An Elk Grove native has gone from a profession notorious for low pay and layoffs to one notoriously hard to break into.
And a year after leaving teaching and attending graduate school to act, alumna Keiko Elizabeth Suda will make her first television appearance on "Days of our Lives" on Aug. 15.
"My mom is like, 'You picked the two hardest professions in your life! Why did you do [that]?' " Suda, who goes by the stage name Keiko Elizabeth, said by phone.
Elizabeth graduated from Stanford and taught for five years, most recently in an Oakland continuation school. She said teachers at that school helped a student write a play about her brother, who was slain in a San Francisco drive-by shooting. The school found local actors for a production of the play.
"It was my first time seeing actors up close and personal doing their thing," Elizabeth said. "When I saw this production for the first time it was something I thought I would really like to do."
She later landed a dual role as a tree and a person of Oz in a production of the "Wizard of Oz," which she said confirmed her desire to act.
Elizabeth later studied acting at California State University, Fullerton, and now lives in Los Angeles. She's married to a man she dated in high school, whose brother is co-owner Bret Bohlmann.
The teacher-turned-actress said growing up in Elk Grove gave her a sense of caring for others.
"[That's] something that I like to keep about that experience—growing up in a small town," she said.
She's excited about her first television appearance—which she isn't allowed to talk much about—but said her late entry into acting means her entire life doesn't hinge on it.
"When you do something since you were young, a lot of your ego gets attached to what people think of your work," Elizabeth said. "[When you] do something for a long period of time you lose your curiosity about it. [I've been] engaging in the process of getting better because my ego wasn't so wrapped up in it."
Elizabeth said she hopes to work in dramatic television or on an ensemble show with more than one star.
But for now, she's not too picky. She laughed when she recalled a question her grandmother asked recently: "Are you looking for a job?"
With her new career choice, the answer to that question is: Always.