Patience and Positivity

“Actors are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime.”  -David Ackert

I hate making excuses. But as I mentioned in my last post, there’s a difference between having an obstacle and having a “lazy day where I’m going to drink and not do work”…which turns into a lazy month. (Please don’t get me wrong. We’re allowed a lazy day every now and then. Just not everyday. Not in this industry). That being said, there are times when you are allowed to take a step back and acknowledge that this business is really freaking hard. How can it not be when you’re constantly facing rejection and supposed to keep trucking along like nothing happened?

What I like to do is take some time to acknowledge what happened. Depending on the rejection depends on how hard I take it. Let’s take yesterday for example. I had an audition for a talent agency downtown. This particular agency has several offices across the country and from what I understand are very new to Chicago. Because of this, I didn’t know what to expect. But there’s nothing to loose, so why not apply? I had a meeting with them just yesterday, and…..it didn’t go well. I spent an hour and a half waiting in line, listening to a talk on what their company was about, and then got called into a room with someone only to learn that I didn’t have the availability they wanted.

I was upset to say the least. While I wasn’t able to learn more about them, this seemed like a great opportunity for me. When will I get another chance like this?

If you had asked me last night, I would have said, “Never!” and then continued to listen to my Pandora station while being grumpy the entire train ride home. After waking up this morning however, I felt different. I felt recharged and ready to work. Granted, I was going to work as a waiter…not quite the work I was ready to do. But I felt good nonetheless. I had several thoughts running through my mind that I wish to share with you all now.

Be patient. Last night I was convinced I’d never have a chance of getting an agent again. SO not true. More opportunities will show up as you continue to work and put in the effort to find them. Yes it will take time. But that happens. It’s not always fun, and no one likes waiting. But it’s part of the game.

Be positive. Not sure if other actors will agree with me on this part. Earlier I mentioned how if I’m upset, I’m going to take time to be upset. I started doing it after watching an episode of “Cheers” (Woo Boston pride!). There’s a moment where Sam Malone, former Red Sox pitcher, was given a chance to appear in a big television interview. Mid interview, a new story broke out about a newer athlete. The interview immediately ceased so that they could focus on said athlete. Sam was crushed. One of his coworkers later tried to cheer him up, Sam told her “I will put the past behind me and tomorrow I’m going to feel better, but tonight I’m gonna feel bad.”

So maybe that’s not being positive.

What I do is give myself SOME time to be upset. But then be ready to bounce back tomorrow.

Also, I don’t want to give the impression that I get upset after EVERY rejection. Some are harder than others. But if you do find yourself getting frustrated from auditions frequently, check out Zachary Durand’s blog post about auditioning. And then follow him on twitter if you really wanna get inspired.

And with that, I’ll end with the David Ackert quote I started with. This entire quote does not necessarily relate to this post. But I wanna share it regardless.

“Every day, actors face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every role, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life – the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because actors are willing to give their entire lives to a moment – to that line, that laugh, that gesture, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Actors are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.”

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Setbacks and How to Get Through Them

“We all have setbacks. I mean God knows, it’s just life. We’ll start over.” 

I wanted to make this post about Chicago and why I chose to move here. On September 1st, I reached my two year anniversary with the Windy City. But also on September 1st, I got home from my performance of “Ah, Wilderness” to find that my apartment had been robbed and many of my favorite things were gone.

I couldn’t believe it. I had never gotten anything stolen before. Now all of a sudden my favorite baseball items were gone forever and I had no laptop. Granted, my laptop had seen better days, but I had my “life” saved onto that silly Dell Latitude D620. Headshots, resumes, acting expenses, work expenses, skits, plays, etc. (And before you ask – no I didn’t have anything backed up. Despite the fact that all of my friends tell me to back up my files. Thank god for email, still have the headshot and resume!)

Now when you have your most important acting tool taken from you, what on earth are you supposed to do?! You certainly can’t go to your favorite Starbucks and email your headshot and resume to various theatre companies, that’s for sure. You also can’t check for gigs without internet access. And you surely can’t update your new blog that you had planned on updating just a few days after just writing your first post.

I had reached a setback.

Setbacks suck. There’s nothing else to it. But they’re going to happen. What’s important to learn from these setbacks is that they’re just temporary. And when a week or so has gone by and you haven’t done anything to further your career, you don’t need to make excuses. You have a legit obstacle that will take time to pass. I find that I kick myself when I’m not doing enough. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s important to realize that there’s a difference between a setback and “it’s the end of the summer so let’s get drunk and not do work” type of deal.

I’ll give another different example: At the end of June, I quit my well-paying desk job for a position waiting tables. I started out with mediocre hours and very few tips. I had no idea what my new schedule was going to be like and hated that I didn’t know my schedule months ahead of time anymore. Having little money on top of adjusting to a new schedule is going to through your daily routine off. It was a setback. But soon enough I learned I could audition and rehearse, while still making time for work and social activities.

While I don’t have the magically answer of how to get through a tough time, I do know this: be surrounded by your friends as much as possible.

I forgot to mention that I was the only one of my roommates home when I learned about the robbery, and would remain so for another few days. At first I was reluctant to share the news with friends. But once I did, I started getting texts and Facebook comments from friends asking when I was free to hangout. My friend Danielle also gracious lent me her laptop because she had a work one that she could use in the meantime. I love my friends.

Ah! I almost posted this without posting a link to a great post from my  dear friend and “partner for life,” Katelyn Collins. She wrote a while back about a similar experience – though hers involved a skateboard.

The quote I started out with is from LOST. Michael had just built a raft to get him and his son off the godforsaken island, only to find that the whole thing burned. After freaking out, he calmed down and explained to his son that “we all have setback,” but was ready to start over. He said that together, they would build a better raft.

While I certainly am not going to build a better computer, you better believe that this setback will not stop me from chasing my dreams. I hope you don’t let setbacks get in the way of yours.