Ex-homeless actors launch inspiring new business to help others

Riji, Marcus and Melween

We all associate Los Angeles with the glamour of the film and TV industry. But there is another side to LA, where people slip through the cracks in the glossy facade and face homelessness and deprivation.

As we all know, an actor’s life is never an easy one. But imagine how much more difficult it becomes when your only home is your car. This was the case for Riji Raja, a young woman living in her car for two years – along with her husband and their dog.

Originally from Dallas, Riji and husband Melween arrived in Los Angeles in 2016 full of hopes and dreams for their acting careers. Hitting a streak of bad luck compounded money issues and before they knew it, they had no home, which just demonstrates so well that problems can happen to people no matter where in the world they are or what their circumstances are. Pride, shame and guilt stirred up deep and dark emotions as the couple fought to claw their way back to better times, taking its toll on their mental health along the way. It seems hard to believe that around 15,000 people are living homeless in the greater LA area alone, three quarters of those with significant mental health issues.

Thankfully now their fortunes have improved, Riji and family now have a place to live again.

Realising that so many people can fall into this homelessness trap so easily, they decided to create a business together which worked to make life better for others in a number of ways.

Their business is called Affirmation Darling. The core product is a set of motivational and inspirational cards. The difference with these cards is in their title – AffirmActions. The cards have positive, motivating affirmations on one side, and actions to support the affirmation on the other. The idea comes out of their own situation – Riji had often used positive affirmations to help her improve her state of mind and bolster her resilience. However, as the affirmations she had used had no reinforcement, their power simply drained away, leaving her feeling back at square one. Her idea was to produce a series of her own positive and motivating affirmations, which are then backed up by ideas for actions to reinforce the suggestions which therefore immediately gives purchasers guidance as to how to put the ideas into action.

Originally designed as a mood booster for actors going through the gruelling and soul-destroying process of auditioning – something that Riji and Melween had encountered almost daily, the idea evolved into a business which has been crowdfunded (and I am proud to have supported them in my own small way in this), and the team have now set up their own website.

Not only are the cards useful positive inspiration for actors, they work for anyone looking for a mind boost. Which in these pandemic times, is the majority of us!

But that’s not the only way AffirmationDarling aims to help. With every purchase of a deck of AffirmAction cards, the company donates another pack to a young adult experiencing homelessness and/or mental health crisis.

What a great couple, and such a great business idea. Please take a look at their site, www.affirmationdarling.com And if you have budding artists, actors or other creatives in your family, a pack of AffirmActions is a great gift to boost their morale at difficult times, like waiting for an audition, when perhaps you can’t be there for them.

Let’s all wish Riji, Melween and little Marcus well!

2 Replies to “Ex-homeless actors launch inspiring new business to help others”

  1. thank you for featuring Riji and Melween’s story on your blog. I love Unrestricted Theatre because of the enormous attention to detail in all your reports but this particular story really spoke to me as I know them both to be so special and deserving of the good things in life.

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