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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Digging Deep for an Actor's Values

It's safe to say, that a large majority of the actors hustling to book "the big gig" or "commercial that will change your career, life, and bank account", spend most of their time hustling at another job to make ends meet.  It's also safe to say that a majority of those, "said jobs", don't really stimulate actors' minds.  Restaurants, retail, coffee shops, temp work, catering, marketing promotions (only if you are smoking hot for this last one), etc.  The list goes on.  Basically, you're at the mercy of many numb skulls, who think they are way too entitled, and who somehow can conjure up the courage to berate you or humiliate you publicly, because deep in the back of their puny, puto-head, minds, they know, (unless you are a sociopath) that you can't do an f'n thing about it.  You will lose your job if you talk back or dare to threaten them.  This happens in the temping world too. Instead of a bone headed customer, you have a bone headed manager, that thinks they are way smarter than you.  They will hang over your head that you can be replaced with a phone call, and bye bye $10 an hour job with no health insurance, which includes an hour to hour and a half commute each way...every day.  Yay! I want to be an actor!  Right?  Of course you do!

Lately, my mind has been burning with the same question: "Why do you put yourself through this?" It's been pretty stressful lately.  Jobs and opportunities seem to be few and far between.  Auditions happen at any God-given hour with less notice and time to prepare.  Yeah. Hate that shit!  I've turned down two auditions recently.  I also could not go to one, because I was scheduled to work at the hour they were holding the auditions.  I thought going in early would be cool, but they needed groups to cast a family. The casting director wasn't seeing the groups in my category until later in the evening. I was upset, but what could I do?  It sucks big huevos! Don't get me wrong, I'll give up a shift from time to time to go to an audition, but this can't happen more than a few times a month.  Casting directors aren't going to pay the expensive ass smart phone plan that I need to have to be able to confirm an audition at any given time from anywhere in the world.  They ain't paying my gas that my trusty, old, bucket eats up, so that I can commute to auditions and to the good, ol', J.O.B. 

I think about why we put ourselves through the torture, and try to figure out if there is some formula or cosmic pull in our genes that gravitates us actors to this deep desire to bare our souls for others to watch and be affected emotionally, and be in awe of our talent, and bathe us in rose petals and applause.  Hooray!!!! This pull that brings us to one of life's ultimate paradoxes: You're damned if  you do, and you're damned if you don't!  Why? Why? Why?  I read somewhere online, that for actors it's like breathing air; A NECESSITY (say this with a Shakespearean flair).  Whether or not we are on an actual, film, television, or commercial, set, or a doing theater, shorts, and independent projects for food and credit only; there is something about the craft that we love so much that we are willing to tread through that uphill mudslide, just to get a taste of that sweet water of creativity.  Not gonna lie, the allure of making enough money to make a living so that all you can do is work on your career, be in classes, and produce projects is a big incentive.  What actor doesn't want that?  However, when you get that point, there will be other obstacles to deal with on a whole different level, that will make you wish you were at the level up above you. Once you go up the ladder, the grass is probably always going to be greener.  

So what is the solution?  Corny as this may sound: Love and Joy for the work and the moment you are in.  I spend most of my time at my J.O.B., and the commute is a pain in the Nalgas. But, it pays my bills and I have health insurance.  Very important!  What I'm bringing up with the whole "Love and Joy" is that it's crucial for actors, and artists in general, to have core values about their craft.  It helps us map out where we go in our lives and our growth as artists.  I work for a very popular, "national chain of neighborhood, grocery stores".  They are abundant in Los Angeles.  Everybody says that they "LOOOOOVVVVEEE" shopping at their local location.  The company is hugely successful.  One thing that they emphasize to the crew is for us to know the company's "Core Values" and their "Mission Statement".  Here I am, working for a very successful, company, that keeps growing in locations and sales every year.  This company is always referenced in the top finance and business magazines, praising their business model.  It hit me like a sack of potatoes, the ones I just stocked on the shelf, that if I want to emulate this kind of growth and financial success in my acting career; I should probably consider declaring some core values.  The company I work for has 7.  That seems like a good number, since my birthday falls on a multiple of 7, and if you multiply 7 by the number in the order of the calendar year that my birth month falls in, you get the day of my birth.  Anyways, I'll start with a couple for now: 1.Create for the Love and Joy of the work 2. Live in the present.  I know that I mentioned emulating a company with financial success, and yadda, yadda, yadda.  That's not my ultimate end, but it would be nice to only live off creating work for the love and joy of it.  Happy hustling homies!