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What’s the F#%kin Point?

February 6, 2013

It’s been 9 and a half years since I moved to NY. 7 years, 8 months since I finished “school” here in NYC (I went to college before moving here). I had some great runs of booking commercials, shows, and tiny parts on TV shows that always seem to get cut. I have made a living on my own for 7 years on my terms. Now I am 33, I am married, my only survival job is moot at this cold time of year, my “manager” can’t get me seen for even the crappy roles and the only commercial audition I had in the last 3 months was cancelled so they could rewrite the character I was going in for.

I’ve dropped off more than 150 resumes to restaurants and bars (I have 4-5 years NYC experience bartending and waiting).  I have done 50-75 “real” job applications online, tailoring cover letters and researching places to further explain how I meet their “needs.” I see anywhere from 3-10 roles per week with casting directors I know, or know would consider me that I pursue in one way or another. From all these combined work pursuit endeavors I have had 2 total interviews, zero jobs, (and neither of the interviews were auditions).

The point I am making is, what’s the f$#kin point? They said in theater school (“they” being every teacher who failed in this profession first) that “if you can do anything else, do it.” They also said, “it will take time, but if you pay your dues and work, and grow and get better, you will succeed in this business.”  Maybe I am being presumptuous, but I am beginning to think they were full of it in every way. Please don’t read this blog as my “goodbye” to this business, or think I need some sort of consoling or pat on the back, I really don’t (well maybe just like a beer’s worth). Every real job application I have submitted, (and the one interview I had), I either hid my acting career or tried to spin it in a “I’ll be really great for your company due to my experience in one of the hardest professions there is,” kind of way. Whether people believe it, completely dismiss it or just see right through the lie is something I will never know. I can’t do anything else, the universe won’t let me!

To quote Avenue Q “I have no skills yet.” OK I have skills, and I believe someone who has put in the effort and time into this business I have would excel in so many other professions due to the pure familiarity with rejection, persistence and endurance. But I don’t think other people see that. I don’t think people outside of our profession can really understand at all what we deal with day-to-day, week to week, rejection to rejection. The character, the gumption, the thick skin we develop becomes useful only in it becoming something we can use to protect us from ourselves. That may make no sense to you, or all the sense in the world. I can’t get a restaurant job, I can’t get a real job, I can’t get an acting job. Maybe it’s just a bad stretch, maybe timing is just off for me in every aspect right now, I just can’t figure out the point of what I can do, if I can’t do it. I’m sure it will be clear soon. Maybe the reason I can’t get a restaurant or real job is because the universe is preventing me from falling into something that can sabotage my career, maybe “little” acting work hasn’t come along, cause something huge will, maybe it’s all random, or maybe I need to become a plumber. I just don’t know what the point of anything is. Have you ever felt like this?


8 Comments leave one →
  1. The Reflective Artist permalink
    February 6, 2013 11:35 am

    To answer your final question: Yes. I have. I do. I also appreciate the fact that I have not put in the man hours you have (reading this was actually very humbling for me, who has been down on the professional setbacks for a bit, probably more than I’ve earned the right to), and a lot of other people probably haven’t either. I know that may be of little comfort right now, especially since you’ve remarked that you aren’t really looking for that. But you’re not alone, and it sounds like you’ve taken all the action you’re supposed to, and are capable of. And that’s all you can do. It’s not a very satisfying answer, I know, and doesn’t garner a “result,” per say. But maybe all you can do is take comfort in the knowledge that you ARE doing the right things.

    The bottom line is: you can quit. You actually can, at any time. Quitting is always an option. You have to ask yourself what would ultimately be harder: living through this period of time (which is most likely transitory) or quitting? Again, not so satisfying. But there’s something there.

  2. The College Theatre Dork permalink
    February 6, 2013 1:21 pm

    I was told once by a professor that out of acting, writing, house management and tarot readings, I was going to be most likely successful with tarot.

    I’m not even out of college and into the real world yet, and I already have these days (and much longer periods). Audition, audition, audition…still never cast. There are number of reasons why you shouldn’t be cast but after awhile, you do wonder if you are that reason. Or if the real reason is that the Universe stepped in to get you where you really needed to be. The hard part, I think, is hearing the answer to that question, not once you do when you know the answer.

    Strangely, I found your blog post comforting. Nearly 10 years, the fact you were able to making a living, any kind of living doing whatever, is a small hope.

    P.S. should you go through with becoming a plumber, I have some pipes that need fixing!

  3. February 6, 2013 3:21 pm

    We allllll feel this way, depending on the day, so you’ll find nothing but sad smiling and nodding here.

    I think the important part, if you do decide that staying in the biz is the right option, is not to get bitter (I’m saying this as much for myself to hear it again as for you to). I read something the other day about how CDs can literally smell the actor bitterness, and it’s just not an attractive quality.

    At any rate, you can always come here to vent 🙂

  4. February 6, 2013 3:32 pm

    Oddly enough I was just talking about this with my boyfriend (who is and actor) AND reading about it in a textbook for an Acting Pedagogy class I’m taking. All actors go through it at some point since it IS so hard to have a career as an actors (or anything in the arts for that matter). However, if you love the craft, do your prep work (like studying different time periods, characters, etc.), and work hard, then you have the chance to make it out there. He titled the chapter “L’Envoi” which translated means “the ball is in YOUR court.” 🙂

  5. February 6, 2013 3:49 pm

    I don’t think I can add much more to what have already been said here in the comments. I can just nod and agree and join the club.

    I’d just like to congratulate you for surviving nearly 10 years in this biz, I know you are not quitting, but this is an amazing achievement and for someone like me, who is still at the beginning of my journey not knowing what’s ahead, reading that someone managed this kind of lifestyle for this long so far, gives me the hope that it IS possible.

    I’ve read that article about bitterness too. Must read material! Here’s the link for everyone:

  6. February 6, 2013 5:36 pm

    What has been the most empowering thing for me as an actor has been producing my own work. It put the reigns in my hands and gave me so much pleasure and confidence. I made my own project happen and it was awesome. Consider it! I highly recommend Molly Pearson, who teaches amazing classes.

  7. The Growing Artist permalink
    February 9, 2013 2:07 pm

    I agree with all the comments to this post. I have been feeling this way a lot recently. I know it must have been difficult for you to write this post, but I really appreciate your honesty! This biz is extremely difficult. Most times it is worth it, but it’s a long journey. You are not alone. One thing I can definitely relate to is your struggle to find a survival job. I am currently stuck in a dead-end, low-paying, unfulfilling survival job just so I can have the opportunity to be in this career. I can’t imagine my life without acting. Again, you’re not alone.

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