I have never considered myself to be much of a gambler. Not saying I didn't take any risks, but I assess my tolerance for failure on a regular basis, and check in with my gut to know if something is too much for me to handle. I have made some decisions that made some of my loved-ones freak out a bit, but they were decisions that I didn't consider particularly risky. Deciding to actively pursue an acting career? I didn't see it as a risk because I always felt like I could do something different if it didn't go well. Moving to L.A.? If I ended up penniless and/or homeless, I could always go back to Chicago and stay with a relative while I worked to get back on my feet. Of course I didn't WANT any of that to happen, but I'd rather have that happen than never to try.
This last year has shown me something different. It has been R-O-U-G-H, and I've written here about some of the reasons why. Mostly it's just been awful financially (like many other industries right now). It's been said that "Adversity introduces a man to himself." Well, the same goes for women, and I am now speaking from experience. To put things into perspective, in 2009, I made half of what I made in 2008, which was half of what I made in 2007, which was just about $10k over what I actually needed to live on without playing the 'creative accounting game' (which is like the shell game, only with past-due bills and a "PAID" stamp).
I've asked myself over and over if I'm being selfish in a bad way. "Should I be doing this if I can't be financially solvent and have to borrow money to pay my rent?" " Am I burdening people as a result of my selfish decision." "Am I gambling with other peoples' money?" On paper, it looked like a "No" because I: "Never borrowed from anyone who was broke at the same time as I was." "ALWAYS paid back what I owed." & "Only ever borrowed from 3 close friends and family who had borrowed from me at some point (or several points)." I could rationalize it as a "No." but it felt like a "Yes." So I decided that I needed to look for work in fields other than entertainment (since even production work is in short-supply right now). I updated my "general employment" (read: "non-entertainment industry") resume and cover letter, took a deep breath, said a prayer, and spent my last dime (literally) on new headshots (which I really needed). It was make-or-break time, and I had to cover all of my bases. Before I could even get the headshots duplicated (still haven't because I don't have the money yet), BAM! I booked 2 commercials in the same week. I'm gonna be okay. I haven't been paid yet, so I still had to borrow money, but when I get paid, I'll pay it back. Then I'll pay it forward.
I may be lucky. I know I'm blessed. And I am staying prepared.
Yesterday I had such a great audition experience that I'm finding it hard to explain to people. I got called in to audition for a project with an actor whose work I've admired for several years (which is the entire time that he's been on my radar). I always find his work to be honest and grounded. Well, right before the audition, I found out that he was actually going to be in the room, and I got those "excited butterflies." I immediately told myself "He's an actor, just like you." And those butterflies quieted down. I've been acting for a long time - this was just one more scene.
And it went well. He told me a couple of times how good he thought I was (I don't think I absorbed the compliment the first time), and I told him "Thank you. I appreciate that." And I really did. I would LOVE to work with this dude, but I know that even if I don't book this particular job, I've just had my work seen by people I'd never met before, and if not now, maybe later. I'm on THEIR radar now. I also have a BIG audition on Tuesday, and a soon as I post this, I'm going to go back to studying my script. Honestly, I feel like I'm being prepared to work on a different level. My job is to make sure that I handle the part of the preparation that's in my hands.
I bet my life that this adventure is gonna be a good one.