Monday, April 9, 2012

The Funny Phoenix

"It's slow."
That's what my manager keeps telling me every time I ask her why I'm not auditioning.  I know she's right (my brother, a producer, hasn't worked in LA in almost 2 years - he's in Louisiana right now), but the part of me that will stop at nothing to be a movie star won't accept that answer because what she's really telling me is that it's slow for actors like me - younger actors in the "up & coming" phase of their careers so-to-speak.  It's hard not to feel powerless at times like these; there are so many gatekeepers in this town who have assimilated into the lifestyle that forces them to follow a non-creative-status-quo way of doing business that limits risk, and keeps the same actors working over and over in order to keep profits [somewhat] predictable.  Taking a chance on a newcomer, even in a small role, is practically impossible.  So what do we get?  The Fast and The Furious 6 and a Total Recall remake; battle weary plots with the same old actors and built in box office.  And where does that leave actors like me?  Well, "it's slow."

I admit, though, I have my own status-quo way of doing things and that perhaps it might be time for me to take some of my own risks.  I've never been one to get bogged down in dismal thoughts of limitation; somewhere in the back of my mind I'm always moving forward.  If an actor can't find some way to stay mentally productive when they can't be physically productive they'll lose their minds, or quit.  That's why I produce, I write, I collaborate, I volunteer, but until now I've never risked the idea of "reinvention."  I used to think that reinvention was for people like Madonna, not me, but then I realized that what I was really saying was "reinvention is for people who want life spanning careers (like Madonna)."  Honestly, it just never occurred to me until a recent experience I had at an Oscar viewing party, when I realized that since it's slow for actors like me perhaps this would be a good time to break from that status-quo mentality and become a different kind of actor.

The viewing party was at a friend's house who happens to be an agent at CAA and also happened to invite one of his clients to watch with us.  I looked at my friend's client and I thought, here's a guy who has this amazing talent (singing) and he trained, and honed, and slaved away to become the best (he was nominated for a Tony when he was 22-years-old) and now he's sitting here, with me, watching the Oscars on TV.  I was suddenly struck by how equal we were in our abilities to accomplish what we wanted to in life, but unlike him, I had never bothered to train, and hone, and slave away at what I was good at.  Acting has always been a natural ability for me, something I've never had to work particularly hard on to know that I'm producing good work.  What I realized is that point-of-view had got me to "it's slow," and if I wanted things to change then I needed to take a bigger risk - ASAP!  That's when the epiphany happened: I love making people laugh + I need to hone a skill = I want to finish training at the Upright Citizens Brigade!  I took Improv 101 there about a year ago and I loved it, now I need to take 201, 301, and (what the hell) I'll take all 3 levels of sketch writing too.  Maybe I'll even end up in one of their companies, who knows?  So, even if things keep being "slow" at least I'll be doing something that makes me happy - making people laugh.

For some people this whole experience may seem a little dull and narcissistic (welcome to my blog), but I'm very excited about this, more excited than I've been about anything career-wise in a very long time.  I'm also afraid; improv and comedy, on a performance level anyway, are a bit out of my comfort zone, which makes this all the more thrilling (for me, anyway).  What better time than Spring to reinvent oneself?!?  After all, Spring is all about rebirth, new life, rising from the ashes, blah blah blah.

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