"You don't know what it is to be an actress. If you're a writer--if you feel something you can write it. But I can't act unless they let me. I can't just walk up and down your room, being an actress!" --Terry Randall in Stage Door
I just watched Oprah's Master Class with Kevin Hart. I have always admired him and I think he is damn funny. He openly and candidly talks of his struggles to be taken seriously, combat massive defeat, to go beyond and work hard...and he repeatedly says that your fate in life is up to you.
I agree with this, but a comedian and an actor have very different journey's in the entertainment industry.
Comedians always have a place to perform. They have the comedy clubs, they always have stand up to go back to.
Just like that quote above says, "I can't act unless they let me". I can't act unless I am cast. Sure, I can act at home to no one but I don't have place that I can just go and get up and perform and get paid (or not) and act. I have a very small chance to create a following. Periodically I can sing at a club or restaurant, but to be able to stand and talk (not pay musicians to back you up) is such a gift. Unlike Kevin Hart, no one pays actors/singers/dancers to get on stage and just do pieces that they created? No one pays a unrecognizable actor to do monologues, or a singer or dancer to just get up and sing and dance routines they created? (Somewhere in the world, someone is getting to do that, but the norm is that it doesn't exist.) So the artist that I am can create all day, but it's not the same journey where you just work really hard and your fate is up to you. I hustle and create as much work that I can but it doesn't propel an actor as far as a comedian.
A comic is a unique type of performer in this industry. They ARE self generated. They have to be. They have to play the comedy clubs, and once they breakthrough in TV and Film then they get to call the shots. If you are a dancer, singer, actress like myself.....you don't have a club to go to and gain recognition in that same way. Even if you have starred on Broadway, you don't have the recognition. You go back to zero every time.
Does this make sense?
I also have the unique situation of having 2 young children (ages 5 and 2) so my momentum constantly gets challenged. I in NO WAY ever want to have my children believe that they have stopped me from living my dream. They have not. THEY ARE MY DREAM. It is possible to have many dreams at once. And how I wish my fate in he entertainment industry was up to me. That would be awesome.
What Kevin Hart did say that I totally identify with is that...Hollywood is fleeting and fake. The people aren't fake, but the opportunities and the stature is fake. It can be given to you and then immediately snatched away without explanation.
Which is why my friend (and now massive movie star) Chris Pine said to me, "Career's are fleeting and family is everything". He may not know how much that meant to me to hear at that time. He text me this when I was very low in my career. For someone who is very high and successful in his career to have that kind of perspective just goes to show you the kind of person Chris is. And that this community, the entertainment industry, can be true, close knit and authentic.
It is not the people that are fake, it is the opportunities that are fleeting.
Everyone knows there is an up and down, an ebb and flow, and you have to be ok with that. You have to be willing to ride that wave. I never thought that when I was young. I thought the harder you worked, the more focused you were, the more secure your career would be financially and otherwise.
But I have been at the top of my game and still had someone tell me I wasn't good enough. I wasn't talented enough. I wasn't pretty enough. I didn't do the exact right thing at the exact right time.
And what I learned, from Kevin Hart and my friend Chris Pine is, you need to be aware of what is real and what is fake. Work hard, be good at what you do, treat others how you want to be treated, don't take anyone's opinion as word, and never lose sight of your dreams.
The rush of excitement and adrenaline you feel when you get "the call" that you booked the role is intoxicating! The passion and love for what you do, or now have been cast to do, is like no other. You cheer, cry, collapse, call everyone you know, status update, tweet, snap chat, story and go nuts on every social media site you have! Right?
Or or at least this is what "the little kid" in you wants so desperately to do. Let your love and passion loose and shout your excitement from the rooftops!
But you are stifled, you are silenced, you feel the implications of being so celebratory right? You don't want to seem so full of yourself, conceited, or brag? You have to be humble always, think of others first, and step back a little.
