Own it! (Part 3)

It’s been a long time since I wrote on the subject of “owning it,” but I am realizing it will be a reoccurring theme in my life. I first talked about taking ownership of my pursuits(Part 1 & Part 2) back when I came down to LA for my first short-term stint. It was a landmark in my pursuit of acting as a career. I was realizing all of the fears I had surrounding whether or not I would be successful and choosing to pursue my dream anyway.

Recently, I have noticed a lack of ownership on my part in other areas of my career. As I prepare for the next 100 days of self-taping, I am writing, producing and directing my own thing. However, I’ve noticed myself saying this a lot lately. “I’m not a director, but sometimes I direct.”  Or “I’m not a writer, but I’m working on this script right now.” Basically, I am not a “noun” but I “verb.” I am trying to figure out why I make this qualification every time I tell something what I am doing rather than simply owning it. Two things come to mind.

First, I don’t want to do a disservice to the people who are writers and directors full-time. I want to respect their time, effort, training and years of work they have put into their careers and I don’t want to insert myself into that category without having earned my place there. I also don’t want to give a false impression of my background or of my focus as an artist, which has been on acting. Although I think those reasons are valid, just because I have less experience, does not mean I am not one of those things.

Secondly, and this is the one that I think requires the biggest shift in my mind, I phrase it that way as a “way out” for myself. If I write, but I’m not a writer, then people’s expectations won’t be that high. If I occasionally direct, but I’m not a director, then I can let myself off the hook if it wasn’t as good as I wanted. THAT is dangerous. Dangerous if you think mediocrity is dangerous. And I believe it is. I act. I direct. I write. If I don’t own that I do those things, then I won’t ever take myself seriously in those categories and, therefore, won’t reach the point of calling myself those titles. It’s a vicious cycle of low expectations. That is NOT what I want.

What I DO want is to pursue these things fully, whenever I do them. I don’t want to hold back or give myself excuses or downplay my expertise. I want to be proud of what I put out there. Can I improve? Always. Can I work harder? Yes. Can I learn from the process I am currently in? Certainly. This is my declaration that I will own what I do and change my language to reflect that ownership. I am owning it!

P.S. Another reminder that if you want to join me for 100 Days of Self-Taping or another version of The 100 Day Project, I will be starting November 1st. Follow me on Instagram for more details!


Admin Group

My Admin Group Journal
My Admin Group Journal

Recently, I was sitting around with my roommates talking about keeping our to-do-lists(something we all love to do) and realized the one thing that was missing in getting all these things done was having accountability. Of course, we were pretty good about doing at least half of the things on the list, but sometimes we avoided certain difficult tasks and kept putting them off, or we had trouble with some and needed help breaking through the barriers to our productivity.
Partially inspired by Bonnie Gillespie‘s article about Masterminding(which is definitely worth checking out!), we decided to create this group to help each other accomplish these things. Starting a month ago, five of us have been meeting once a week for about two hours to admin our way into this acting business and I have to say it has been very beneficial. (It so happens that all of us are actors, but I think this kind of group could be helpful with a variety of occupations and interests.)

What we do in our meeting:

  1. Share what we accomplished last week.
  2. Share what we will* accomplish this week. (Using the word “will” is important in stating our commitment to the task and not just “try.”)
  3. Share what we are thankful for.

How it helps:

  • Deadlines– I am less likely to put something off if I know I have to answer to someone for it.
  • Brainstorming– Sometimes a few of us have had a mental block about something we are trying to accomplish. Often we have been able to brainstorm around the problem and help each other break through.
  • Encouragement– Even in the first month of the group, some of us have experience extreme frustration with where we are at. Having people who understand and can speak into that place is invaluable.
  • Celebration– We also have had some great successes! Some of those were as simple as sending a postcard. Others are as big as booking a job. We are here to celebrate with each other in the small and big accomplishments. Today, just one month after starting, we had LOTS to celebrate!

I am so thankful for my admin group. I can wholeheartedly say that my productivity and hopeful spirit has thrived in the last month. I highly recommend it!

Celebrating Failures!

Last week I wrote about getting over my fear of failure so that I could live life to the fullest! One of the steps in doing that is celebrating both my successes AND my failures.

A couple months ago, a friend of mine and I went to an audition together. As we were leaving, she admitted to me that she had forgotten to read the last page of the script and just walked out of the room. She was so embarrassed. As she was beating herself up over it and I was trying to tell her it wasn’t as bad as she thought, her best friend sent her this text, “I applaud your failure!” I was surprised and simultaneously impressed. While I had been trying to diminish what happened, her friend called it what it was AND made it something positive! The shame she felt was lifted and replaced with a sigh of relief. She could now hold her head high when she walked back into that room the next time. How powerful is that?! A simple change in perspective and posture towards an event can change everything. It is the same idea that this speaker talks about in a TED Talk I watched last December: The Failure Bow.

