Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Never-Ending Education on The Acting Biz

Reality Check. The majority of actors are working class union members doing their best to make ends meet.  Thanks to pre-merger SAG/AFTRA rivalries, contracts negotiated during the last contract bargaining period with the "studios" was not exactly great for the average actor. And if you haven't noticed, the financial crisis hit a lot of the A-listers hard. Folks lost money. Money for films dried up and name actors who once wouldn't dream of doing television are now sprinkling the airwaves with network/cable shows or guest appearances. Naturally the creative food chain being what it is, competition for every kind of role is fierce.

This is not a complaint. Honest. I am blessed to be pursuing my dreams in life. I live by the philosophy that what is right for me will find its way into my life. All I can do is always strive to do my best work, build relationships where I can, and keep sane during the down times which can be long and draining.

Part of my "sanity strategy" is self-education. Reading a theatrical contract is frankly boring but I know there is so much I know I don't know that I have to try. In terms of building my "brand", I had a writer buddy create a bio to post to my IMDB page.  It may not seem like much but like with any career you need to do all those "career-building" actions that you learn on your journey and hope the investment in yourself pays off one day.:)

My other "sanity strategy" is building up my work as an acting coach. It is a definite balancing act coaching others as I work on my own career. However, it is better to have your side job keep you working creatively than doing work that drains your spirit. I actually like helping my clients give their best audition and grow their careers. It keeps my skills sharp and my mind focused.

I may be missing a bit of my "rah rah" about my acting career, but the slow and steady mental transition to viewing my career as my small business enterprise is helping to ground me in reality with a sense of peace instead of depression. That's gotta count for something. 


Discovering My Local Farmer's Market

Life is good. I am slowly starting to feel the benefits of eating a predominately plant based diet.  I made the choice to lean in the direction of a vegetarian life choice while appreciating unparalleled joy of munching on a delicious chicken breast or they fabulous array of seafood available fresh or frozen from my favorite place to shop- the 99 Ranch Market!

I found the key was stumbling upon my local farmer's market a few Saturdays ago. I bought some fresh organic beets and organic purple kale. In all honesty I never saw much of a difference buying organic at the store versus the regular version. However, this farmer's market stuff tastes so rich in flavor, I plan to add them to my weekly shopping routine. It's a win win. I am helping the local economy and the vegetables I am getting make eating healthy less of a drudgery. I am not committing to all organic all the time, but I am open to exploring different organic fruit and vegetable options. It is refreshing to actually enjoy awakening my taste buds with food I don't have to feel guilty about five minutes later.

Again, the "leaning in approach" is working with my personality 'cause I am not trying to revamp everything at once just subtly adjusting things. I have noticed I am feeling a little more energy and pep in my step. In time, a noticeable weight loss would be appreciated:)



Friday, March 8, 2013

Choosing Your Responses To Life's Little Hiccups.

I discovered something very interesting Thursday afternoon. I think I always knew it but it was so striking when it happened yesterday that I literally had to take a minute to shake it off.

I am Artistic Director of an acting group that meets on Tuesday evenings. We rent a studio space from a lady in her late fifties, I would guess, who was a working actress but I believe now focuses on teaching and coaching. On her website she seems like a very positive lovely lady. Yesterday however, I met someone quite different.

Apparently, when we used her studio TV to view our taped scene work, a button was pressed that turned on the auto input sensory. I am no tech whiz but this disabled the connection with the HDMI cable. Two days later, as she prepared for her 6pm class she could not figure out how to work her television and freaked out. She called demanding that we fix her television. I was just finishing with an audition when I got a call to go straighten things out.

I headed over and with all the charm I could muster I apologized if we messed anything up with the television and promised to fix it. She showed me the problem and started stressing that she had a class at 6pm and they pay her a lot of money and I need to fix her television. I searched every button trying to solve the problem. She left in a panic again telling me I need to fix this problem by 6pm! As it turned out I found the problem by simply going to the settings menu and turned the auto input sensor button off. I tried calling her to tell her the problem was solved. She didn't answer. I left a message. She called back as if she never listened to my message again screaming I needed to fix her television or buy her another. I told her I solved the problem and wanted to show her how to handle it herself should she find herself in this situation again.

Twenty five minutes later she arrived as her class was about to start. Her students were outside. I could hear her chatting away just as friendly as can be. She came in smiling and said, I know you are waiting be with you in a minute. I waited. She returned I said it was a simple fix and she and I were just not tech savvy so it took me time to find it. She smiled.  I walked her through it. As soon as it was done, she pointed at me and said, "I do not want you guys to use my television. period!"  I said "Sure. No problem. Sorry for the inconvenience." She said,  "If it doesn't work I will call you. God this was all so stressful."

I went home and I literally had to take a walk with my dog Rusty and consciously release all of the negative energy she vomited all over me as I was in her presence.

Granted, at some point in our using the television we MAY have pressed a button that caused the problem. I do not dispute this possibility. Nevertheless it was accidental. What I was taken aback by was how intensely hostile and negative this woman became in her choice of response. At the most, she lost some time preparing for class. Her class started on time and I received no phone calls so the problem was solved.   

The life lesson I learned? The energy we put out to the world affects those around you. I came to this woman with positivity and an attempt to be calming but she was on a negativity spiral and I see now that when you encounter folks like this, it helps to protect yourself and if it gets into you, shake that crap off quickly.

Moments before dealing with her, I was on an "acting high", feeling great about my audition. In moments, I felt sucked dry off all energy.  I hold no judgements of her and her right to feel what she feels when she thinks her income is being threatened but, man. It cannot be healthy responding to life's minor hiccups in that way.

It's times like this when I realize you are not a slave to your emotions, you choose your responses to life events. Best to choose wisely or you will suck the joy out of living.