Monday, March 5, 2012

A Little Extra Sunshine

There are many reasons why I love living in Southern California.  Walking out my front door, I’m greeted by the smell of orange blossoms and jasmine, every major musical artist’s tour includes a stop in Los Angeles, and you can get fro-yo and world famous hot dogs until 3 am.  But most of all, it’s the sunny, 80-degree days in the middle of winter that really take the sting out of the fact that I’m miles away from my family.  This weekend I was apartment shopping in a sun dress fit for July, and I was still overheating.  It’s tough to be cranky when you’re viewing apartments with balconies shaded by palm trees.  My sincere apologies to anyone who’s bundled up to keep out the cold of these last few weeks of winter.  Come to LA and I’ll buy you a margarita and we’ll sit on a sun deck and watch that big ball of fire sink into the Pacific.

But the weather wasn’t the only sunshine in my world last week.  I had a private session with my coach to discuss headshots, career, skills, my next moves, et cetera.  While discussing the types of roles I should pursue, she stopped and said, “The camera loves your face; incredibly photogenic.  And you’re hugely talented.”

That statement hit me more than I expected it would. 

Look, I've trained hard enough and critiqued myself long enough to know that I'm good.  I don't need to hear it and I make damn sure that I’m not spending my days looking for approval or reassurance that I belong in this city.  I learned that lesson two years ago when I lost my confidence then realized that it didn't matter how gifted I was or how much I believed I should have been "discovered" for my talent already.  If I didn’t keep moving myself along, no one else was going to.  

One of the most important battles you will fight as an actor is to overcome the need to be told you have talent.  You have to just know deep down in your bones that you have what it takes -- in both talent and stamina -- because no one else will.  We all show up in LA thinking the golden gates will fly open and the red carpet will roll out once the gatekeepers see us… we’re special, we have talent, we have that star quality.  Then... everyone’s soul gets crushed when they realize that even immense talent only gets you so far.  If you're only able to find motivation when others fawn over your ability, you're ego will be dragging your confidence home in a body bag.  Trust me.  You could be Marlon Brando reincarnated, but in the beginning, you aren't ever going to get enough praise.  You may not even get more than a, "Great.  Thanks for coming in," while the casting director never looks up from his iPhone.

I've ingrained this philosophy into my career.  I must forge ahead, regardless of how many (or how few) pats my back receives.  And yet, I spent so much time convincing myself that I don’t need anyone’s approval, that I had forgotten how powerful those words can really be.  But I guess I'm human, because last week when one of the most sought-after acting coaches in Los Angeles looked at me and said I was hugely talented and beyond ready to book guest starring roles... it took my breath away.  Maybe I don't need it... but it sure is nice to hear every once in a while.  

I better get my hugely talented self to bed now.  Nighty-night.  :)

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