I am not going to sugar coat this because you love people who are honest, authentic and direct. I know you need to hear this.
I know what you have been through in this life. Every detailed bit of it. I know the tremendous pain and broken dreams you hide behind that beautiful smile. I know you believe in so much for others and used to believe in yourself and yet you have given up on yourself, your career and any hope that you will live to the potential as an artist that you feel you have inside. Just stop right there my girl. Stop.
You have so much to do, my love, so very much.
Your heart has been broken so many times personally and professionally. You have put your unending loyalty and faith in so many people. You recklessly believed in those people who said they would "be there for you always". You trusted them with every fiber of your being. You let go and let your heart be your guide and you have been crushed without remorse. Abandon without explanation. Forced into bankruptcy and divorce, felt like a failure, not picked for hundreds of career altering projects, cheated on multiple times, ghosted out of friendships and then laughed at when you expressed your pain.
Listen, douchbag's exist everywhere and they always will.
Have you learned your lesson? Stop giving them any bit of you. Trust your instincts always. Give no chances to those who hurt you the first time. You knew those people in the past were always out for themselves. You knew once they had nothing else to take from you they would leave you. You knew it from the moment you met them. Remember this lesson and believe in your instincts. Your instincts know best and they set the boundaries, not your giving heart. Unabashedly and completely. Never with an apology. Be authentically you and only give time and energy to those who are in alignment with that.
I am begging you, sweet and open hearted Merie, to mend yourself completely. Forget the terrible people of this world who have hurt you personally and professionally. Put everything you can into the love, honesty, passion and hope in your life you have now and always.
You are a bright shining light in this world. You are so full of love. You have so much to give! Remember those who have always believed in you, who delight when you tell them your dreams, who give you a boost of exhilarated positivity every time you see them! The true hearted, talented, unconditional lovely souls who are in your life personally and professionally.
Those are the only people who get your energy and attention. You don't have to explain yourself to those who find themselves on the opposite side of your heart. They know what they did. And if they don't, its not for you to teach them.
You have voiced your pain, we heard it loud and clear, and most importantly, you have no one to save from the douchebags of the world. Everyone has their own lessons to learn in this life. You learned yours.
Let it all go.
You are healthy, whole, complete, authentic, talented, immensley loved and cherished and not at all done with your flourishing career. You have SO many huge things to do in this world!!!
Begin now my love!! CARPE DIEM!!
I got you girl. Count on me.
You bad ass, girl boss! Go get 'em!
From the time I began in the entertainment industry I asked questions. I asked if people could help me. I asked if I could get an audition. I asked how I could work harder, be ready, I just asked how I could........you fill in the blank.
I asked a lot of questions of a lot of people. And for me, the worst thing they could say was no. And let me tell you, I got a lot of no's, but I also got a lot of valuable information, some great mentoring, loving suggestions, incredible advice, and many many yes's.
Here's an example:
One of the first auditions I "crashed" was for the role of Ginger Rogers in the workshop of a new Broadway musical called GINGER. In the entertainment business, I was a total nobody. No real credits, but lots of tenacity and training. I knew I couldn't get an audition for the lead role so.....I just asked and asked and asked until I found out where the auditions were being held. Then, I called the casting office and I was told not to come. Casting was just doing their job. I didn't have an appointment and it was agent appointments only.
But still, my little ambitious heart couldn't stay away. I knew the auditions were coming up and I just had to ask one more time....by just showing up.
So I arrived at the casting office where the auditions were being held. I was dressed like Ginger Rogers would be, I had my audition book of sheet music, I had my tap shoes and my character shoes. I had snacks and water in case I was waiting a long time.....let's just say I was ready and smiling.
They let me in, surprisingly, and I just sat outside the audition room with a ton of other girls. Everyone was auditioning, and one by one, people passed me by to go into the room, but... I just sat there. Waiting. I don't know why I wasn't kicked out after awhile? Every time the casting director opened the door to the room where the creative team was sitting, she saw me, and made a puzzled face, but closed the door.
I wasn't hiding. I was sitting tall, smiling and waiting patiently. I just wanted my chance.
After 3 hours of sitting there, you would think I would've left right? But no....I was still waiting. My presence there was me asking to be seen. I never bothered anyone. I didn't ask again to be seen. In a gentle, yet tenacious way. They knew I wasn't going home until I was seen for the show.
Then something miraculous happened. The door opened and the creative team walked out for their lunch break....and that's when I saw everyone for the first time, and they saw me. One by one they walked out. I smiled and said "Hello" to each of them. They smiled, said hello, and walked by for their break. Someone must've wondered why I hadn't been seen or asked who I was because suddenly as the break ended, and the creative team walked back into the room and I was asked to audition!! I was asked to come in the room!! I couldn't believe it!
I auditioned, I felt amazingly grateful.....and the funniest thing happened.
I booked the role of Ginger!
If I hadn't asked by sitting there for hours, I wouldn't have auditioned and won that role. That decision to sit outside that waiting room began a very important partnership in my career with choreographer Randy Skinner, his assistant Kelli Barclay and The Ginger Rogers Society. The chain of events that unfolded after that workshop led me (I believe) to being Peggy Sawyer in 42nd ST on Broadway, Judy Haynes in the World Premiere and Broadway show White Christmas, starring in numerous other productions with Mr Skinner at City Center and the world premiere of the musical An American in Paris. All productions and experiences that have shaped me professionally and personally. Knowing Randy Skinner and being able to dance his incredible steps has pushed me as a dancer and artist more than any other choreographer that I have had the privilege of working with.
