This Friday, I had a different kind of party. There were no fuscia pink feather boas (courtesy of Larissa) or glow-in-the-dark lip gloss (courtesy of Krista) or clever cards (courtesy of everyone) or alcohol (well...a negligible amount). This party was less of a celebration and more of a summit. Not a libation, but an intended liberation.
Tonight, we had a career party.
Joined by my room-mate, the exquisite dancer Tiffany, I groaningly sat down with a pair of lap tops, two brains, the NY Agent Book, and a blank piece of paper. Our purpose: to brainstorm and talk through our current performance career goals, break them down into doable steps, and attack.
I miss the feather boa.
To start, I was cranky and defensive. Tiffany kept asking me things like, "Is your list of agents and CDs current for your mailings? Do you have any friends you can ask for referrals?" I'd scowl and grumble that my list was just fine, thank you, leave me alone. It's hard to say why it was so hard for me to get in the spirit of mutual encouragement and full disclosure - perhaps it's because, like many actors, I feel like I am working really hard and am not sure I have the energy reserves to do more. But tonight's career party ended up revealing what we knew all along but couldn't quite see; like Dallas Travers likes to say, it's not about doing more, it's about doing less more often. It's about simplicity, focus, and smarts. Doing more is what I'm doing right now, and it's just not working as well. I can continue scrambling around the city burning up energy and hope, or I can reassess and refocus my work to match my goals.
Here's what I came up with: if my goal is to be in a feature film and a Shakespeare play this year, it doesn't make a lot of sense to spend a bunch of money on voice lessons or dance lessons. It makes more sense to sign up for an on-camera class for TV/Film or a Shakespeare class at the Barrow Group, and refresh my efforts to keep in touch with agents and casting directors that work on those kinds of projects. It would better serve me to send out a focused mailing and take clowning. Tiffany, along the same lines, wants to cross from musical theater to TV/Film but has no reel. However, she has an additional goal of becoming the next Ellen DeGeneres and starting her own TV show. We figured out that if she devotes the next month to writing a comedy sketch, we can film it ourselves and have it finished by this summer as a web sketch - both providing her with a reel and a valuable learning experience about acting/producing for the camera.
Even though I started out grumpy and frustrated, by the end of our career party I was excited. Why? Because it really gets my blood pumping to think about the things I love, to push through my lethargy and form tangible steps that are within my power to take. Acting can be overwhelming if my goals are too nebulous. Breaking it down into bite-size pieces helps me to see that not only is the next rung of success attainable, but I have already achieved a lot. I'm already doing a lot. In fact, I can do less - more often. Where there is strategy, the celebration can't be far behind.
What would a career party look like for you? Is there something you want to achieve that seems too far-off, too unattainable? I bet you can get there. One party at a time, friends. All we need to do is break it down.
|so many parties...so little time...|