Delusions of Grandeur


In 24 hours I will leave Los Angeles – the place I thought I would live out the rest of my days.

I thought I would stay in LA forever – it’s not the best place to buy an affordable home, or find a good public education, or breathe quality air…

But it’s where I was going to “make my mark”.

You see, before I became a mom six years ago, I was an actress.

No, really.

I was an actual working actress (under a different name, google fiends).

After getting my BFA and being classically trained, I moved to LA by way of Chicago and well… I was lucky.  I know dozens of extremely talented actors who pounded the pavement in Los Angeles for years and never got an agent… or a television gig… or a legit manager.

That wasn’t the case for me.  I lucked out.  I did a movie with some fairly famous people that never made it to theaters.  It was however seen by an influential manager who took an interest in me.  She got me into meetings at the big studios within six months of me moving to the West Coast.  I did well.  I did some Indie flicks.  I did guest spots on network shows.  I was getting called in to see producers and read for series regular roles.  I shared audition waiting rooms with Stana Katic… and Lucy Liu ended up with one of the parts I read for.

Although theatre was my first love, the television and film world was incredibly enticing… and contrary to popular belief, I found it to be slightly more about talent and craftsmanship than it was about looks.

I loved it.

I wanted it.

I’ve always been a story teller – that’s why I fell in love with acting so young.

I wanted to tell stories that would prod that place in all of us where humanity rests.

I wanted to tell stories that would wet people’s faces with laughter.

I wanted to tell stories that would last forever.

I’m not going to lie – I also wanted the notoriety.

I wanted to be loved and adored, but I also wanted the notoriety because with it comes the responsibility and opportunity to make a difference…

a big difference.

I wanted to make people think.

I wanted to make people feel.

I wanted to help those that needed it.

I wanted to back humanitarian causes.

I wanted to inspire.

I wanted it all…

and then I got pregnant.

My husband and I planned to try and start a family as soon as we were married.  I just don’t think either of us thought we’d be so good at it.  Four months into my honeymoon baby pregnancy, my agent and manager dumped me.  My manager was actually really sweet about it:

” As a mom myself, I know how hard it is to try and focus on something other than your baby right after you give birth… and I don’t have the time to waste waiting for you to come back.  You’re going to be a wonderful mother.  Perhaps down the road, when you’ve broken your way back in and gotten some more credits under your belt, we’ll work together again.”

She was right.  I barely left the house the first six months after my son was born.  A year later I tried going on commercial auditions, but with no child care, family, or friends to help – I ended up dragging my baby boy along.  That didn’t work for either of us.

So my husband and I made a plan.  We were going to have another baby and I was going to focus on the kids until our youngest was ready for preschool.  Then, I would enter the acting world again.  We would pay whatever we needed to pay for child care, new head shots, showcases, etc.  I just had to hold out until then.

That time would have been upon us next year…

except we’re moving tomorrow.

You see, my husband got an outstanding job offer at a top five company.  It means relocating to San Francisco.

It was a choice between his huge career advancement and my soon-to-be-career-again that is presently non-existent.

My career choice is not something that can be done anywhere in the country.  The heart of it lives here, in Los Angeles.

So I say goodbye to the one thing that has always made me happy – the one thing other than blood that flows through my veins…

the career that I always thought I would go back to…

the career that had me counting down the months ’til I could be back in it’s ruthless arms.

I say goodbye to the dozens of casting notices that appear in my inbox every week.  I’ve been deleting them for years – but never unsubscribed.

I leave the city that holds my dreams, because this move ensures college tuition for my boys…

it makes sports and music lessons possible without putting a strain on our budget…

and it’s a dream job for my husband.

My dream for his.  Practicality deems it so.

I don’t know how to give up my delusions of grandeur.

I feel like I’m supposed to leave a mark.

I feel like I’m supposed to make a difference.

But then again…

maybe I already have:


brothers holding hands




jenni chiu sig




26 responses to “Delusions of Grandeur”

  1. Jessica says:

    You have absolutely left a mark. I get this, though. Totally. My husband’s career comes first always and sometimes that makes me a little sad. I know it’s what is ultimately best for “us” even if not for “me”.

  2. Debi says:


    My dear sweet friend, maybe you are not giving up your dream. Maybe your dream is evolving. SUrely there are theaters in San Francisco where you can take the stage and play to an audience but I know, for a FACT, that you have made a mark on the thousands of women and men who read your blog and watch your youtube channel.

    Your stories have wet my face with tears and laughter. Your heart and soul speaks across the page. You are still doing that and you can always do that. You can make a difference with your venue. Sure, acting in movies and tv may have brought notoriety and fame but what you do on your blog MAKES A DIFFERENCE. YOu are able to share the real stories that mean something and maybe change someone else’s life.

    This move is great for your family and I can’t help that this is just the beginning for something GREAT for you as well. You will be less stressed, more comfortable and you will find a new approach to your dream; maybe it’s a new dream, maybe it’s the old one with a new plan. Either way, you are an amazing wife, mother, friend and writers/youtube video making women I know and I’d take you over any celebrity any day. Besides, I’m pretty sure little ole Jenni Chiu the blogger/vlogger sensation had some fan girls and lots of adoration in her own right.
    P.S. You will always be a superstar to us, MommyNaniBooBoo! XOXO

  3. Shell says:

    You are making a mark. Yes, it’s a totally different way than what you thought you’d be doing, but still- it’s a great life. xo

  4. I mean, who needs Hollywood when you have YouTube? And you REALLY have YouTube, girl.

  5. It is so hard to leave these kind of dreams behind. I left mine in DC to move to Baltimore to be with my husband. I told him and myself that I would go back to DC for work when our son started kindergarten this year, but it would mean I would leave before he wakes every day and come home well after he’s asleep. And, I can’t trade life with him…I’ve been on the look out for a new dream or a different dream for some time now. Hopefully this is the year I’ll figure out how to create a new passion here or some way to make the old life fit.

