© 2017 Maria Shamkalian

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BIOGRAPHY

It all started on a warm August morning back in 2001 when I arrived to USA and breathed in the aroma of possibilities. I have always wanted to act, model and write. The only drawbacks were that I did not speak English and looked like a mix between Harry Potter and Napoleon Dynamite. Don't think that it stopped me though! Within a year of immigration I started to resemble Velma from Scooby Doo and got contacted by a talent agency which convinced me that 5.3 ft height and braces were perfect for runway and took $1,500 to help me get there. New to the field, I learned three valuable life lessons: 

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1) A row of apple boxes is not a runway

2) "Please initial here while I take your credit card" is not a good sign

3) Unicorn parking is not easy to find on the busy streets of Philadelphia

I did not give up on the industry though. It might be a tough path, but if others could do it - so could I, so I set a goal, got a Master's Degree in Education with Certification in English, Communication, Psychology and Acting, took charge of my future, and today I am a proud member of SAG-AFTRA, a and a Vice Chair of Pennsylvania Film Industry Association as  well as writer, producer, director, diversity and anti-bullying activist, and educator. I also run a food program that provides free meals to over a 1000 children a day. I feel blessed to do what I love and encourage others to go for their dreams!

Never let those less daring than you tone down your drive. Turn your dreams into action plans. Achieve and be happy!