What if we could change our failures into something to be celebrated? After all, it means we risked something; we are human; and maybe we learned something. We are capable of so much…. if we let go of our fear of failure. I decided that as a part of celebrating my failures I want to share some of them with you, somewhat akin to a confession. My hope is that by sharing them 1) they’ll lose the power they hold over me and 2) this exercise will inspire you to celebrate your failures too. So, here we go!

  • I printed 150 ($100) unusable headshots!
  • I mis-named one of my directors on my resume and sent it to him! Ooops.
  • I paid for a Google Voice number with an LA area code for acting purposes, only to later find out I had chosen one from Compton!
  • I bought a $300 plane ticket and flew to an audition which was canceled while I was on the plane!
  • I paid for an acting class that wasn’t right for me!
  • I failed to save this blog and half-way through writing it, it got erased! (Ha!)

Some of these may not be that big of a deal. However, each one of them has carried a little bit of shame or regret and, if left to their own devices, could easily keep me from trying the same thing again.

WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That felt good. Now I can move on. Thanks, everybody!

Now it’s your turn. You don’t have to tell me or share it publicly, but how are you going to celebrate your failures so that you can live life to the fullest?

Get Over Yourself!

There is no such thing as absolute perfection, so get over yourself!

I think we can all agree that we humans aren’t perfect.
Especially when it came to auditions, I used to worry if I was the “best” or if I was “perfect for the part.” However, I’ve found this to be a useless exercise. First, what does “best” mean? MY best? My best for TODAY? The BEST person who auditioned? Was I exactly what they wanted? These questions usually only become bigger and more haunting if you don’t get the role. The answers often made me feel lacking and like I would never “arrive” at that pot at the end of the rainbow, called “perfection.”
In addition, I used to idolize those people who got cast all the time(or at least in my mind they did)! What did they have that I didn’t? A certain look? A specific education? More talent? More connections? This led to jealousy, a deadly vice. Time and again, it would destroy any hope or confidence I ever had.
Through a series of ups and (mostly) downs in auditioning this last year, I have come to a revolutionary (and quite professionally helpful) conclusion! There is no such thing as “perfect” and there is no use answering those questions! JUST DON’T DO IT! Helpful, right? I know that advice wouldn’t have helped me at the time. THIS is what did help me.
One of the biggest pieces of my journey last year was applying for the Ensemble Training Intensive with Freehold Studio in Seattle. I spent most of the Summer hoping and waiting to hear if I would be accepted into the 10 month program which would consume my life for its duration. I thought, “This is the answer to all my auditioning woes!” I was tired of not getting cast and thought this would be the solution: intense acting training, connections with Seattle theatre professionals, and a great addition to my resume! I was ecstatic when I WAS ACCEPTED! I was even more devastated when, two weeks later, the program was CANCELLED, due to lack of funds and participation. Back to square one! As I picked myself up off the floor, I tried to find meaning in the failure of this plan. This is what I learned.

  • Improve in (post performance) self-evaluation! You can’t go by what the auditors say, don’t say or whether or not you get cast. There are too many factors for any of that to be an accurate or helpful evaluation of how you did. Set a goal for yourself or pick one aspect of acting you are looking to improve and use that as your benchmark for your post-evaluation. If you met it, great! If you didn’t, you know what you need to work on for next time! (If you don’t see how or where you can improve, get over yourself. Everyone has areas in which they can improve. Seek the advice of a coach or director/actor friend you trust.) When you find areas for improvement, tell yourself….
  • “I may not be the best at ________, but I CAN get better!” I used to be so afraid of admitting a fault. If someone pointed out a flaw, I was crushed! As if, if I couldn’t do something now, I never would. FALSE. GET MORE TRAINING! There were all sorts of excuses I made for not getting more training, but it makes a HUGE difference. I thought a masters or intensive program would answer all my auditioning problems, which was false. However, desiring to improve and address certain areas was the best goal I could have made for myself. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to have picked one or two specific things on which I wanted to improve, pursued training, and noticed a difference in that area! And lastly…
  • Celebrate your successes AND your failures! Success is not just limited to booking a job; it’s any sort of acting breakthrough or achievement of a goal you set for yourself. YOU define success for yourself: going to that audition, taking that acting class, or approaching that agent who is just out of reach etc. And possibly most importantly, celebrate your failures. Why? Because you took a risk! If you take any sort of risk in life, you will fall. Your ultimate success is determined by how you handle that fall. Celebrate your effort and risk taking ability! How to celebrate? You choose. Have fun with it!

These revolutionary ideas have made this process a whole lot more enjoyable and is especially applicable as I make my transition into the LA market! Those people, who I thought had achieved perfection, were only working hard, never quitting, and personally investing in this career we call acting! Instead of beating myself up over missed opportunities and telling myself I will never join the actor elite, I have joined their ranks, not because I am at the top, but because I have decided to work hard, no matter what the cost or the result! The joy IS in the journey!