The 100 Day Character

I am terrified.

I have made the decision to do something different for the next 100 Days of Self-Taping. Starting November 1st, I will be embarking on a journey with a single character that I am creating that I will live with every day for the next 100 days. Each day I will tape a 15 second or less excerpt and post it to a new Instagram account that is dedicated to this story.

There are several things about this that terrify me. 1) I have never done anything like this before. (Nor have I seen a story told like this before.) 2) I really want it to be amazing and I’m afraid that it won’t live up to my own expectations. 3) The whole story isn’t written yet. I have a good idea of where I want it to go, but I want to be open to changes, both that are influenced by myself, as the writer/performer, and by you, as the audience.

Every day that I prepare for this I have been on the edge of quitting and going the much easier route, but then I remember that the things that terrify me are the same things that excite me. And that is why I HAVE to do this project. November 1st is this Sunday. I invite you to go on this journey with me. As I said, there may be points where you have the power to influence this character’s fate. To follow be a part of this character’s journey, go to my new Instagram account: The100DayCharacter. If you want to do a 100 day project of self-taping or another 100 day project of your own with me, follow my regular Instagram account: CharissaJActor, where I will be posting updates and encouragements for the group of us who doing these 100 days of creating together.

Let this terrifying adventure begin!

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What You Do Next

A couple weeks ago, one of my best friends left the United States to join the Peace Corps in Zambia. She will be gone for two years. We usually only get to see each other about once a year, but still this was a very difficult goodbye, knowing our contact will be extremely limited. She is one of the strongest, most passionate, adventurous people I know and I am proud to be her friend.

When we were hanging out right before she left, she was sharing her feelings about jumping into this crazy adventure and how she was preparing for it. Her parents, who have a lot of cross-cultural experience, passed on a great piece of advice from a mentor of theirs which really stuck with me.

“It’s not what you do; it’s what you do next that counts.”
Marvin K. Mayers

She is going to encounter new people, customs, languages and many cultural differences. It would be easy to get overwhelmed and live in fear of making a mistake. The truth is, mistakes and missteps are unavoidable, no matter who or where you are. However, it isn’t about the mistakes you make, it’s about how you handle them moving forward.

This piece of advice was so freeing to me. Granted, I am not moving to Zambia and starting a completely new life, but I did just move to Los Angeles and commit to following my dream of being an actor. I will make mistakes, both in the business side and acting side. But it isn’t about making the mistake, it’s about handling the situation and/or relationship afterwards. If there’s a misunderstanding, do I clarify it or let the embarrassment create a rift? In an audition, do I hold back in my acting or take the big risk and see what happens? If I flub a line, do I let it ruin the audition or do I move forward with grace and spontaneity(even after the audition is over)? If I find I have a certain area of weakness in my acting, do I seek to improve it or hide in shame whenever that weakness is put to the test? There are more examples, many of which I am sure I have yet to encounter. The point is, I am moving forward inspired by this mantra AND even more so by my friend who is actively living it out on the other side of the world.

Entering the Marathon

Over the last couples years I have been going back and forth between Seattle and LA. My LA stints have ranged from 3 days to 4 1/2 months. Now I am a permanent resident of Southern California and it feels good! For as much as I have accomplished in the last couple years and as thankful as I am that I could live in two cities, I am so happy to be able to focus my attention on one place.

It occurred to me over the last couple weeks as I am settling into this new life, that this time is different. I was telling a friend that I was anxious to get out there, audition, find my agent, dive into pilot season. She stopped me. “Charissa, you have time. You need to make your home and get use to life here. You’ll need that to be able to sustain life here.” Right. Yes. That helped me take a step back and breathe. When I was here before, I had no life to establish; I just jumped right in to the acting stuff. I had a pretty singular focus, with a very limited time line. I was in a sprint. Now I’m in the marathon.

Now my whole life is here. I need a safe space. I need balance. I need routine. I need sustainability. All of that will take time to establish. During the Superbowl, a car commercial came on with the tortoise and the hare. They twisted the ending of the beloved story a little bit, BUT it reminded me that slow and steady wins the race. I’m not in this for a couple months. I’m in this for life. Taking a couple weeks to set up my life is working towards that end goal. A runner wouldn’t consider going out there without the proper gear. I’m making sure my gear is together as I get ready for the long haul.

Let the LA marathon begin!

To boldly go… where most actors have gone before!

I told you I’m moving to LA, right? I had this great situation worked out: a house with five people, three of them actors, two of whom were close friends from college; only $300/month rent (including food); cars to share/borrow; and an ideal location. Then all that fell through!
My friend called me last week to tell me they would no longer be living in the house…. as of Sunday. She was incredibly optimistic and exuded a peace which carried me over for a couple days — that is, until anxiety started setting in. It got worse every time a friend or acquaintance started inquiring as to the details of my move. Those questions only cemented the craziness of this plan (or lack thereof). “So, you’re flying to LA next week and you don’t have a car or a place to live.”  Starting to sweat, I squeak out, “Uh, yes.” I start asking myself, “Where AM I going to live? How much is that going to cost? Will I have enough money to make it? Should I postpone? Should I even go?”
All of a sudden, I recognize the familiar sound of change and doubts that come with it. Several years ago, I moved to Prague, Czech Republic with only two suitcases and a plan of teaching English: no contacts, no Czech, and no return ticket. Within three months, I had completed a certification course, landed an English teaching job and started acting for an educational theatre company. I spent a year and a half in Prague, during which I had some of the most amazing life experiences and met some life-long friends, including my future husband. If all that can come out of such uncertainty, surely I can brave a new city with a loving and supportive husband, where they speak the same language and I have friends around every corner. The thing is, in my experience, the most amazing things happen when you let go and step out into the unknown. Is LA daunting? Yes. Will a living situation work out? Yes. Will I find a way to get around? Yes. Will things turn out the way I expect? No. Is this adventure worth the risk? HELL, YES!