The honest truth? Because of other people's envy and jealousy of you and your success. They can be your closest of colleagues, true friends, even family. They can be there for you as you cry on their shoulder about your lack of work, not booking, auditions sucking, being poor, etc. But when the tables turn and you book a lead in a Broadway show or become a series regular on a new show, have dinner with Julie Andrews or get a award nomination? Suddenly these same people can seemingly be smiling but behind their eyes have a twinge of bad and jealous energy. And then they position themselves to see what they can get out of knowing you.
Now of course this isn't everyone, but you know who it is in your life. Think about it. I'm sure a few faces and names come up in your mind. Of course it is not your concern how they react or don't react towards your success. That's on them. What others think of you is none of your business right? But listen, let me save you some valuable time. The more successful you become the more you will begin to feel the hateful and jealous eyes of others begin to surround you and people positioning themselves to be your friend.
This is hard to say, but it's the truth.
So, what do you do? Most just play the game and douse their excitement. They stop talking about what they are doing. They become calculated and stop having that public childlike excitement when they book a role or have an awesome meeting, or get a nomination or award. They begin to protect that information and protect their excitement and passion. It's not like they don't have it (let's hope they still do) but they save it for those who share the excitement with them.
They protect their environment, and the people they surround themselves with.
They raise their standards and protect it
Let me ask you, are there people in your life who support you when you are down and not up? Are there people who are more friendly when you are successful as opposed to not? Who love to complain and bitch about how hard life is all the time? People who openly judge others who are successfully doing what they want to be doing? They are doing this to you when you are not around. This is a huge realization. Who are these people in your life. This should make you uncomfortable to figure out. Go through that uncomfortableness and dive deep into it. You need to "exfoliate" these energies out of your life as soon as you are done reading this blog.
Why? I am speaking from personal experience.
I sadly was married to a husband and fellow actor who was extremely jealous and envious of my success, opportunities, and relationships within the entertainment business. Quite frankly he was jealous of anyone who got "his part" or was doing what he wanted to be doing. His pouty and negative "victim" energy was so draining to be around. This indirectly doused my passion. When something awesome happened to me, I felt I couldn't express it fully, because I had to be empathetic to his failing career. And to make him feel better about himself, I would energetically hide my excitement, and focus on how to help him succeed. A lot of his opportunities came from me calling in favors, asking for him to get an audition, introducing him to agents and casting. I was happy to do it because I believe its good to give, but its not good to give to a person who only takes. It was exhausting. And once he took all that he needed from me, he withdrew and left. But I'm thankful. We were not a good match and sadly after years of this kind of treatment, I realized he was holding me back in my life. He was holding me back from evolving in my career but also mentally and spiritually. And after we divorced, I realized just how much.
I also had friends and colleagues (just a few negative Nelly's who I have since ceased to know) who would make side comments and jokes about my success. They would be "shocked that I got that part" and say things that made me cock my head to the side. Back handed compliments and comments concealed as jokes. It would be small, but enough to make me wonder what they meant? I call these comments the "things that make you go hmmm?" And when it came down to it, they definitely meant what they said. And now, anytime anyone makes me go "hmmm", more than once, they are out of my life.
Now letting these ex husbands and ex friends go, completely out of my life, I don't consider harsh treatment. I don't consider myself quick to judge. I find that I have a very good intuition about people and how I'm being treated energetically and verbally.... and a very low tolerance for bullshit and bad energy.
My advice from my experience? Listen to your intuition about people. Trust it above all.
Now, in my life, when something awesome happens, I book a big role or get a new job or have someone praise me. I don't douse the little girl in me with big dreams. She comes roaring out and giggles, laughs, jumps up and down and cries with excitement! She is let loose and she is supported in her excitement. And when my friends have the same happen to them, I jump up and down with excitement and support for them! Its a circle of giving, not just taking as it was in the past.
Not everyone is kind, awesome, authentic and lovely. And not everyone is your friend. No matter how nice you are to them. Please learn this lesson. I have now consciously chosen to surround myself with the best positive energy I can find. The best and most authentic awesome people. I hold close to the ones who lift me up and whom I lift up. And that's my rule. That's what I live by.
