I once overheard a woman talking on the train about how she just wanted to be famous. I gathered that she was a actor (more of a wannabe celebrity) based on the nonsense she was saying. Things like “I’ve sent them my head-shot and resume three times, I don’t know what their problem is. If they don’t reply by next week I’m just going to walk into their office. I was in that television show, but they took my part out when it was aired.” She also bragged about every little thing she has done. She was talking to another actor on the train. Someone who I could tell was humble and didn’t feel the need to handout his head-shot and recite his resume to everyone aboard. Everything she said drove me insane because she wasn’t someone who loved what she was doing. She wasn’t someone who wanted to act because she enjoys playing different characters or stepping into an imaginary pair of shoes. Instead, she just wanted to be famous. “I’m just waiting to catch my break” was the line that informed me of this. I wanted to stand up and be the hero that the train deserved, but not the one it needed. I wanted to tell her, “you’re doing this for all the wrong reasons.” Who said you’re going to catch a break anyway? You should be focused on bettering yourself and having fun doing what you’re doing rather than waiting on one of the oracles to say “Yes, you’ve made it.” This whole train ride made me stop and think. It brought me to the ground-breaking question, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? I find that the people who just care about ‘making it’ are doing it (acting, performing) for all the wrong reasons. If that’s what you want, I truly believe it’s never going to happen for you. Why? Because you’re just going through the motions. Every show you do and every performance is just an attempt at catching a break. That’s not what this is about. You should be doing it because you love it. Don’t let the illusion of fame make you forget why you started doing this in the first place. You didn’t wake up one morning and say, “I need to memorize this monologue so I can audition, get an agent, and then become a millionaire.” You most likely started doing it because you enjoyed theater or had an interest in performing because it looked like FUN. I always think about professional athletes who refuse to play because they aren’t getting paid enough. Were you getting paid when you first started out? NO. All you cared about was getting out of class so you could get to the wrestling room, football field, basketball court, or hockey rink because you loved playing. But somewhere down the line they forgot about their love for the sport. Fame, fortune, and celebrity status clouded that feeling they first had. The love that you have for your craft should never go away. When you start saying “I’m not doing this unless I get paid” you’re going about it the wrong way. You can build yourself up from working so hard (because you love it) that you get to a level where you are being paid to do it, but the second you say “how much are you going to pay me” you’ve lost sight of why you started doing this in the first place. If you want to be paid for doing what you love, be so good (good because you love it remember) that they have no choice but to pay you.
If every time you step on the stage or into an audition, you think “this is how I’m going to catch my big break” you’ll drive yourself insane. That is too stressful to even comprehend. I’m fallen victim to the “this is my big break” or “I need to do A to get to B” mantra before. I’ve said to myself: I need to make this team or I need to get into this program if I want to be successful. The fact of the matter is I didn’t NEED any of those things. I wanted them sure, but I didn’t need them. What I needed was to enjoy the hell out of what I was doing. It’s funny, the second I stopped caring about “this is my chance” was around the time I started to become more successful. All the auditions I walked into where I was stressed to all hell repeating to myself “do this and you’ll impress them” always resulted in failure. No callback. Nothing. But, when I walked into an audition and said to myself, “have fun and enjoy performing with people you’ve never performed with before” is when I would get a callback, make a team, or be admitted into a program. Take for example, finding a boyfriends or girlfriends. When you’re looking for someone to date it seems like there’s no one out there for you. It’s when you’re not looking that you’ll be blessed with meeting someone you fall in love with. The point being, if you’re out looking to become famous, you never will be.
For me, I know exactly why I get in front of an audience I don’t know every week. It has nothing to do with being famous or even wanting to be famous. I LOVE performing. I love making stuff up and playing a variety of nonsensical characters. I love sitting down and creating a relationship within a made up location, point of view, objects, and everything else you can imagine with my scene partner. It’s really something magical that I look forward to every night. People have asked me if I got sick of doing comedy or improv after doing 31 straight days of it in a row in January. The answer is no. Not at all. I love it so much I wanna do it all the time. Sure, people need a day off, but when I do have a day off I feel like I’m being lazy. I feel like I should be doing something. Always. Half the time, if I take a day off I usually end up going to see someone else’s show. If the time comes where my love for the art and my love for performing lead me to fame and fortune, awesome, but I’m not doing what I’m doing for that sole purpose. Getting on stage and performing makes me happy and I look forward to it every week. That’s all I care about. I just want to continue to get on stage with my best friends and make stuff up. It’s as simple as that. I like laughing and I like making other people laugh. As long as I get to keep doing that, in any way, shape, or form, I’m happy.
So, if you’re a performer, you should take a moment to ask yourself this paramount question: WHY AM I DOING THIS? Is it because you just want to be famous or is it because you actually love what you’re doing? Do you say “why haven’t I caught my break yet?” I hate to say it, but who’s to say that you have a break to catch in the first place. Do it because you enjoy it. No other reason. It’s after you stop saying “when” that something will come your way.
If you ask me, just enjoy the hell out of the journey and you’ll be surprised by the outcome. If you love it enough, it’ll lead you to places you could only imagine.