How Stacey Got Her Groove Back
About two months ago, I wrote that I was seriously thinking about leaving the business and that I was taking a break from acting. I wasn't being dramatic; I believed it was the beginning of the end and although it was heartbreaking to admit, I was already heartbroken and downtrodden and just...tired, I guess. I can't even go into the mess of how I got there and why I felt abandoned by my dreams--and some of the people around me. I was a shell of the annoyingly positive girl that my friends were accustomed to and a lot of people wanted to sit me down and talk me back into it or assess my marketing skills or suggest careers that they saw me doing more so than acting. I truly thank everyone who reached out to me and apologize if I wasn't open to certain discussions, but I was on a personal crusade, of sorts, and I'm here to tell you that I've got my groove back. I still haven't perused the breakdowns, submitted myself for a job, or kicked it into high gear but I'm ready to make it happen next month and I believe it's all possible again.
How did I get there, you ask? Or maybe you didn't, but hey, I'm going to tell you anyway!
Well, the break wasn't as clean as I wanted it to be. I still blogged. I still talked to actors every day all day long and enjoyed it. And a couple of understudy gigs fell into my lap that boosted my self-esteem and reminded me that I was good at what I did. But I slowed down a lot and when the world wasn't whizzing by, I realized that I had it pretty good. I have wonderful people in my life, a fantastic flexible day job which requires a lot of heart and empathy for actors, I get to write on the business of acting which exercises my brain, and I perform a good deal, so I have a creative outlet. I'm not a starving artist--I have enough money coming in to have a decent place and health insurance--so any money that comes in from acting is just icing on the cake...for now. All in all, I'd say I am doing what I love. I'm running this marathon and I'm doing a heck of a lot better than I was two years ago when I was working 9 hours a day as somebody's beyotch in a law firm that made me want to poke my eyes out. I want more, but who doesn't? Marathon. Not a race.
As I figured out what I liked about my life and career, I starting unapologetically axing the things that were bringing me down, which really had nothing to do with acting itself. Toxic people. Toxic environments. Projects that consumed my time but weren't meaningful or challenging. And commercials--and this one is huge--I just don't care about commercials anymore. I go on these asinine auditions ("pretend like you're driving a car and look around--but don't look around and be too interested!") that make me irritated and frustrated. I'm called back most of the time, but I'm not a big booker and I somehow equated that to being a bad actor. I still hold that I'd rather be auditioning than not auditioning and, sure, I'd love to have a big ol paycheck for an exotic vacation, but again, I'm not starving and I don't aspire to do commercials. I love seeing my friends in commercials and there are spots that are creative and fun, but for the most part, it isn't about acting. So, C'est La Vie to stressing about that.
Perhaps most importantly--and I have Back Stage to thank for this--I started interviewing successful people in the business who truly inspired me to keep going. Not only that, but they were good people who encompassed everything you want to believe is possible in this industry. There are a lot of rats, but there are a lot of good people too. With such strong models of success in front of my very eyes, I felt something shift. These successful people weren't always successful and they talked about their ups and downs with such class and grace that I remembered how wonderful it is to attempt to do that which I love. They also reminded me how important it is to keep studying. It's hard to remember that you need to practice your craft when you're auditioning for lame-o under fives that you can do with your eyes closed, but the learning should never end.
Is this making sense? I don't know. It's a lot to explain in one blog.
I'm dedicating this next year to really studying my craft again, really honing my on-camera technique, and having my own little conservatory, of sorts, where I can work slowly but surely towards my goals. My skin is much thicker. My mind clearer. My path more defined. And I feel winds of change coming now that I understand where my priorities lie. A weight has been lifted and I'm ready to jump in.