Thursday, June 18, 2009

When the stakes are REALLY high

So I am sure this is the same in most professions - there are levels of achievement or moments that are "larger" than others (for lack of a better term). Maybe they are larger because they bring more money or prestige or as I often say, they are "career changing moments." How can we do our best in those moments when indeed, so much is at stake? We really want the job...we really need the money...we've been working for it for SO long without a break that this seems like the one thing that will turn it around!

The best we can do is just that: our best. For actors, that means knowing as much as you can about a show, a part, the creative team the politics the realities of the budget...all of it. It means preparing our material like no tomorrow as if we already have been given the contract and are in rehearsals for the show. It means believing that it IS our chance, our moment and going in and with all the nerves that will find us there, all the heart pounding adrenalin of the moment, that we still find a way to present ourselves professionally without passing out or crapping our pants. And when we walk out of the room, no matter what has happened, believing in ourselves that it was just a moment and the results are out of our control.

And as my dear friend and Broadway actress Michele Ragusa recently said to me, "You have no idea what the people on the other side of the table are thinking. They can be scouring and you get the part."

So when faced with the really "high stakes" moments, we must prepare, pray (hey it never hurts) present professionally, pridefully exit and then poop (just kidding, I wanted to keep using P words). But seriously, that idea of "letting it go" is probably as important as the prep work. If you don't let it go and it hasn't gone your way, or you don't get the next call or the offer, it can rip you up inside. It can keep you from eating or sleeping and it can make you question your passion and your drive. Don't let it - after all it is one moment in front of a few people. If you believe they have your life in their hands, maybe you need to re-examine your life. YOU have your life in your hands and while fate and these few people may not bring you, in that moment, what you want, don't let them, or anything control your destiny.

In the acting business, more than any other, we rely on the opinions and views of others to get work - these "others" in any given moment, are evaluating our talent - and talent is subjective so one person on the panel can absolutely LOVE us and another can HATE us. We are not Internet Tech folks who either have the skills or don't. We are actors, with our own craft, our own skill set, our own way of performing and selling it - we are ARTISTS. And if we are artists can we really ever abandon our art? I suppose we can, but at what price?

I have said, throughout my career, on several occasions, that if it doesn't happen here, or now, or with this show, or this part, I am walking away. And as many of you know, I have walked away, a couple times. BUT...I am an actor. It is who I am. It is what I do. And now...at this "moment," I choose NOT to walk away. I choose to stay in the mix, to keep auditioning, to understand, that at any level of this business I will continue to be rejected. But I will continue to be hard-working, focused, professional and try to always bring my A-game to the table.

"Ain't nothin' gonna break my stride...nobody gonna slow me down, oh no, I've got to keep on movin'.

I trust that you will do the same.

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