Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Only one thing endures and that is character

To start out with, I'm trying to be more positive. When I wrote this post, it was very negative initially, and I don't want to be negative. I was highly frustrated when I first wrote it and I had to redraft it. I do get angry (and for good reason) but it's not something I want controlling my life. I try to keep in mind that anger is not synonymous with negativity. It has its purpose and it helps positively when you channel it correctly. So, I'm trying that here.
Alright, so if you know me at all, you know that I do act and audition around Nashville for different film and television projects. Most of the time, I'm an extra without lines. I should be so lucky to get that kind of role, but I'm happy with what I can get. On this particular night, I was an extra on a TV show filmed around Nashville that has a lot of music and musician-centered storylines. Ahem, you know which one I'm talking about although I'm not saying it.
I spent most of the night working on my cross stitch and meeting new people in the extras holding area, nibbling on goodies from the Craft Services table. It was fun. But as we were lining up to go into the set, a heavy-set woman behind me said. "they won't cast heavy girls, even if they can sing and act!"
I smiled politely and nodded. "Yeah," I agreed. "I feel ya on that!"
That was a huge mistake. The next thing I knew, she had pretty much cornered me and was talking about her experiences and how hard she had worked, and how much she was owed something in film and music, and blah blah blah. She didn't even ask my name or how I felt or my opinion, which I thought was bad conversation skills. I was just a sounding board. She told me that she had worked really hard at a show business company as an intern, only to get skipped on when it ended, but the thinner people got it. And then she went on to tell me about how she had been an extra on a show for the same production company where she watched the director pick out "apples" and then, when she thought about it, they were thin and young and pretty, and they were put up on the front.
I felt trapped. All she was doing was dwelling on things that happened years ago. We were all hired to play a part, and this woman was being incredibly unprofessional complaining on the job. We're hired to show up and play a role, and that's it.
Honestly, if you get angry and go on and on and on about how you were wronged years ago, let me say, let that shiz go. It scares me to think I could sit there and replay in my head these bad things daily so often that it consumes my every waking thought. I feel bad for people like that. Sure, I've been wronged for things I felt were unfair. Yeah, it bugged me for a while, but I let my other passions consume my mind instead and the hurt waned. And when I thought about it a year later, it didn't make me so angry anymore. I feel so much better about this.
If you're going to complain to every person that you talk to about how much you deserved a role in your high school play that you never got or how much you deserved the part for showing up, I don't really have a ton of sympathy for that mindset. More than anything, I just feel sorry for you for being so attached to that pain and that it still runs on a repeat in your head. Nobody cares if you have a degree in theatre (guilty) or if you did a couple of shows at the same location ten years ago (also guilty). Those things have never made a difference for me. All they care about is the present. And in show business, peoples' memories can be short because the next young, attractive young thing is eager to snap up your role and not complain. Show business is unapologetic about this. For every person who quits because they think they were wronged, another 100 people are lined up to take their place and do a better show with less expectations. And nobody really gets anywhere in the film industry by accident. I've also found there is nothing worse than unprofessional people, especially in acting.
I'm not looking for stardom or appreciation in acting. I have fun and I love to act and get dressed up. I don't think I'll ever be able to feed myself and put a roof over my head from acting, though. But that's okay. It's just a little something for me.
I have a magnet on my fridge that says "Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character." (Horace Greeley). I believe in that and I love this phrase. It just reminds me that bad behavior, ungratefulness, and a complete lack of humility can make fans turn on stars in a heartbeat. The fans' love and adoration is not going to make up for any love they were lacking as a child that turned into the pain that's followed said performer into their adulthoods. This is why you see so many former stars having problems with substances and depression when they lose their fame.
Fame is fleeting. It's nice and it has perks, but those perks are short-lived, unless you're really lucky. The phone stops ringing one day, and you need to have built relationships outside of acting or performing to fall back on and to build yourself up from. If you can, I'd recommend financially planning for that day. I personally can't.
I get annoyed when people say, "Nobody owes you anything", but I can't help but agree with it in acting. Nobody does owe you anything, especially not because you showed up, and especially not when it comes to the acting world. You're either there and grateful for the privilege, or you're gone and banished from people's minds.
With performing, remember: it's a privilege, not a right.