If it follows you wherever you go, just embrace it!
(…or call the police!)
The first time I acted in a full length play, it was Shakespeare and I was ten years old. From that point on, I knew I would be an actor.
I pursued theatre all through high school and college, graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in the subject. Post graduation, I started to audition. You would think my childhood determination should have carried me through, but the fear of competition and rejection held me back. I banked everything on one audition. Not getting cast, I soon declared I didn’t love acting enough to go through “all that.” It was easier to either leave acting altogether or hide in the director’s chair.
So I left! I moved to Prague, Czech Republic to teach English. But my hiatus only lasted a month and a half. Half-way through my certification course my instructor sat me down and said, “I know you have a background in theatre. My friend tours an educational theatre company around the Czech Republic. Would you be interested?” Stunned, yet excited, I said, “Yes!” A few months later I was co-directing(i.e. hiding) and found myself standing-in for the lead actress during rehearsal. The other director confronted me, “I don’t know why you say you’re not an actor. You have great instincts! There’s always a need for more training, but never let that stop you!”
Fast forward a couple of years. I was back in Seattle, certain that my destiny lay in non-profit work, when a previous acting teacher asked me to perform in a Christmas show, no audition needed. Almost simultaneously a professional theatre company, with which I had interned, asked me to join their touring company, again, no audition needed. People were ASKING and PAYING ME to do this?!? That was when I finally started to take the hint!
I started auditioning for real, got an agent and continued acting professionally. However, even after a couple years of pursuing this career, I still struggled. Recently, when the time came for me to quit my part-time job, I was searching for something to take it’s place. An opportunity came my way which looked ideal on paper. I knew I was perfectly qualified, could be pretty happy taking this position and loved the idea of financial stability. But it wasn’t acting. Not only was it not acting, it would hinder me from pursuing acting fully. My heart didn’t flutter at the thought. It wasn’t my dream come true.
This whole time I’ve been afraid of commitment, making excuses and running from the possibility of failure, but this acting thing has persistently followed me everywhere I go. Someone once reminded me that “ambivalent” doesn’t mean you don’t care; it means you feel two ways about something and it paralyzes you. On the one hand, I loved acting so much; but I was so afraid of it not panning out, that it froze in my tracks. No more! Who knows what this career holds for me, but it is sure to hold nothing if I don’t claim it for my own!
Here I am in LA, owning it! I AM AN ACTOR!
Stay tuned for Own it! (Part 2): “So, I’m an actor. Now what?”