So What Happened to Acting?

For those of who you know me, you know that I am an actor.

joeyfriends

I have my Bachelor’s in Film, Theatre and Communications from The University of New Orleans where I spent three of my four undergraduate years gracing the Robert E. Nims stages and UNO Filmmakers student films with my friendly face.

gene

An actor, I am.

Over the years, I have realized that acting is hard. Not the act itself. I love the process. Auditioning, nervous jitters, landing a role, prepping for the role, rehearsal, takes, feeling like you’re going to puke and pee your pants all at once before going onstage for the first show of the run, et cetera.

The business, on the other hand? That’s the hard part.

When you’re an actor, you need to be prepared to audition anywhere at any given time. I once got a request for a live audition for 10am in downtown New Orleans. It was 9am, and I was at work in uptown. Couldn’t go.

Taped auditions are another beast entirely, because you need to find someone who will tape it, you need to prepare for it, and do take after take until you’re happy. Then you upload it, send it off to your agent, etc. That takes time and money. People don’t just tape for free.

Headshots cost money.

Going to classes and workshops costs money.

Driving to Atlanta for a callback for less than 24-hours costs money and you might still be a little bitter about it because you nailed that audition BUT WHATEVER.

All of it costs money, but being an actor and working a job that pays you enough to sustain yourself don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.

I worked in customer service for two years after graduating. I hated it. I didn’t like that I had a degree and was serving coffee, but it was a job and it also allowed me to pursue acting. In those two years, I auditioned quite a bit for film and performed in three plays. It was a blast – the acting part. The in-between? Not so much.

In August 2015, I started working full-time as a theatre teacher, and that’s when acting went out the window. I did star in one play during that time, but working full-time and rehearsing was exhausting, and it if weren’t for my co-star, I probably would have resented the entire experience only because I was forcing it.

I was forcing myself to enjoy the process.

I was forcing myself to study my lines.

I was forcing myself to see that this was good. I was performing. This was good.

But it wasn’t enough.

Acting in college is such a ridiculous tease. You compete with a small pool of other actors, land a role, work tirelessly on it because you have the time to, and then perform. There are pretty lights, and costume fittings, and playbills, and a box office, and crowds of people waiting to congratulate you when it’s all said and done.

And then you go out and have a beer and share a pizza and talk about the show.

And then you go to your dorm, post a sappy Facebook status, and fall asleep on your angel cloud pillow bed.

And then you wake up in the fantasy world of class and no job because you don’t need money and you’re a student so that’s your present success, and you do it all over again.

Three shows a semester.

A film or two in-between.

The life.

And you graduate.

And you’re still an actor with a fancy piece of paper and student loan debt.

But you need a job.

And it can’t be a job-job, a 9-5, because you need time to act.

So you serve coffee.

And months go by with no audition.

And you’re left thinking, “What just happened? What am I doing?

But then you get a part.

A part you really wanted.

That you earned.

And you work.

orestes
Orestes 2.0, Theatre UNO
cuckoosnest
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, NOLA Project

Every single night, six nights a week, three hours a night, you work. Around other people like you. Baristas. Servers. Bartenders. Actors. And you think, “Oh, I can make it.”

I can make it. 

So what happened with me?

I… dont know.

I lost focus?

I lost the spark?

The drive. The willingness to work in customer service and have to beg for someone to cover my shift if the acting gods rain an audition down on me.

And the willingness to accept that customer service is what I’m doing with my life if they don’t.

I fantasize about what it’d be like to be on Broadway. Standing center stage belting out a fantastic song while wearing an extravagant costume. Seeing my name and bio in the program. Knowing there will be a crowd of people waiting to congratulate me. Tell me I’m good. Give me validation.

shrew
The Taming of the Shrew, Theatre UNO
robinhood
Robin Hood: Thief, Brigand, NOLA Project

Or if work was waking up at 6am to go on set for a twelve hour day. To sit in a chair and have hair and makeup fix you up while you sip your coffee and go over lines and joke around with your cast and crew.

cp
Care Packages, student thesis film
veil
The Veil, student thesis film

I still fantasize about it.

But I’m not doing anything to get there.

I’m currently the Marketing Specialist for a theatre enrichment program in the D.C. area. I am also an editorial intern for an entertainment magazine. I love both of these jobs. I do. I’m very lucky to have them and connect with likeminded adults daily. It’s great.

But it isn’t acting.

It isn’t this.

cp2
Walking to set for Care Packages, lines in hand

What I went to school for.

What I went to school for and loved.

There was a time in my life where I would’ve died for my craft. I lived it, breathed it, ate it, everything. And if it were gone, I would have rather been dead. Now I feel like I just sort of let it go.

I let it go because I had to work on other things. Like making money. And starting my life over, for whatever reason.

You’d think constantly being in pursuit of the next best thing would have benefitted me in my acting goals, but it didn’t.

Not yet anyway.

So what happened to acting, you ask?

Well.

It’s still there within me. The love for it. The need for it. The goosebumps that you get when you watch the Academy Awards or the Tony’s? The excitement and anxiousness you feel when you fantasize about moving to LA or NYC or Chicago? Those are still there. But, little by little, I’ve pushed them down deeper and deeper into my mind and heart because…

Well…

Because I’m afraid to keep pursing it.

suicide
Suicide in the Key of Infomercial, Theatre UNO

Because I’m afraid to fail.

Because I’m afraid to struggle financially.

Mentally.

Emotionally.

Because I’m afraid of what it’ll take…

cp3
Care Packages, student thesis film

The hours.

The relocation.

The isolation.

The nights where I’m crying in my kitchen, sitting on my counter, and eating straight from the pint.

But if you’d ask me what I’d have in my ideal world, I’d tell you that I’d have a career as an actor.

Standing center stage belting out a fantastic song while wearing an extravagant costume. Seeing my name and bio in the program. Knowing there will be a crowd of people waiting to congratulate me. Tell me I’m good. Give me validation.

I’d tell you my ideal world was waking up at 6am to go on set for a twelve hour day. To sit in a chair and have hair and makeup fix you up while you sip your coffee and go over lines and joke around with your cast and crew.

I think that’s what I’d tell you.

That doesn’t mean my life now is unsatisfactory. It’s not. 

It’s just not what I pictured for myself when I was 20.

And sometimes those youthful and naive life pictures are the ones worth framing.

For fun, I’ve attached by acting reel. Thanks to Lee Garcia for cutting it years ago and giving me a shot in your thesis. 🙂

 

Question of the Day!

Have you had a goal that you’ve recently stopped pursing?

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