How to take it easy on yourself and still be the star you are.
By Geoffrey Kidwell (actor)
It's audition season here in New York City.
It's a time when hungry young actors and actresses harness all of their creative drive and ambition and hit the audition scene, determined to book work.
It also happens to be winter, which everyone knows is the most motivating time of year.
In truth, audition season kinda sucks. And not to put too fine a point on it, but in statement of fact, auditioning sucks. Oh, and anyone who tells you otherwise - those people who are like, "I love auditioning. It's a chance to perform. Think of it as like a free class." - are absolutely dying on the inside.
The truth is that we're all scared that we're never going to work again. None of us want to get up at 6:30 in the morning to head down to line up for an audition surrounded by girls toting giant rolling suitcases and bags upon bags of "product."
No. The whole thing sucks. You know it. And I know it.
But I come here with good news.
While we can't avoid the endless line-waiting, the young casting interns who may or may not be trolling around Facebook while we give them our best sixteen (sometimes eight. EIGHT!) bars and the inevitable rejection, we can adjust our attitudes.
We can remind ourselves that ultimately, none of this fucking matters. Not one bit.
Now, take a deep breath. I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't take auditioning and our careers seriously. Trust me, I'm just as hungry. I don't want to wait tables any more than you do. In fact, I've got it worse. I wait tables...in a fucking bowling alley. A BOWLING ALLEY!
What I am suggesting is that none of us should live and die by our career as artists - or any career for that matter.
The other day I was really upset. Like full-on crying breakdown upset. I ate three empanadas and half a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream in bed.
Nothing in my life seemed to be lining up. And, like many people, I often choose my most emotional moments to make grand proclamations about the likelihood of my success as an actor. Really smart, right?
Anyway, I was talking to my brother - and let me just paint a quick picture: He's three years older than I. He lives in DC in a cute two-story house - the kitchen of which he just remodeled - he has a beautiful and successful wife and he's financially steady. In fact, I bet he even has a savings account with a number followed by multiple zeros. In short, he's got it together.
So here I was having this meltdown and my older brother says to me something to the effect of, "Geoff, you're not just an actor. That's not the only thing you have to offer. It's what you do professionally and it's your greatest passion but it doesn't define you any more than anything else you do."
I bristled at first. "Of course it defines me," I thought, "It's everything I am."
But let's follow that logic through to it's conclusion.
If I'm an actor who is out of work - AKA I'm not currently being paid to act - does that mean I am somehow undefined - I don't exist?
I think you know the answer.
What I am is myself - an expression of consciousness, of emotions, thoughts and desires.
Being an actor is what I have chosen to do with my life. But it's not my life.
Does that make any sense?
I can't adequately express to you how freeing this realization has been for me.
Gaining insight into my deeper consciousness allows me to feel good about myself regardless of whether or not I'm singing on a Broadway stage. It allows me to know that ultimately, I'm okay. It doesn't mean I don't have goals and ambitions. It simply empowers me to feel good about myself regardless of whether or not I've achieved my dreams. And truthfully, I haven't.
But I have learned that allowing myself to feel whole and contented regardless of what's going on in my life externally actually enables me to more successfully achieve the things I'd like to achieve. It empowers me to operate from a place of peace rather than strife.
I know all of this sounds a bit New Agey and crystally, but why not give it a try?
Next time you're in line for an audition and you're feeling like everything is riding on whether or not you go in there and blow them away, try taking a few deep breaths and reminding yourself that you are so very much more than your sixteen bars or your headshot. I think you'll find that your high A will seem much easier to hit and your monologue will feel much more connected.
Or just be a nervous wreck. I suppose it works for Woody Allen.
AND NOW...THE WEEK IN WHITNEY HOUSTON!!!
You know what...I'm every woman. And so are you. When in doubt, when that audition didn't go well, when you're eating empanadas in bed while crying, remember that you are every woman! Enjoy!!