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.

Making It Happen!

Looking back over this year, it has been quite a roller coaster.

Personally, it has been one of the hardest years in a lot of ways. Almost a year ago exactly, my husband and I made the decision for me to come down to LA and give my acting career here a try. I quite my job of two and a half years on December 31, 2012 and haven’t had a steady income since. January 30, 2013, we moved out of our apartment in Seattle and have lived with parents and various roommates for the past 11 months. We’ve spent over four months apart from each other and have struggled with how to make this long-distance, dual-city thing work.  Many answers to the questions of our future are still unknown.

Professionally speaking, I didn’t book any major commercials, feature films or any roles on television; I didn’t get cast at any of my goal theatres; many goals are still waiting to be accomplished.

A year ago I had no idea what would come of 2013, but I did make a promise to myself that I would act with courage. Even without reaching any of those major bench marks, I have to say that acting with courage is one thing I DID accomplish this year.

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My reflections today have less to do with what goals I achieved and more to do with how I’ve grown. The way I listed the sequence of events above and talked about my lack of accomplishments probably sounds like I feel like a failure. On the contrary, I’m oddly okay with what this year has been. There have been some incredible moments and all the change and uncertainty has brought about an unexpected peace about who, and where, I am at this point in my life. By swapping environments and shaking things up a bit, I’ve been able to see the constants, all the factors that remain the same. Perceptions have been dispelled. Desires heightened. Methods refined. Goals clarified. It isn’t exactly the scientific method, but I’m starting to see the evidence that points to the truth.

What is the truth? When it comes to my career, the truth is that I will always be acting and making art. And to do that, I’ve learned that, no matter what…

I’VE GOT TO MAKE IT HAPPEN!

By that I don’t mean strong-arm something or believe a lie. What I mean is that if it isn’t happening, don’t wait around… make it happen. Duh! I think until this year I believed the only thing I could to as an actor to get work was to audition. WRONG. There is so much more.

Acting2013CollageJust look at the projects I DID do this year: one play, a play festival, and four short films. Two out of five I auditioned for(cold-turkey); two I had to go out of my way to get connected or make happen, and two were because people I already knew asked me to do it.

33.3% from auditions

33.3% from my own initiative

33.3% from knowing someone

Although those percentages will fluctuate, the ratio is pretty telling. We have to get out there, get to know people, and make things happen.

Over the years I’ve had ideas for projects, but executing them hasn’t always been a priority. Now I’m seeing where I thought auditioning(and marketing) was the focus, that’s only part of the picture.  In the last few months I’ve taken some significant steps in executing a plan for my own projects and you know what? I’M LOVING IT! Of course it comes with it’s own set of challenges, but not only is it exciting to see these ideas take shape, it takes some of the pressure off of auditioning. I don’t HAVE to book something when I have other creative things going on. It is so rewarding to take the initiative, start building a team of people with whom I love to work, and make some art. It’s the best!

Just take a hint from these 8 Actresses Who Wrote Complex, Female Roles For Themselves. They are my heroes. Their stories are so inspiring. Wherever I am, whatever this new year brings, I know I will be going out there and making things happen!

What about you? Want to join me!?!

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!