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Do What You’re Good At, Damn it.

I work from home on both Monday’s and Friday’s. That is how my company is set up. On these days it is just me, the cat, and my company-provided macbook pro, sitting at my table or in the comfy chair that’s too close to the TV, typing away. Sometimes I take Zumba in the morning or head to an audition in the afternoon and answer emails before and after. I glance at my blackberry and respond as needed. When I am in the office, I have my own office. My boss and co-workers are extremely smart and friendly. The kitchen is stocked with healthy snacks and my commute for the 3 days a week in the office is under 30 minutes with no subway transfers. My hours are around 10am-6pm. I’m also pretty damn good at what I do.

A lot of performers in this city insist that you cannot have a dayjob and still pursue a performance career. Um, yes you can. I audition all the time and submit myself for projects daily. I was upfront about being an actress/voice over talent/musical comedian in my interview. I was also upfront about how much I kick ass as an Executive Assistant and had the resume’ and references to prove it. My company gave me 4 weeks of vacation time my first year in order to, in their words, “pursue my creative goals outside of the office.” Before this, I spent a few too many long and torturous years in jobs where I didn’t belong and wasn’t respected until seeking out this dream position. It didn’t fall into my lap. I searched for it, interviewed 5 hours for it, and negotiated it before accepting. I have to respect their needs and get my work done, but that’s a give-in. I don’t need to lie to or try and take advantage of a company that is actually supporting me. I just do what I’m good at, and I’m good at this job.

Is it going to be hard to leave here it if my acting career takes off and I can no longer do both? Of course! It’s awesome here! Did I mention the snacks? However, if my prime time comedy sitcom debut comes calling (hint hint: Modern Family), I’ll answer. But right now this job is going to allow me to pay off my NYC-in-my-20’s debt, hold up my half of the bills, afford fantastic classes to further my acting skills and produce my own work. Long story short: Do what you’re good at. If you think you’d be an amazing receptionist/waiter/bartender/yoga instructor/nanny/teacher/chef /whatever go do it and make some money already. We don’t all have to be starving just to be artists. Having money in your savings account is not going to turn you into a greedy monster with dollar signs for eyes. If you’re an actor, you already know new headshots and improv classes can be expensive, so get a move on and hit the pavement (craigslist/monster/mediabistro/recruitment firms/actual pavement.) Don’t spend too much time on the “what’s if’s” about the future and especially the “what others say” either and pave your own path, damn it. We’re not getting any younger.

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11 responses »

  1. GREAT! I love the title of your blog too 🙂 After studying to be a performer and loving the arts for much of my young life, the one thing I knew I was good at besides theatre was rockin’ the espresso bar as a barista and teaching children. I love being a teacher and I set out very diligently to work with kids when I was 24, and here I am, a teacher for 6 years. Now I feel I can incorporate all the things I love about theatre and creative life into a teaching practice. You never know what you’ll find if you just stick to your gut and what you know makes you smile each day (kids make me smile). The culmination of all I love is the best reward for me. Also, I’ve always said as an actor to other potential actors…”If you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else besides acting (being an artist), go for it. If you can imagine doing something else, do it. Try it. You never know”

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  2. Ooooooooooohhhhhh something to read that actually inspires me! Your blog is all about me. You are my guru. Wait, I missed the point. Great post and so true. Off to make, bottle and sell salsa…

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  3. AMEN GIRL!

    I feel like I’m finally doing what you tell me to do. It’s mostly because you put me here. Thanks Guru!

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  4. Oh wait, no. Not Guru Not Guru. I’m going to have trouble with this. I live under the learning curve.

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  5. Um I could not agree more with this. And it is darn nice to hear someone else saying it. Having just got my real estate license, all my friends are like “so you’re not gonna be a singer anymore” and I’m like “as if”. Now I hopefully with have the cash flow to pay for the publicist that will get my music heard by th grey’s anatomy music suprivisors and I can actually make some money off my music. People never seem to realize it takes money to make money. And when it doesn’t, that’s called winning the lottery. And the chances of that are 1 in a million and I’m not willing to play with my career on those odds. Thank you for writing this!

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    • Shanna, I am so glad you feel me on this! Please share this entry, then maybe folks will stop asking! I can’t wait to buy the next Grey’s soundtrack just because you’re on it!

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  6. Spot on! My eyes sometimes hurt from rolling them so much at actors who think it is somehow a romantic notion to not be able to pay rent (or for tickets to RENT). I am an actor, website owner, adjunct college professor, and waiter. And the not-so-weird thing is, it is the stuff I do outside of auditions that usually garners me the most work because I get to KNOW other actors and constantly meet new and interesting people in the biz. I have meet many Broadway producers from waiting tables in a swanky steakhouse, and one or two know me well enough that we chat about shows. Do they call me in for auditions? Of course not, that stuff is for fairy tales. But, should fate place me in front of them for an actual audition, I now have leg up on the competition because they have actually talked to me before. I think that is pretty cool. I took a and a half off of actual acting to start Audition Update and now it has generated more industry contacts in the last nine months than I got in the previous four years auditioning. The most interesting actors I know have OTHER THINGS GOING ON IN THEIR WORLD!
    I also just started a blog for Audition Update where I not only write but also invite guest bloggers (hint, hint). A recent post from guest blogger Angela Vida was on a similar topic. you can read it here: http://auditionupdate.blogspot.com/2011/05/actress-singer-writerjuggler-coping.html
    Congrats on a great initial post.

    Reply
  7. LOVE this entry! I nanny and teach voice to help pay the bills while I work on making performing and songwriting my main income. I very much enjoy both, 90% of the time. Compared to when I was trapped in cubicles following orders and MISERABLE 90% of the time, I will certainly take it!

    Reply

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