Hollywood: a place hidden behind the hills, the lines are drawn by modern mythology and fairytale-like dreams of fame. Buried under the legends of the Chateau Marmont, Hollywood is a part of Los Angeles that glitters. It even glitters in the darkest of nights, or on one of those rare, grey, rainy days. That’s the fantasy of Hollywood, the reason why even after all these years, so many people feel magnetised to it. It is based on an illusion of a modern paradise, a place where all your dreams may come true if you only happen to work hard for them. “I think that is a dream that people buy into. It’s not necessarily accurate”, says native Los Angelino and NFT creator Jeremy Fall. “They are chasing something that does not necessarily exist. It exists like face value, but it does not exist on an emotional or on a satisfactory level.”
Jeremy Fall was born and raised in Los Angeles. It’s his home, he tells me. Yet still, even though he lives and breathes through the warm air of the sunny state, he gets often mistaken to be a New Yorker. People tend to be shocked when they hear that he is from LA. But his LA, a cultural melting pot he calls it, is very different from the Los Angeles outsider dreams of. It’s about having the best food in Korea Town, not profiling himself over others. This side of LA, the constant clout chasing, the constant competition to climb the ladder higher than the day before does exist, he admits.
“I saw all sides of LA: the starving artists, the friends of LA, hanging out in Hollywood’s studios with 20 other people chasing their dreams, or trying to create our own reality TV show.”, he says. This side of LA, the one that seems so shiny one could easily slip and fall on it, is very real. “For me, the toxicity is very real and very true. I think a lot of people get into this toxicity because they get sucked into the idea of fame”. Fall himself is only 32 years old but has already accomplished more than many others do in their entire lifetime. At the age of 23, he opened his first restaurant, which got him featured in Vogue Japan. He was all over the headlines, and that’s where his burden, the imposter syndrome kicked in: “I was internationally known, but I still couldn’t pay my rent. I was living on a blow-up air mattress”.
According to various definitions on the internet, imposter syndrome stands for the constant state of doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It’s the opposite of what Anna Delvey felt in Inventing Anna. Funnily enough, it disproportionately affects high-achieving people who find it beyond difficult to accept their accomplishments. It’s a question of deserving or the question of constant questioning.
Mental health is a market that has been booming in the last few years. Out of the blue, new online counselling services appear every day and telling someone that you suffer from struggles has become as normal as riding a bus. We constantly compare ourselves on the internet, we breathe the constant air of exposure to greener grass. Anxiety does not seem to be a rare mental illness anymore; it seems like a character trait the digital age has implanted into our brains. For capitalism, mental illness is what Maria Grazia Chiuri is for Dior – a money maker.
Recently, celebrities are using their platform to raise awareness, to make the world a better place by trying to educate their army of followers, but are NFT’s the way to do it? Isn’t that just another way of milking a social issue for the sake of capitalism? “I don’t think we can look at it as a capitalisation of mental illness. I think the ethos needs to be cohesive”, says Fall, “For example, with charity, you shouldn’t just use it as a marketing tool. It needs to be authentic.”
Taking Fall’s upcoming NFT project Photosynthesis as an example, giving to mental health charities was a given, not an option. But looking at the bigger picture of the project, which is based on connecting people, the donation acts more like the cherry on top, rather than the main act. In times of crisis, we need to accept, that as individuals, we cannot shop our way out of every issue. “You need to be able to create a movement, a cheque won’t solve the problem. For me, we are building love around these flowers [in photosynthesis] and we are bringing people together. The whole message of it is to give love and be there for each other”, he says.
An NFT may help to raise awareness or to move the motion in the right direction, but overcoming the cloud of imposter syndrome, daunting over one’s head is a task the individual has to do by themselves. Over the years, Fall has accepted himself, and the fact that the syndrome is part of him. Now he can go to sleep, knowing that at least he is authentically himself, he states. “Even if I die without success, even if I die unsatisfied, it does not mean that I have to die unhappy”, he tells me. “And I have made peace with that. As long as I am happy, I can be okay with being unsatisfied”, he continues. In the end, he flipped his script- he is authentically himself now, not trying to be someone else. And with that, imposter syndrome becomes smaller each and every day. The power lies in spreading awareness and self-acceptance from within.
This feature was taken from our special bespoke issue with Jeremy Fall, available below now…