Reality Check

The makeup artist, Michael, on the set of the movie I shot this weekend said he felt inspired. “I had no idea where I was going when I started, but I love where it ended!” (Discovery!)
It occurred to me as I was finishing up a post (which I’m taking FOREVER to update btw) that even though my positive tone about all the things I’ve accomplished is generally good and true maybe I’m doing myself and my readers a disservice by not owning up to the moments that aren’t all ‘sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows’. I have readers who’ve e-mailed me about how my story and posts have inspired them to pursue or keep pursuing their passions. I have people in my life who are so supportive and encouraged by what I’ve decided to do with my life. And, yes, it is a complete blessing because some people don’t get this type of support.

I, however, don’t want my readers to feel terrible when they have a bad experience and don’t automatically jump forward like I’m apt to do (or blog about doing). Truth is sometimes the challenges sting and stop me. I eventually get back up but but you know what? How long it takes me to bounce back depends on the bump! I think we live in a day and age where people feel forced to show only their successes because they’re afraid that any show of failure is a weakness. But life is full of failures…as it is full of victories. One cannot happen without the other. So I’m interrupting the regularly scheduled broadcast to share with you the lousy couple of weeks I’ve experienced.

I am in the thick of pre- & post-production hell.  Sometimes I’m genuinely shocked at how long the process takes to have a complete project. I know I shouldn’t be because I understand what goes into the pre- through post-production phases. Still, I have three projects in the pre-production phase and at least six projects that are in post-production limbo.

The lack of communication is astounding. I get contacted when they need me to be on avail, but otherwise there is no contact. Communication is a two-way responsibility so I do occasionally e-mail these productions once in awhile just to check in. Of course, these inquiries go unanswered. Um, okay. I know the work will happen or has happened but I guess I’d just love to have something to share. I have this sinking feeling that these productions will suddenly find legs all at the same time. Joy. 😉

I performed a scene in an agent workshop last week. It was a great experience because it was the first workshop I’ve ever performed in and the agent was both hilarious and welcoming. The scene which I had previously worked on in class went well and I able to utilize the technique I’ve been practicing at the Studio for months. I e-mailed the agent a thank you note knowing that I might not get a response. The agent did kindly respond the next day. Awesome. The e-mail response, however, was a double-edged sword.  On one hand, my normal, productive and realistic self was pleased that a) I got a response, b) the agent liked my work, and c) the agent left the door open for future communique. Very positive signs. On the other hand, the agent basically said I didn’t have the right level of experience (read: credits) to bring in for a meeting to discuss potential representation. Given the type of weeks I’ve been having to deal with, it kind of tipped me in the latter direction: disheartened.

Here I’ve been working on an update for this blog trying to focus on the positive and progressive direction of my career, and this was a reminder of how much more road I had left to travel. It wasn’t that I was unaware; my problem is usually that I’m too aware. I’m just ready to move to the next level, and I need to find a way in. I am and I’m willing to continue to put in the hard work but I’m getting to a point where I feel like I’m just not in front of the people who have access to the ‘good’ stuff. Not just in terms of visibility, but quality. This is the same week I found out a project I booked might have huge funders, but they might recast as a result of it. A project I booked wasn’t as high profile as originally anticipated. And work at the restaurant has been particularly brutal. Lots of pressure to sell in a disorganized, semi-hostile environment while feeling the physical fatigue of being on the go for at least six straight hours. I manage my expectations better than the average bear so I can usually take most of these things in stride.  This time I let myself take it all in, wallow, recover, then move on. But note, I did allow myself all these things. In addition to the professional challenges, I do have a rather complicated personal life at the moment, which I’m not addressing because I won’t let it interfere with what I need to do for my career.  I’m probably forgetting a dozen other mini-tragedies, but you get the idea. And I do want you to have a sense of it because this road isn’t the easiest one to travel.  Though that was something I accepted before transversing it, I still have my moments where it does get to me. If it gets to you, you’re not alone. And I do believe reevaluating it with a fresh perspective will show you that there is a way past it — forward. 

I still remember being on the set of a music video in NYC of a now in-demand (feature film) director. I had a featured extra part, but he was so generous. He felt compelled to keep expanding my part. This was when most of my experience was in theatre and even though I had no idea what to do (then) on a professional set, I still felt so at home. And no one knew this was my first time on a real set because it felt so natural — I felt so natural.  That feeling stayed with me while I was climbing the corporate ladder. (Kind of explains why despite being great in the corporate sphere, I didn’t feel full.) When I finally admitted to myself that there was nothing in this world that made me feel the most free and, more importantly, the most like myself than acting, I later was able to connect back to that moment. I am good at a lot of things, which I could make a career doing, but acting feeds my soul the way in which those things do not. While I understand that just because you can doesn’t mean you should…the truth, once realized, was hard to deny. I have to admit recognizing the truth took me awhile. And the process is not as cut and dry as it appears (Come on. Do you really want this post to get longer? :P)

Also, what is/ may seem like a failure really is just a stepping stone to better things. Some could look at my 80-100 hour work weeks in the corporate world as a complete waste of time. Imagine where you could’ve been had you started earlier (read: younger* – ha! Dude, I’m an actor. I’m awesome at recognizing subtext. And, yeah, this is an ageist business so it’s true). But once I was able to step away from the situation, I realized how much it strengthened and prepped me for the road ahead. It makes even the most hectic, ‘impossible’ week seem possible. It also equipped me with a professionalism and business savvy that a lot of my peers lack.  

The company I keep are full of beautiful artists pursuing different types of passions.  And while it isn’t all necessarily producing what people would traditionally consider art (e.g., medical research), to me it is still their art. I hope you’re pursuing your passion and creating your art. And if you stumble, please know we’re stumbling right alongside you.  

*I play 20s and, luckily, I’ll play this range for the next ten years (if demonstrated by the way my mom has aged)! 😀

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