Thursday, November 8, 2012

You Want a JOB? (Gasp!)

WARNING: the following paragraph may be too raw for some in the industry (side note that this the only thing I have in common with ODB, I like it raw.)

Excuse me?

What did you say to me?

You want a...what? A job?.....A JOB?!

Sssh! Don't tell anyone that. Don't tell ANYone that you want a job. No, actors that want jobs, that talk about wanting jobs and call their agents and managers expressing that they want, that they NEED, work only come across as desperate.  Don't talk about needing a job.  No one will want you if you are too eager. People, directors, casting directors, agents - they only want people they CAN'T HAVE, so you can't go around talking about wanting work or a job or an acting opportunity because you will STINK of desperation and they will automatically think you are talentless and worthless. It's a turn off. That energy will crush you. Los Angeles will discard you faster than a chewing gum wrapper. You know what? You can't want it so much. That energy will repel you from work. You have to let it go. You have to sit back and let the universe do its work. Otherwise, the universe will run away screaming. Imagine the solar system spitting you out over by Pluto, that sorry little ex-planet.  No, let it go. Just...LET IT GO.


Some actors follow a formula for success out here in LA.  They believe that a stalwart commitment to the following steps will lead them to time. Could be a year (riiiiiight), two years, five years, ten years, fifteen years. It will happen eventually.  Get headshots, get a job with a flexible schedule (waiting tables, catering), do extra work, join the union, get a website, start your social media engines and tweet, post, blog 'n' build, get a gym membership, get a commercial agent, theatrical agent, perhaps a manager, send them candy, flowers, wine, postcards, do workshops, do showcases, go to acting class, get a coach, write your own web series and direct/star in it, take meetings wherever you can, explore all opportunities no matter how shady, keep your skirt down, tell people you have a boyfriend - wait, don't they want what they can't have, why that's fuel on the fire!, don't mix professional with personal even though this entire town mixes pleasure into business and vice versa it is the way of Hollywood, don't go to an audition with curly hair if your headshots have straight hair, don't change your look at ALL according to your headshot, dress like this actress cause she's really hot right now, don't say THAT in that meeting or you'll piss them off, don't call your agent to ask why you haven't heard from them in a month, don't pester your agent, don't ask questions, don't be naive, don't do a thing, but stand there and look pretty!

The do's turn quickly into don'ts.  The optimism can sour fast under the negative atmosphere. The heat is more like an inferno and will not only drive you out of the kitchen, but outta this town.

Here is what I am learning: there are no black and white agendas leading to success. LA is the land of opportunity.  Many of those opportunities are rotten, one-way alleys that can entrap you by those who take advantage of other people.  But you toughen up, you learn, you work to remain grounded and strong and whole while in a full-fledged battleground of people stepping on you with six inch stilettos and not giving a DAMN if it pokes your eye out. The challenge out here is HIGHLY DEMANDING.  The dreams out here are BIG and OVERWHELMING. The paths to get where you want to go are DARK and DANGEROUS with the eventual pocket of light and hope, but YOU must be the one to carry the hope. No one is holding a candle for you. If they are, you are certainly a fortunate one. Human nature, however, surprises everyone. That doesn't mean you can't build a support system - in fact, you should try so as to avoid being a recluse left with only your own thoughts to keep you company.

I've been given a billion pieces of advice since moving here. I am still being guided by some here and some there, taking words with grains (or truckloads) of salt. It's true that you can't NEED a job so badly that your energy and happiness depends on it (like Ailie waiting on Mungo in Water Music).  Of course you can WANT it. But you transfer that want into your work, into your commitment to improving and to making your instrument and your acting great.  Are you already a great actor? Good for you.  But you're a fool if you think that what you have now is enough. It is never "enough". The hunger that drives us to act should remain insatiable. Is it possible to master something so completely that you need never practice it again? Is it possible that you are even NEAR that stage? Why do you act if you don't want to conquer it? And even if the tools of your acting are perfectly honed, do you not have to begin again and again with the start of every role? 

Los Angeles is the rosebush of the world; stunningly gorgeous and yet completely treacherous to fall into.

Don't get me wrong, I love the challenge of this city, though I come from a tiny little town further away from the industry than one could possibly imagine. I love the competition though I abhor the relentless frustration. I love the ideas, the creativity and the dreams yet I consistently struggle with my lack of control. The letting go is important - accepting the lack of control and riding the waves out.  Doing what you can until the universe takes over and then allowing it to happen. Knowing when to step back, training your senses to be keen to these moments and these instincts so as to allow good things to come through. And also, having fun - even at the risk of breaking a "don't" rule that came from your agent or your mother or your childhood.

After three years, I speak pretty good La-La, but I can always get better. Discussion, comments and rantings welcome.

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