By surrounding yourself with Yay-sayers.
Today I wanted to tap into something that’s quite personal to me. It is about wanting to be an actor, and how I was always told that was not “realistic”. I don’t remember exactly the first time I thought to myself, “I want to be an actor”, but I remember that when I was about 11-years-old, I was walking in a mall with my mom, when a talent scout stopped us, and gave us a card, telling us that I had a great look, and that I should pursue acting/modelling.
That was the first time I clearly remember wanting something about my future, really bad. Not just a toy, or new clothes, but something I wanted for my future–something I wanted to become. So, my mom called the talent agency, and we went for an interview. Well, the agency wanted X amount of dollars for portfolio or classes or something-or-other, and basically–we couldn’t afford it. I was too young, and it wasn’t gonna’ happen for me.
Well, this same sort of scenario happened to me over the years, many times, at different ages and stages of my life. By (mostly) family but also strangers, and sometimes even friends. I was basically always told, that what I wanted, was “unrealistic” and it was immature of me, to ask for the support to pursue such an unrealistic dream. So I told myself, that if I was going to do this–pursue an acting career, I’d have to do it on my own.
All my siblings went to an Arts school as a Visual Arts Major for high school. I chose to go to the same school, but as a Dramatic Arts Major. My mom made sure I registered for a back-up school just in case I didn’t get admitted. To be honest, I don’t remember whether I was hurt by that or not. Just that it happened.
But I remember my grade eight teacher, Mr. Vale invited me to present my audition monologue to the class. I don’t remember the exact words (I wish I did), but he told me that I could do anything I really wanted to. That gave me power. And good news–I got in! Thinking back now, that was the first “job” I ever auditioned for and booked!
I never invited my family members to any of my school showcases. I just felt more secure performing in front of strangers, than my own family. I felt more comfortable having my friends’ parents praise me, and encourage me. And when I was older and worked on a cruise line as a performer–I let my cast-mates, directors and producers give me the encouragement I needed to keep going.
But once school was out, and my contract ended. It got lonely.
When you’re in your twenties, strangers love asking you “what are you going to do now?” Every time I answered “I want to be an actor” they got that look in their eyes. The one that says “oh right…you’ll come to your senses” or “good luck, you’ll need it”. And I’d think to myself “what am I doing with my life?”
The thing to remember is that you’re not alone. I’ve always said that acting classes are worth the money, if only for the connections you make in the class. Anytime I was feeling discouraged, I would sign up for whatever I could afford, usually something short like a weekend workshop–just to immerse myself with like-minded people. If I had more time than money, I would volunteer for play readings or audition for community theatre. The feeling was palpable! The energy in those workshops would power me up like a charger. Just like my teacher Mr. Vale.
And that’s how you do it. That’s how you block those people who can’t see the possibilities because they’re too stuck in what’s “realistic” to them. Inventions weren’t made because people only believed in what they already knew. Limits were broken, theories debunked, all because people believed in things that weren’t yet a reality.
So, when you get frustrated that you haven’t had an audition in months, or that you submitted 20 self-tapes and heard nothing back–that feeling like “what am I doing with my life?” Reach out to other actors.
It’s easier than ever to connect and meet new friends. One of the great things about the internet and social media is that you can always turn to someone!!! Search Facebook and you’ll find plenty of Actor/Film/Production pages to join in your area. Then when you join, put yourself out there and say “Hi!”. Join a meet up group or start one of your own. Surround yourself with others that can see your vision and lift each other up.
Google actor’s free resources and you see wonderful stuff pop up such as Amy Jo Berman or Wendy Braun at Actor Inspiration (I assure you I am not paid by either one of these wonderful ladies). They have loads of free masterclasses and tips and tricks to share. Of course, you want to check the credentials and reviews before you pay for anything, or even apply their acting techniques. But, if you research enough, you’re gonna see that many of the advice you get–is the same. What works, works.
And I’m happy to say, that after many stops and starts, trying out different careers, and going back and forth on some other paths. I have always found my way back to acting. Just this past year, a few months after I turned 39, I told my mother that I booked a role on a movie. She told me for the first time that she was proud of me.