I love dear Mister Sondheim. May he rest. No he's not actually dead, but his career is. Oh please, theatre kweens, I jest, I jest. ALTHOUGH, once you get a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre (2008), the American Theatre Wing has pretty much said, "Okay, yeah, thanks SOOOOO much, but like we need to move on." No I'm totally joking. I'm a comedienne. And much like Amy Schumer, and unlike Donald Drumpf, I am NOT serious when I say offensive things.
But like, for realz. Art is not easy. And I would like to take a moment to salute all of the actors who get their asses out of bed between the hours of 5AM and 7AM to get to the Actors' Equity Building (or Pearl, or Ripley Grier, or (gods forbid) NOLA) in order to wait in line to be brought upstairs and wait in another, slightlydifferent line. And then you sign up for an appointment time, or another waiting list, and then, you guessed it, you wait.
Please let me qualify this post by saying that I am not claiming my career is the hardest one that anyone has ever endeavored to pursue. I am very fortunate in a lot of ways, and this is not an opportunity for me to stroke my own ego or appeal for pity points. The point of this writing is to say that the work we do as actors is hard. Oh, and this is well before we have a contract in our hands.
I think when I heard older, more established actors talking about "pounding the pavement" I took it with a grain of salt and even romanticized the idea. How delicious it must feel to book a job after "pounding the pavement" for a month or so. Oh, two months? Wait, you couldn't have meant three months. YOU'RE TELLING ME WE'RE INTO OUR FIFTH MONTH AND *NOTHING*?!?! How romantic.
Over the course of the past four and a half months, I have been to roughly 85 auditions. I know this because I keep a very detailed journal (pictured below):
Looks kinda cool when you see it all at once like that. But you know how many jobs it's gotten me since January? You're right. 0. But this is not a pity post. This is just to illustrate the amount of WORK that actors put into their jobs well before any actual JOBS happen.
You know what sucks about acting? You pour your heart and soul into tens and hundreds of auditions over the course of your life and *most* of them will not give you any returns. But you know what's amazing about acting? One job feels good enough to more than make up for all of that. Whenever I get a small gig at the Metropolitan Room or perform as ambiance for a party with toUch Performance Art, those few hours are more than enough to keep me going. Wow. I can't wait until the work is coming in more steadily. I genuinely can't.
One common downside I see all the time in the acting community is people attaching their level of self-worth to how many callbacks or jobs they're getting. Somehow it has trickled down that how well you sing/dance/act/look the part equates to how good of a person you are. Or how much you deserve to be loved. Isn't that so messed up?
I know this is the case because I've been feeling this way for the past month or so. Granted, I also just got out of a relationship so part of my self worth was definitely invested in that. But I think more than anything it's my career that has been on my mind recently. I always wonder if I would be happier pursuing Arts Administration or some other bullshit job like that. *wink*
Here's what you have to understand. Acting and Theatre and Musicals (yes, all capital, my writing professor from college) fuel my soul in a way that nothing else ever has. Remembering how I felt after producing and acting in Fat Pig at The Boston Conservatory will always always always fuel my need to act again. Knowing how well my work was received in Voice and Speech, and Acting, and Movement class will always fuel my need to act again. The emotions that I feel regularly that are too big to experience in real life because they need the support of the exaggerated world of the stage will always fuel my need to act again. But all of that is at odds with the inconsistency of the acting lifestyle. Blake is a person who craves consistency. Because my brain is already so all over the place (in case you haven't noticed from the "flow" of this blog post), that whenever I can, I latch onto consistency.
Maybe that's why I'm a serial dater. Because I need a human lifejacket to at least guarantee my head will stay afloat in the turbulent waters of young adulthood. But this post is not about that. Stop making self-discoveries, Blake. Not the time.
Basically, the numbers are stacked against The Actor. It's not your fault you weren't cast; there are hundreds if not thousands of conscious and unconscious reasons why you didn't get the job. But you didn't get the job. You didn't get the job in the career that you are actively pursuing, 85 auditions at a time. If this is what I think I'm good at, and I'm not getting cast, am I not as good as I think I am? Is my level of self-perception lacking? If so, what else am I lying to myself about? AAAAAAAAAAAAAND we're rabbit-holing.
Hey, The Actor. Make your own work. Stop looking to other people for approval. Find it in yourself. You don't need a job to tell you that this is what you love to do. You don't need your ex to tell you that you deserve to be loved. You don't need naysayers to tell you to go back to Indiana. I'm speaking very generally here, of course. Have faith. Have theatre. Just have something.