If I hadn't been there that day, who knows? Maybe that chain of events would've been a whole lot different.
I found out later that it was the head of the Ginger Rogers Society who saw me sitting there that got me the audition. He said I took his breath away, he thought he was looking at a young Ginger Rogers. He just had to see me sing and dance. These are his words, not me tooting my own horn. ;) I am eternally grateful to that man for giving me that chance to audition, and when luck met opportunity I was ready. I was so very ready to be Ginger Rogers.
What happened to the Broadway show GINGER? Sadly, that was one of the many Broadway shows that never made it to fruition, but the moral of that story is....just ask. Ask with your presence, gently nudge and try everything you can. Yes, I crashed the audition, and that might not be possible nowadays. But I wasn't forceful. I was respectful.
Always be respectful when asking, but don't be fearful of asking.
If you are an artist, and you want to "make it big" you have to live in either New York City or Los Angeles full time. This isn't relevant for celebrities, but for those of us in "the trenches", its still the 2 cities we have to choose from.
Yes, this is changing, very very slowly with self taping and many production companies filming TV series and films in other cities like Atlanta.....but still, Los Angeles and New York are the cities you have to choose from if you are serious about the entertainment industry.
I lived in New York City from the time I was 18 years old. When I was about 6 months pregnant with my first child, my husband and I were visiting Los Angeles and had brunch with the awesome actress Julie Bowen. Julie and I became friends when we worked together on ABC's BOSTON LEGAL.
She is quite honestly one of my career idols. Authentic and awesome, and my advice guru. I was rambling on trying to figure out if I should move from New York (where I had worked on Broadway but work was slow) or if I should move to LA (where I had worked a lot in TV and Film) and to try to expand my TV and Film resume? My mouth dropped open when she all of a sudden said,
"Fuck the business, where do you want to LIVE!"
My husband Dustin and I both laughed out loud in a shocked chuckle. But this blunt reply was exactly what I needed to hear. She went on to explain herself, but that reply had so much honesty to it that I constantly refer back to it when I'm thinking about my life, not the business, but my LIFE.
Honestly, Julie has 3 kids of her own, she could see I was about to have a child, I was tired of the "hustle" and I wanted to just settle down into a house with a yard and raise my kids in my home state of California. Now, Julie has had many hit series under her belt (including the one she's currently on Modern Family) so she could've not related to what I was rambling on about, just sat there, listened and nodded and from her perspective said "Los Angeles is great! Move here". But no, she looked me straight in the face and with this exuberance of energy said
"You've decided your whole adult life where to live based on the entertainment industry so, I say fuck the business! Don't think about that. Think about where you want to live! Be happy! Then the work will come. Focus on where you want to raise your family and let the business be secondary for once."
She was right. In my entire adult life I had never thought that way. I have always lived where it was best for the entertainment industry. I moved across country at the age of 18 to NYC because I wanted to "make it", I traveled to and from Los Angeles for 8 years to audition for Pilot Season, I rarely took vacations anywhere. Now I love the energy of both of these cities, but in my latest 30's and about to be a mother.....that energy shifted and I realized....
Everything in my life revolved around the business.
I always knew when I had kids that I didn't want to settle down on NYC. Nothing against people that do, I just never wanted to raise my child in a large and harsh city, unless I had the money to do so. I think in the trenches of that city, you grow up so fast. I just wanted my kids to have a simple suburban childhood with a house and backyard with a swing set. Not have Central Park as their backyard and have to navigate the subway to school. Of course NYC is very different if you have money, lots of money, but I don't and for those of us who don't....raising children can be rough.
After that brunch with Julie, my husband and I went back to NYC and I gave birth to our beautiful son. We weren't sure what we were going to do, but we stayed for 3 months and finally.....the harshness of the city got to both of us. The straw that broke the camels back was waiting 30 minutes in the hot stuffy station for the subway to come with my screaming newborn in my arms. It broke my heart. Then finally we got on the subway and a couple shady people tried to touch my baby.
I had it!
I wanted a "normal" life with my child. I use the word normal loosely, and again in no way mean to offend those who do live and thrive in New York City. I just knew in my gut that I wanted to be able to securely lock my child into their car seat and drive with air conditioning and have some control over my transportation. Go home to a spacious place with a backyard and a swing set. I just think after 20 years, the NYC subway system just finally pissed me off one last time.
But the point is.....your gut is your compass.
You need to constantly check in with yourself. Check in and see if you are truly happy and thriving? I'm not saying Los Angeles is the answer to New York City. Maybe for you its doing awesome regional theatre in a small town? This is up to you and to what your compass is telling you.
And just because you don't live in New York City or Los Angeles.....know that you are still an artist. You are still awesomely talented. You are still thriving. Sometimes, you have find when its right for you to say to yourself "Fuck the Business" and find out where you want to LIVE...in the most authentic and loving way.
These are confessions of my life as an actress working on Broadway, TV and Film for 20 years
Copyright 2017 M Patterson