My standards have been raised. I intend to fiercely protect that because this is a huge life lesson for me. Not matter what your industry. Raise your standards and surround yourself with love and light always.
It's not that you aren't going to interact with negative, jealous, envious, judgmental people? Oh my god, they are everywhere! Every day I still interact with them. But I don't choose to engage. I don't keep them close. I don't spend any more time with them than I have to. I smile and move on.
You may not think you have a choice. My friend, whom you decide to spend your time with in this life is absolutely your choice. I am not saying its easy, but it is always your choice. Set boundaries and raise your standards today. And once you make that decision? Watch what positive and wonderful things begin to emerge.
My Mommy is 41!!
My sweet 4 year old boy yells as he skips with sheer joy through the aisle at the supermarket. He's so happy he knows my age, he looks at me with his wide eyed sweet dimpled grin and says "Mommy! You are 41! And on November 24th you are going to be 42!"
I kneeled down to him, sharing his excitement and said "Yes baby, you are right, I am! And I think 42 is a magical number. Did you know that!? I can't wait to be 42!"
He pumped his fist and said YES! and continued to skip down the aisle and naming everyone he knew, there age and their birthday. He was elated and so excited that he knew all these numbers.
People are staring at me to see my reaction to my son admitting my age in front of anyone and everyone. I found myself smiling..... until I saw their faces. Many of them were shocked and looking to be to have a negative reaction or to shush my son? Ugh. He has no idea that getting older is considered a bad thing in our society. And I suddenly got protective of this little man's innocence. I never want him to know that its not ok to talk about anyone's age. I looked away from the negative people's glare and walked away.
Why on earth are we so obsessed with age? The number? And getting older. When did we stop thinking it was a privilege to get older and began to think of it as a burden?
I live in Los Angeles, right in Hollywood, and of course I'm an actress in the entertainment industry. No matter if you are an actress or not, NO ONE in Hollywood wants anyone to have anyone shout out their actual age. So, no one at the supermarket thought it was cute that my son was yelling that I'm 41, except me. I mean, I distinctly remember my talent manager from years ago telling me I was "getting old at 27 and I better book something huge soon or it will be too late".
Fuck you, I remember thinking. My career is a marathon not a sprint, and I plan to be an actress and an artist until I croak. If I book something huge, great, but if I don't....am I washed up? Is that it? Giving yourself a time frame doesn't always mean you will be Jon Hamm and suddenly book Mad Men. It doesn't always work like that, and those awesome performers and actors who are beyond 30 or even 40 are still viable and wonderful artists. Fuck you sir, politely with a smile, fuck you.
I am 41 and I'm damn proud of it
I have lived a rich and wonderful life, and I am still living one every day. I consider every day and every birthday a gift.
Because that's what it is. For all of us.
I'm sick of people in society and in the entertainment industry wanting to shave years off their age and there life, or my life. I have lived 41 years! I celebrate that. Of course its great to have people tell you that you look or act years younger. Everyone wants to look happy, healthy, feel vibrant, and energetic. But I don't want to go backwards. I don't want to waste valuable time thinking about being younger? What a waste of time and energy! I am proud to be older.
I am grateful for every day I have. Why? It's in my nature. But I also come from a family that has genetically inherited a neurologtical disease called Huntington's Disease (HD). Not every day has been promised. My incredible relatives (my grandfather, great aunt, uncle and cousin) have all fell ill to HD and died young.
So if I ever get into a place where I feel "old" in life and the entertainment industry is telling me I'm washed up and being over 40 is death. I will snap out of it. Say fuck you to all of them with a smile and keep at it. Remember my son's enthusiasm at the store for birthday's, remember my family who wished they had just one more day of being happy and healthy, go outside take a deep cleansing breath and smile at the sun.
Because I'm so happy and grateful to be 41.
These are confessions of my life as an actress working on Broadway, TV and Film for 20 years