It All Comes Into Play

Working in the entertainment world in a secondary market means that you will work with and come across a lot of people who eventually move to either New York or Los Angeles.  Sadly it’s kind of a given as there isn’t enough work in a secondary market to financially sustain most people full time.  So most will make the move to the factory town, either New York if they are interested in theatre or Los Angeles if their goal is film or television.  Even voice artists may have to make the move.  While being able to work anywhere due to advances in technology, if you wish to pursue voicing animation, gaming or looping, you kind of have to be where it’s being created and that means LA.

What it means for me is I have a lot of friends and colleagues who now reside in LA.  I had the chance to catch up with one recently.  She made the move 2 years ago after graduating from college and was living the stereotypical actors life, waitressing to sustain herself while pursuing auditions and meeting with managers and agents.  You know the drill.

She updated me on what was going on in her life as we hadn’t spoken for quite a while.  She’d just left a long time waitressing job at a chain to move to a different restaurant.  It was a difficult decision as she truly felt like her co-workers were her family.  But this chain didn’t support her idea of living responsibly which included only eating what you really need and not serving huge portions that either go to waste or to waist.  Instead she found a place that supported her lifestyle choices of sustainability.  Even then, it wasn’t an ideal situation as she was being over-scheduled and she hadn’t as yet established many solid relationships with co-workers.  But she felt this was a temporary situation that was getting better every day.

It made me think about my last corporate job I held.  I was there for 12 years which is almost unheard of these days.  I stayed for various reasons, first because I liked and respected my co-workers.  Then because the environment was so healthy.  After all there weren’t many places that actually treat you like a grown up and let you do your job without second guessing every move.  Finally I stayed because once I started acting, I realized that my longevity and seniority gave me the flexibility I needed to pursue this new passion without sacrificing the quality of work I did for my day gig.

Hearing my friend discuss her decisions helped me to realize that everything we do, every choice we make about how we live, work and even eat, comes into play with our careers.  If we have a good paying but toxic job that sucks energy and passion from our quest, we may pay the rent but our progress will be slow or maybe even stalled.  If we work at a place that encourages overeating, you may find yourself being not so camera ready before long.  Taking care with all of the choices we make, even the seemingly non-important or non-related ones will serve us well as we go forth.

Paying It Forward

Several days ago I mentioned an encounter with an actor who is consistently working in film and television in Los Angeles.  I found myself in the same elevator so the poor man had no choice but to endure my conversation.  At the time I didn’t realize who he was as I wasn’t the target demo for the shows he’s previously been on, I thought he was a sports anchor on a station I’d previously sold.  Anywho, he most graciously put up with my request to pick his brain and answered my questions for about an hour and a half.  The topics were all over the board from what he felt when a series was cancelled to are there any normal people in Hollywood and how do you tell if they like you for you and not for what you can do for them?  It was truly one of most seminal moments in my career to date.  The information he shared, the inside tips and the encouragement were early Christmas presents delivered at a time when I needed to receive them.  I had a smile on my face the remainder of the day that no lack of sleep from a red-eye flight could erase.

I don’t know if someone had done this for him early in his career or if he was just in a good mood and felt like talking.  I’m sure when he left to catch his plane back to LA he had no idea of the impact he’d left on me and of the ripple effect his words would produce.  I’m sure once he hit the terminal floor our encounter was forgotten as he moved into getting home mode. But I didn’t forget and I won’t forget.  I’ll think back to that conversation many times over the next weeks and months as I go forward.  And that’s the way it should be.  There is a saying that when the student is ready the teacher will appear.  I learned many lessons that early morning and am most grateful for the generosity and kindness shown to me by a fellow actor.  It was pretty amazing.

There’s no place like home

Do you ever get that uneasy feeling?  The one that comes from the realization that not enough right is happening in your life.   So of course you need to shake things up, make some stuff happen, just get SOMETHING moving in a direction, any direction will do.  You can call it restlessness if you want .  Or maybe it’s dissatisfaction.  Whatever it is, it doesn’t feel good.  So by golly let’s make a change.  All of the sudden you start considering things you’d never consider before, like oh I don’t know, maybe moving to New York or LA.  After all, I am an actor right?  Why wouldn’t I make a move there?  Makes perfect sense to me.  Or sheesh, I haven’t had a decent date in the back half of this decade so of course it’s a good idea to ring up an old flame to reignite something that is long dead and buried, thank heavens.  I’m sure all of the things that weren’t quite right then have all resolved themselves.  Or you quit your job, fire your agent, finally tell off your sister.  Anything to move the needle.  Get out of the funk that has overtaken your life.

I found myself in this exact situation recently.  Things aren’t moving as fast as I want them to in most aspects of my life.  I’ve got plans after all and a timeline which I expect to be met.  And when reality crashes into my expectations like 2 atoms at the new Hadron Collider, it really sends me into a downward spiral that threatens to overtake me.  So add to this lethal mix 2 New York based movies, Sex and the City and You’ve Got Mail with all their pretty pictures, nice people, beautiful apartments, perfect wardrobes, snappy lines, and you have the makings of a hare-brained idea to chuck all this and move to NY.  Brilliant right?  The rub is, when you get to NY or wherever you run too, once you unpack everything, you realize you’ve brought with you the same problems you had in the old location.  The only thing different is the zip code.  And you’ve compounded it once you realize you’ve left behind the support system you’d painstakingly built in your old locale.  So now you have to start all over building a new one and in your spare time, deal with your problem all by your lonesome.

It is said if you want to hear God laugh, just tell Him what you’ve got planned.  Whatever it is that isn’t right in your world, you have to fix it before you can move forward.  It sure would be easier to run away.  Sometimes being a grown up ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.