I've been here in Los Angeles for just shy of six years. In those six years I've chased this dream with varying degrees of intensity. Some years I was green and tentative and eager to please. For some years I was angry and discouraged and withdrew from the hustle completely. Still others I was centered and confident and ready. I've spent six years of my life noticing the doubt behind other peoples' eyes, and even more difficult, I've spent six years facing or swallowing my own. In six years I've been asked the same sequence of questions nearly as many times as I've been asked my name:
"What do you do?"
"Oh, I'm an actor."
"Oh yeah? What have you been in?"
This seemingly innocent question inevitably follows any declaration from me about my chosen career. I end up stammering about how I've done a bunch (six years worth) of obscure, independent projects -- which admittedly is code for
barely paid unpaid and unlikely impossible to have been seen. No one says it, but they don't have to. Every actor has seen it... maybe it's a slightly raised brow or the tiniest of eye rolls. It's almost imperceptible to the untrained, non-actor eye. But it's there, I've seen it for the last six years of my life. It's a dismiss. To everyone outside this business -- and most of the people in it -- you're not really an actor until you've done something people recognize. You may as well be claiming to be an alien from Mars. Until you show some bona-fide space rock, no one is going to buy it.
Today has been the first time in six years that it's been different for me. Jaws dropped and eyes widened when I shared the news. No smirks. No eye rolls. No dismissals. Just mounds of congratulations and countless Facebook "likes". I know in the end it doesn't matter what anyone thinks, but it was so special to finally have something "to show" for the last six years of my life. Some teeny bit of evidence that I'm not crazy, that I can actually do this, that it just might be possible. For once, I didn't have to put on my armor and guard my heart and soul from the endless judgment and dismissal from everyone around me. Trust me, the load of our own self-doubt is sufficiently difficult to bear.
You should just sit back and wait. I'm only getting started.