With all that is happening in this world it seems silly and almost pointless to be anything but grateful for the life I have.
So let's get that out of the way right off the bat. I am. tremendously and incredibly grateful.
But I also feel empty, desperate, and afraid.
For the past few years I have not been able to do what I love, and make a real living. I have been living on hope that things will turn around, but as of late, I am walking a very thin line of belief that the best of my career is all behind me and all my chances have already been given.
Negative thoughts, I know. But for some, that's what 20 years in the entertainment industry, can do to your spirit. You believe that all the work, sacrifices, networking and incredible passion for what you do will somehow level off “the hustle” when you hit a certain level in your career. I always thought when you have a few big credits on your resume that it will get a little easier. But the truth is, the rise and fall are unpredictable. And no matter your work ethic, reputation, or talent....you can always be back at square one. That may not be true for all, but it is for me.
In November, I was so lucky that a role in a play literally fell into my lap. This doesn't happen to me, ever. A writer here in LA asked a casting director in New York who he thought should play the lead role in her new play about Marilyn Monroe. She asked his honest recommendation. And this amazing casting director said,
"The only person who should play this role is Meredith Patterson"
My jaw dropped when I heard this. As an actress, you dream of people thinking of you in that light and recommending you in that way.
This writer thankfully took the casting directors advice, and I was asked sight unseen to portray Marilyn in this presentation of the play here in Hollywood. It was an amazing experience to play her; fulfilling with such incredible waves of emotion. And I was just sitting at a table and acting with some of the best in the business. The writer was so pleased, she then asked me to portray Marilyn at a presentation in New York for Broadway Producers & Investors.
I accepted of course, and the incredible high of creativity continued.
Those of us who do theatre, film or anything creative know that it "takes a village" to get any project off the ground. And the hustle for investors can take years. But I felt alive again. For a few weeks of performing this role, I felt reinvigorated and passionate. Now, I don’t know if I will ever play this role again, or if it will ever be done on stage, but this gift of playing Marilyn came at just the right time.
I know that performing is what I am meant to do. I have always known that. My earliest memory is watching the movie "Singin' In The Rain" at 5 years old and wanting to jump inside the screen and dance with Gene Kelly and be Debbie Reynolds. Ask anyone who knows me and they will say I have always wanted to perform.....but sometimes it takes a gift like this to remind me of that.
So with all these emotions and thoughts flooding my spirit, I decided to reach out to some influential people I know in the industry and over the past few months, share a video of the presentation of this play. The response has been incredible, heart-warming, and very emotional for me.
Most recently, my mentor in theatre, my teacher, my friend and an incredible performer herself watched this presentation and wrote me. She has known me since I was a child, and of everyone (besides my mother, father and husband) her opinion of my work means the most.
She wrote this:
“I just watched your performance. You are truly amazing my dear. Honestly, I was brought to tears several times. I am SO very proud of you as an actress. I was told you were sensational, but honestly I was blown away. And you know I wouldn’t say this unless I truly believed it. I do hope that some good folks will see this and that it will lead somewhere. What a waste of your awesome gifts - not to have you starring in something - all the time. Don’t give up Mer. You are gorgeous - and incredibly gifted. Please do try to get everyone you can think of to watch this presentation. I know you are trying to do that. I love you too - and my heart aches that you are having such a difficult time with your career. I know your wonderful family means the world to you - but I also understand the gnawing frustration about your career. However, NEVER GIVE UP!!!!!!! You have all of the gifts in the world!!”
It brings tears to my eyes to read this letter again. I share this with you all, not to flatter myself or to brag in any way, but more to let you see the struggle is real for everyone. And sometimes gifts come along when you least expect it. Everyone loses faith. People in this industry can think your awesome, and you still can't get work or even representation. But I tell myself as I am telling you.....hold on to your passions. Do whatever you can to hold on.
I think we all need to expose the raw vulnerably of what this business can do to you. It can be incredibly rough to be rejected so much. I am sharing this all with you because sometimes, just around the corner, someone is cheering you on and sending a gift your way....that you didn't even expect.
I have many irons in the fire right now, looking for work and representation, because its in my nature not to truly give up, to be tenacious and resourceful. But, I am also at a loss. I am hoping I will find my way back to being a performer full time, but maybe this presentation is my swan song? I don't think it is, but who knows?
I keep on keeping on. Trying every day to make a dent. It's what we do as performers when our life blood is entertainment. We rack our brains, hour upon hour, to see how we can make a living doing what we love. How can we still create, take care of our families, and thrive.
Being scared, desperate, and vulnerable is something I, and so many others, are taught to hide from the world. We are told to "fake it until you make it". We are taught to be fabulous all the time and not to show any weakness or fear.
We don’t ever want anyone to know we are struggling. Everyone is fabulous on Facebook right? But my friends, this business is scary sometimes. You can be successful and suddenly everyone's best friend one minute, and unemployed and no one will take your calls the next.
The truth is, I am scared but I know I'm not alone. I have that tremendous casting director in New York to thank, this playwright for blindly believing him and hiring me, and SO many others who have been my champion throughout my career of highs and lows.
So many other good, talented, awesome artists are also struggling. And this is ok. We are all one, we will come out of it and thrive. Art is made from struggle. Keep up the hustle and know we are all in this together.
For me, as long as this passion for performing is still blazing inside me, I just can't give up. My spirit won't let me.
These are confessions of my life as an actress working on Broadway, TV and Film for 20 years
Copyright 2017 M Patterson