Last week Monday, I went to a theatre audition. I’ll spare you the suspense—I didn’t get it. But I ran into a few people I’d gotten to know since joining the industry, and one of them said to me, “I see you in, like, everything.”
This was surprising, and really nice for me to hear. See, I hadn’t been having a good day that Monday. Earlier I’d had the last acting class of the season and had to say goodbye to all my classmates who were continuing on in the next season. I’d saved for months for that class, and I loved it, but it will be a while before I’ve saved enough for more classes. It felt a bit like I was being left behind while everyone else was going on to do bigger and better things, and it wasn’t just in class.
That same day I also found out I didn’t get a callback for something I thought I’d done pretty well in the audition for. And yes, it happens all the time not to get a role that you gave a good audition for, but for me it had been months since I’d gotten anything. Well, two months, and I guess that’s not very long, but it felt long. I couldn’t afford new winter tires for my car, or new headshots which cost about the same, or acting classes, and I hadn’t made much money in a while. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could afford to stay in the game, or whether I even wanted to.
Actually, I was in this mood in all aspects of my life. A few other things had fallen apart for me and the shitty feeling was spreading; I no longer derived joy from acting or writing. Even going to rehearsals wasn’t very fun for a few weeks there, and I didn’t work on my magnum opus very much. And while I was on the verge of giving up on everything and getting a “normal” job, projects that I’d finished were starting to come out. Most notably, Summer’s Monster, but also an episode of Complacency I did with the same people who did Surreal from when I first started.
So when I found myself in the waiting room for a theatre audition (which I’ve previously said I don’t tend to do well in), and a friend said that I seemed to be in everything, I could understand completely why she would say that. It sort of made me see how easy it was for people to see what’s happening on the outside and overestimate your success, and it made me wonder how often I was doing that with other people.
How often did I think I was failing as an actor when someone posted a role they’d gotten on Facebook or shared a set pic on Instagram? A lot, I realized. Like, way too much. Especially considering I was in the middle of a run for my second play this season in which I play a lead character, and I just did a commercial a month or so ago, and starred in an unreleased short film a few months before that, not to mention the other play I’d done was a huge success and six whole episodes of Summer’s Monster came out and that episode of Complacency I guest-starred in. I mean, from an outside perspective, I was on a roll. Once upon a time, I dreamed of the sort of life I have now. So what the hell was I about to give it all up for?
Still, I’m not an idiot. I know acting isn’t a great long-term plan, especially in Calgary where we’re lucky to get the occasional western passing through—and westerns don’t usually look for people who look like me anyways. So I have to figure out at what point I’ll stop. When I first started, I gave myself a year. It’s now been over a year and a half, and I’m not doing too bad for myself. I’ve managed my money well enough that if I don’t get anything else (and nothing goes horribly wrong), I could do this for another year.
I think 2019 will be a sort of crossroads year for me. Because at the end of it I might find myself completely entangled with the acting thing and also making my own short films and chasing dreams with wild abandon and no idea where I’m going or how to stop. Or I might find myself this time next year with the scales tipped the other way, preferring security and financial independence and a somewhat “normal” life with a “normal” job, and I’ll consider myself done. Acting will be that thing I went for when I was young and reckless and free of adult responsibilities. It will be in the past.
For now, I think I’ll finish 2018 as I started it—broke and happy—and in the new year I’ll find myself a part-time job that works around the acting stuff and maybe also pays enough for gas. And I’ll make another short film or two, and I’ll save up for classes, though whether they end up being acting classes or French lessons or something else, I don’t yet know. We’ll see.
Oh, and after getting home from that audition last Monday, I found out I’d gotten a recurring part in my first union project, and one of the directors from the audition later asked me to audition for another play she’s doing, so it wasn’t an all-bad day.