That’s pretty much how I rate this year overall in my career. It wasn’t the banner year I expected. I certainly didn’t make much money, a fact supported by my nearly negative bank account balance. Also, I didn’t book any big jobs, with proof on my slow-growing IMDb page. Even what was supposed to be the final two acting gigs of the calendar year got yanked away due to low ticket sales for live shows I regularly perform in with an acting troupe.
No, as I look back at the last 12 months I see plenty of bumps in the road, a road often traveled by Greyhound or Megabus. Despite having 4 agents, even auditions seemed slim some months. What made it feel worse is seeing peers nationwide achieving success in bookings and creating momentum. We never look at people doing worse than us, do we?
So let’s rattle off the 10 reasons real quickly here and maybe you’ll find a kindred spirit in your equally pathetic year.
10. Auditioned 3 times for Breaking Bad’s spin-off and numerous other episodics without booking.
9. Booked a fun role in a horror film, only to have it pulled when the producers didn’t want a union actor in it.
8. Spent several hundred dollars to get to a national commercial audition but didn’t book it.
7. Auditioned for roles in two feature films in one afternoon in New Orleans and didn’t book either one.
6. Split my pants in between the two auditions in New Orleans and spent the rest of the day trying to cover my butt.
5. Booked a fun role in a TV pilot that never got shot.
4. Attended a film festival screening of a short film I worked on as the lead and virtually no one showed up.
3. Got callbacks for national commercials but didn’t book any of them.
2. Found a full-time job that provided income for updating marketing materials and attending workshops, only to have it abruptly ended after three months.
1. Didn’t work on any films, the first year that’s happened since 2005.
Sure, every year has its ups and downs for actors but this stands out as a very undesirable year. But I still have my health, you may say. Okay, that’s true, even if my doctor said my oxygen levels are low and recommended me for a sleep study.
So what exactly is the point of enduring a year not easily labeled anything but bad? Is there some redeeming quality to the whole deal? In fact, I believe there is. Really.
Here’s what happened that worked in my favor this year. It’s the silver lining in my acting cloud. I didn’t die. Nothing brings a career to a halt like death. So I have life working in my favor. Here’s another big deal. That full-time job I mentioned earlier led to me finally moving from SAG-eligible to a member of SAG-AFTRA in July. Score! Membership in the union opened a door to workshops hosted by two terrific casting directors as well as career advice and support from peers. Some of the best advice and guidance I have received in years came from one particular member of the union in Houston, Mykle McCoslin. Suddenly my assessment of the year looks a lot different.
I’m a fan of positive thinking but, like many actors, I get consumed by negativity far too often. It messes with my mind and interrupts my confidence and my creative process. I think rather than burying the trouble and pain, it may be better to claim it and do something productive with it. Then, once you’re ready to find the meaning in all that mess, you may be able to do it more effectively.
As 2014 comes to a close, I invite you to share what irked you most over the last year. Keep it clean and make it productive. Maybe together we can generate a plan to guide you in a new direction.