This acting business is nuts.
I'm not normally one to be all "rah-rah-rah" about the state of my life - I think it's all being confident in yourself and your abilities, and having the most positive outlook that you can. I know a lot of people in the acting world are not real pessimists - you can't be if you're going to survive. There's so much rejection, implied and direct, that if you doubt yourself, you'll fall into an emotional pit that's difficult to claw your way out of.
This journey, even though I'm less than a year in, has had many ups and downs. At a high level:
- Moved to LA after a great trip in San Diego with my family and my girlfriend, booked a background gig as a cop on an Amazon Prime show. Sweet!
- I spent so much time compiling personalized electronic applications for roughly 60 agencies, without hearing back from any of them and knowing that my submissions were almost never getting looked at. Chunk-blow.
- The one agency that did contact me back brought me in for an open call and a call-back, then called and said they wanted to sign me! And they got me several auditions in my first week with them! I'm back up on Cloud 9, baby!
- Money starts to run tight. Classes add up, and I'm not the best at keeping expenses low (I've had steady, high-paying Bay Area finance jobs up until this point, so sue me. Wait - don't. Not sure if I could even afford Lionel Hutz as my attorney). Auditions have slowed down and driving Lyft is not my first choice of employment. Crap.
- I booked a few gigs! Some through my own work and some through my agent - some money is coming in from doing what I love! I'm getting good feedback in my improv classes, and making connections to a lot of different people. I'm even starting a project with a friend to make a commercial for my cousin's business! Huzzah!
That's the 50,000-foot view. As one of my friends puts it, these highs and lows are present in every moment in the life of an aspiring actor. It can be exhausting. It's definitely daunting. And it's an uncertain future at best.
But would I trade it back for my old life? Not in a heartbeat.
I come home on my worst days, exhausted after trying to work on a bunch of different things (or even having fun - marathon D&D sessions can really wipe you out), and will lay in bed, sleepless with concern over all the balls I have in the air right now. But then I remind myself that despite all the hurdles, all the worry, all the hustle and responsibility, I'm doing what so few people even get the chance to do. I'm not lucky to have made it as an actor; I'm lucky to have even tried it full-time.
I'm meeting so many interesting people. I'm carving out time to do things that I've always wanted to do - write stories, play D&D with a fantastic DM, work on my craft as an actor, start a business with someone whom I truly respect. All while being lucky enough to be in the Mecca of the entertainment industry. Like my friend said, there are so many highs and lows; you have to learn how to respond to them. Amplify the highs, and sometimes be fine with taking the L (are kids still saying that?). Surround yourself with good people who make you want to be a better person, who drive you forward; spend less time with the ones who drain you and bring you down.
Life truly is what you make of it. Nobody gets out of here alive. Grab it by the balls, give it your best shot, and don't set too lofty a goal for yourself - be proud of what you make and who you are.
I know that people who subscribe to the Japanese concept of Kaizen probably take umbrage with that last sentence, and while I believe in always improving yourself, I think there are ways to grow and to find what makes you happy right where you are.
Alright, I'm done being cheesy. Skyrim, and bed beyond, await. Thanks for listening, dear reader(s).