such thoughtfulness and strength. I admire my sister, who has come so far despite all of life’s curveballs. I admire my mother, who is never hesitant to lend an ear and does whatever she can for her family. And I admire my partner, who has been so selfless to keep me safe these past two years.
TSJ: What has embodying the experiences, choices and perspectives of other characters as a performer taught you about self-awareness in your own skin?
SS: I love this question. I believe that playing other characters has made me an empathetic person. I am extremely aware of how others are feeling, and I can sense whenever something is not as it should be. Some of my favorite shows to work on are based on a real event such as “The Laramie Project,” for instance. Through that experience, I learned all about how different people view the same tragic circumstance with different eyes and hearts.
TSJ: Do you find it necessary to relax, unplug or decompress in the evening after a full, active day on the job? And if so, what’s your favorite method of relaxation?
SS: After a stressful workday, I 100 percent always unplug. I am trying to make it a rule not to work after 9 PM, but the acting industry doesn’t always allow for that. My favorite way to unwind is a cup of tea and some quality TV after a warm shower.
TSJ: If you could travel anywhere on earth (taking COVID safety measures into account, of course!), where would you choose to visit and why? Or if you’ve been to this place already, what made it such a meaningful destination?
SS: Following COVID safety I would love to travel to multiple different places: Egypt and Norway since they’re both on my bucket list, Switzerland to visit my best friend who lives there, and Korea and Japan with my other best friend since that trip was cancelled in 2020!
TSJ: Our society places a high premium on resilience, but this trait is often misunderstood or over-simplified to mean toughness at all costs. What is your definition of resilience, and how do you work to maintain it, regardless of the circumstances?
SS: This is also a fantastic question. My definition of resilience comes from a quote my sister first introduced me to: “Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I believe resilience is overcoming hardship or difficulty, while still choosing to honor the grief, pain and struggle. I believe that resilience comes from knowing what we can change and what we cannot. In this life, we have so many choices, so resilience to me feels like owning those choices and navigating any downsides that occur in the process.
TSJ: We’re all about celebrating new steps in the journey on this platform. So is there any major milestone, career development or passion project you have in the works that you’re excited about and want to share?
SS: Yes! I will be filming my TV pilot this December titled “You Follow Me,” which is all about the realities of daily life with an invisible illness. I also have my first leading role in a feature film “Townhouse Confidential,” coming out in February 2022. A personal goal of mine is financial stability and working just one day job, which I am extremely close to achieving!
TSJ: Finally, what are three adjectives that you would use to describe yourself and the path you have walked to become who you are right now?
SS: Courageous, ambitious, fighter.
Connect with Sam Simone’s work at SamanthaNicoleSimone.com where you can learn more about her upcoming projects, as well as the TV pilot she is currently developing. You can also follow along on social media via Facebook and Instagram.
*Some answers were edited for length or clarity.*