Every actor I know, and mind you, there are so many I don’t know, has struggled with striking a balance between supporting themselves financially, and pursuing their dream. When I began my journey to become an artist, I began skeptically, and I had a backup plan ready to go should I feel I wasn’t cut out for the life of an actor. But a year into my training at Stella Adler, I realized that in order to become an artist, you must commit fully to what you’re doing, because ultimately, talent is not enough. Belief and drive will take you much further than talent ever can. So I jumped with my two feet into actor training, and I never looked back. I’d been offered full time day jobs by reputable companies, and the idea of a 9-6, 40K +/ year and health benefits tickled me, but it was nothing more than a tickle. I wasn’t going to sacrifice my journey as an artist for any unnecessary comforts. And, I’d been working since the day I stepped out of training. Things have moved forward since.
This coming June will mark 3 years since I graduated from Adler, and circumstances have changed. I very much love acting and I’m still working, and still none of my acting jobs sustain any sort of independent living. I’ve maintained a regular day job that I mostly enjoy, that is flexible, understanding, and allows me to work as an actor, which is great. Recently, that job has offered me a hefty promotion, and the perks are pretty serious. And I’m faced with a really tough decision. To allow myself to make some substantial money for a little while and invest less time in my acting career for a bit, or stay the course. Mind you, I’ll never give up acting. Never.
And this job offer was much more than tantalizing. And it’s challenged me to take steps I’d never thought I’d take. Jumps in fact. I jumped out of an airplane and went skydiving on a manager’s conference. I was fairly certain I wouldn’t jump before I got to the conference. Next thing you know, I’m cool as a cucumber free falling out of this tiny little plane. The temptations of financial stability and the opportunity to enjoy life different from how I have the past few years, have been working on me. It’s such a strange dilemma. I feel like if I pursue the day job more than acting, that I’m giving up a piece of me. Yet, I feel that if I fight what has been basically dropped in my lap, I’m going against part of what it means to be an artist and a human being- which is to allow life’s circumstances to work on me.
On the other hand, I feel I can do both. And so while I’ve been canceling auditions and turning down a few gigs over the last two months, I feel that after getting used to the new responsibilities, I can once again work my tail off to both make a more than decent living, and kick butt in my acting career. Talent only goes so far. Belief and drive will take me as far as I want to go.
I’m leaving for Texas tomorrow morning for work, where I’ll be training others the art of pitching. We demonstrate mandolin slicers and knives in grocery stores and big retail stores. I’ll be in Texas for a month. While I’m there, I will be doing very little, if no audition searching. It will be a wonderful learning opportunity. Learning about the new job, learning about how it makes me feel to pursue it more fully, and how it feels to pursue acting less. But it’s only a month.
Thankfully, I’ve got a very exciting theatre job lined up for this summer…. More details to follow as it gets closer. But… I’ll be acting internationally!
If you’ve made it through this entire post, you’re a trooper. Thank you. And if you’ve gone through a similar experience, I encourage you to share your thoughts. We’re all in this life together.