Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Heart of the Matter.

Being able to carve out a career as an actress (or ANY type of artist) can be really tough sometimes.  Yeah, yeah - we all know about the romanticized "starving artist" and we also know about the rich and famous whose hardships get pooh-poohed, after all - if you are rich and famous, what problems could you possibly have??

People are people, and life is life.  No matter where you are in your career (and most of us are somewhere between starving and rich), it is as tough as it is fulfilling.  The ups and downs, the passion, the pressures, the bookings (yay!), the memorizing, the relationships (business and personal), the driving, the residuals, the calls that never come, the bills that always do.

This is not for the faint of heart, that's for sure, but artists are, by nature, sensitive.  We have to be tuned in to nuances, ironies, colors beyond the rainbow, behavior that belies the words.

We have to be flexible and resilient at the same time.  To bend and not break.  Some of us bend and get stuck in a permanent posture of compromising ourselves.  Some of us break.  Sometimes irreparably.

In a society that increasingly demands access, transparency, and the right to judge every aspect of the artist's life, self-care is more important than ever:  Putting your being into each thing that you touch, yet not being so fragile that any criticism threatens to kill your spirit.  There is so much to do that has nothing to do with "creating," and yet art requires a healthy measure of solitude and reflection.  How do you get that if you are plugged in all the time?  I ask this of myself, and I ask you to ask it of yourself.

Our primary purpose, as artists, is to do OUR work.  In our hearts, we know what that is.  Sadly, the fact that life dictates that we receive payment for this work in order to afford the basic necessities (I, personally, am not with starving and living outdoors), adulturates it.  We can't focus on just "doing good work"  whether anyone likes it or not when there is no food, the rent is late, and the car is about to be repossessed.  Trust me - I've been there.  This is why we have to draw a line between BUSINESS and ART.

The BUSINESS requires marketing, selling, and some (like it or not) "pandering".  It involves social media, marketing, networking (shudder), and other types of self-promotion.

But never forget that social media, networking, marketing, and red carpet photos are BUSINESS TOOLS.  They are not your identity.  They are not your work.  They are not your art.  Tweeting 800 times a day doesn't show that you are a good actor any more than hammering nails shows that you can build cathedrals.  Building cathedrals shows that you can build cathedrals.  Don't get so caught up in business that the work suffers.  Do. YOUR. work.  Nobody else can.  If you don't the world won't have it - and somebody needs it.

I wrote this because I need it.  Maybe you do too.

--Nicole

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