    Sending you good vibes…

  6. Well, you know, there are theaters in San Francisco…..

    • Jenni Chiu says:

      True – California Shakespeare is there (one of my faves). However, with a newly diagnosed panic disorder, live theatre feels presently not in the cards. Film sets always feel so secure, you can cut if needed, there’s usually security, etc,
      Only time will tell. I am hopeful.

  7. Katie says:

    I wish I had words of encouragement for you that haven’t already been said, but you know? It is Ok to mourn. If we didn’t have kids, I would be through a PhD program by now and possibly teaching in a university. But we do have kids. And now my husband is pursuing his dream of owning a company.

    So my dream is…not happening. Not now. And maybe not ever. And it sucks.

    But I wouldn’t change it either.

  8. I’ve built my life around my hubbie’s career these last 5 years, which for us included a move the country, where I may be the only half-Asian for miles. I just wrote a post about making room and letting go, and maybe that applies here too. Maybe it doesn’t. Either way, I’m better for reading this.

    Fare thee well.

  9. Kelly says:

    I can relate. There was a day when I said, “Okay, now I figure out if there’s anything else I can do.” It was all I had known since I was 6. There are, it turns out, other things I’m good at. And I’ll never love them; not even close.

  10. Amanda says:

    Things are changing, new doors are opening, butI don’t think that it has to mean that doors are closing forever.

    Either way, I cannot imagine that you haven’t made a mark or have more indelible marks to add to this world.

  11. Oh Jenni – Beautiful. And you’ve made a HUGE mark. xo

  12. Tracey says:

    I’m sorry it’s not going to be what you thought, but there will definitely be more acting in your future. You will find the way, if you want it bad enough. THEATER time, for sure to kick it back in gear. And the world is changing so quickly… who knows what the next craze will be online?

    Best of luck for a smooth move.

  13. Alison says:

    Oh Jenni. You are making a difference. You have made your mark. Maybe not in the ways you originally envisioned – but you most certainly have.

    May SF be good to you. My brother lives there, and I have cousins there too. It’s a place of good people! (and dream jobs)

  14. Bittersweet but exciting too! Love San Fran and it is an easier place to raise kids than LA from all I’ve heard. I have a cousin who loves it & raised her 2 kids there. It’s the only place I’d consider living besides Chicago.

    You can still do commercial work & films shoot in SF and if they really want you, they’ll fly you to LA… it’s not THAT far. We’re half a continent away and they still fly Dug to LA for shoots!! I hear ya though. I put so much of my career on hold to parent 2 kids while Dug has traveled the world without me for the past 13 years. He’s off to the Philippines in a few weeks & just got back from Iceland a few months ago. It’s hard not to resent it as I’m dying to travel and miss it desperately. Still… wouldn’t trade my kids & my time invested in them for all the flights in the world.

  15. Heidi says:

    It’s so difficult to predict what life has in store for us. My situation isn’t exactly similar, but same idea. And when I thought I was getting to that point as you were, I got pregnant again with our third boy.
    No one can prepare us for the sacrifice it takes to be a mom. Having dreams while putting our kids first.
    Thinking of you through this transition.

  16. erin says:

    Hi! My first time to your site and wow, I love this post. And it’s totally cliché to say, and has been said here before, but you have and WILL leave a mark. Its just never what we think it will be. Fate, luck, God, whatever you want to call it, we’re not in total control.

    SF is totally awesome, and you’re making the right albeit difficult choice. You can do hard things – and you’ll come out better in the end. Best of luck!!

  17. kaye says:

    very nicely written. I can promise you that when you give up your desires for the good of others, there will be rewards!!! great rewards!

  18. Shauna says:

    GIRL. I could’ve written this story myself. LA to SF six years ago this past December for my husband’s job (but oh, how I thought I’d be “traveling back and forth for auditions”!). Except I got pregnant two weeks after we moved here. Turns out, it was only the beginning of a whole new thing–I’ve changed gears since then to a different career path, but it’s all been for the best. Not to be a creep, but I do hope you’ll get in touch when you get settled in town. I’d love to connect! Best of luck with the big move.

  19. Diane Carroll says:

    I just read this post and was moved to tears.

    Yes, you have and continue to leave a mark by being a good mother. This move doesn’t mean you have to give you your dream completely. Perhaps a different type of acting – community theater or perhaps some show that tapes in the San Fran area.

    I know it is hard the decision you have made, but you did it for your family and you are to be commended for this. However, don’t forget to do something for you – that is just for you while being a mommy. The children will grow older and not need you as much in time – they will be in school and really – time flies when they are young – they will be in college before you know it and you will still be you and still need to nurture your dreams.

    I wish you well. I would give anything to live in San Francisco!

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  21. Ilene says:

    I truly honestly – with all my heart believe – that sometimes we let go of a dream because that letting go leads us to the “bigger” dream, the “meant to be all along’ dream. And that we can make a difference doing many, many things. This piece is beyond moving.

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