"Hope is a thing with feathers"...
A very wise acting teacher of mine, Richard Pinter, said this quote to me in my second year at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. I never really understood it until now.
I grew up in a very supportive loving environment at home. My parents both told me to work hard and follow my dreams, and so I did. I knew that becoming an actor would be a life filled with ups and downs and plenty of rejection, but I was ready for that. I loved the ride. I loved the unpredictability and the ever changing schedule. I was prepared for the "rejection" of not being cast in different productions, shows, commercials, etc. I was prepared for the instability financially and was prepared to work hard at a "Joe Job" to pay the bills...for my art.
What I was not prepared for in the weird but wonderful world of acting is the heartbreak you feel when you think you've gotten your foot in the elusive "door"...when you actually GET THAT PART that you think is going to change things but then somehow things fall through the cracks. I worked hard on countless projects that didn't go very far (AKA didn't even get the opportunity to be seen) and my heart hurt. I was "cast" in several "feature films" that never panned out. My agent never came to a show I did all summer that I was very proud of and then decided to let me go off the roster. I felt like a failure and frankly a fraud. I wasn't an actor, I was trying and not succeeding at being one. I started to doubt my talent and whether my life in acting was going anywhere. I felt the years flying by and my career wasn't even close to where I wanted it to be. The HOPE that I once felt so strongly, seemed like a broken promise that I had made to myself. I felt as though I was stuck in an abusive relationship with my acting career and so I lashed back at it to try to gain control.
I started to focus on my business. I stopped hanging out and chatting with actor friends. I stopped reading plays. I stopped looking for a new agent. I stopped acting...and for a while, it felt right.
I tried to convince myself (and my ever supportive family) that this was the right move, that I had found the natural transition from actor to entrepreneur and that my life was unfolding in a totally satisfying way. This state of mind which I believed to be genuine began to fade.
The dissatisfaction I felt in my life artistically crept up on me slowly but steadily. It happened so slowly in fact that I didn't even realize what was happening...I was just suddenly more irritable, less interested in my business, less motivated to exercise and I just sort of felt..bleh. Many months later I was asked to do a corporate acting gig (I play a fun character in a "workplace investigation" to help people train for similar situations in their work environment). I prepared for it, executed it well, and I felt great. My energy was better, my motivation was back, and I felt more like me. I pulled out my favorite Stars album on the drive home and blasted it with a huge smile on my face. It was the first time I had tapped into my "actor self" in almost a year.
Everything I saw and read suddenly reminded me of acting, and I felt something in my gut that I had never felt this deeply before...REGRET.
Classmates and former acting coworkers suddenly seemed to be popping up in Feature Films, Broadway shows and even TV Commercials on the daily. My Instagram was flooded with other peoples posts about 'following your dreams' and quotes like: 'ignoring your passion leads to slow death' etc etc. It was as though the universe was giving me a little nudge, a little reminder that it's not too late.
Some people think it is such a simple decision...just get back at it. Balance your business (which oddly enough is doing better than ever now) with your acting schedule and just make it work. Give it another go. Other people think it's crazy to throw any more of my time at a career that didn't give me the financial or emotional stability that I did, in fact end up craving more and more.
Everyone has a suggestion, a point of view and both sides are valid. I just have to figure this out for myself. Is there some sort of magical balance between the business and acting that I can manage or is that a pipe dream? Am I going to hit my 30th birthday as an actor/entrepreneur or just an entrepreneur?
I don't know the answer yet. I just know that I need to make a change because life is too short and artistically, I feel a little starved. Whether this means teaching acting to clients kids once a week or jumping in with both feet and getting a new agent, I'm just not sure yet.