A mean customer at a restaurant told Michelle to quit acting and move on with her life... and Michelle's response was inspiring...
by David Davila (playwright / songwriter)
Actress, singer, and popular cabaret artist, Michelle Caniglia, is NOT the best. You can ask her. She's well aware; but she doesn't care. Singing, acting, and dancing were never about being the best to her, they were about creating art and living in it if for just a moment.
(Michelle Caniglia sings KEEP THIS LOVE by Stephanie Nash at UNFINISHED: THE MUSIC OF STEPHANIE NASH live at The Drom)
Recently a customer at one of the restaurants Michelle works at to make ends meet, insulted her and told her to quit acting. Michelle responded whole heartedly to the customer, and posted her response on facebook for all her friends to see.
The post went viral among NYC acting circles, as actor after actor saw themselves in Michelle and continued reposting. Her little facebook status even evoked responses from successful Broadway actors like Christopher Jackson of IN THE HEIGHTS, who took a moment of his own time to encourage her. In reality even successful performers are still living the same life as Michelle, 30 seconds at a time.
Here's Michelle's original post:
It's becoming an epidemic! With the Kyle Smiths of the world thinking they're better than their waiters simply because they give them refills of iced tea. The truth is that actor's in New York are some of the bravest souls on this planet, leaving the safe and friendly environments they grew up in for the mean streets of New York, LA, London, and Paris. They live for years being dirt poor because they're making sacrifices for their art as they try to live their dreams.
(Michelle Caniglia singing at my 52 SONGS: ABRIDGED! concert at the Laurie Beechman Theatre)
Many people think that there is some magic rainbow land at the end of this "waiting tables" tunnel, but the truth is that there simply isn't. Being an actor is a lifelong lifestyle choice. You don't have to magically stop auditioning one day, or magically have to worry about where your next pay check is coming from. That will NEVER go away. Maybe you get a great gig on a television show that pays you well and you're able to buy a NYC apartment. Guess what... when your show gets canceled you're now worried how you're going to continue paying for that apartment. Sure, the stakes are raised, but the lifestyle of living check to check never goes away.
The money is not the reason we ever decided to go into acting. That is clear to every single one of us the first time Kyle Smith leaves us five percent and rolls his eyes as he leaves his booth. The fact of the matter is, if you're not an artist you'll never understand why we do what we do. You'll never understand why we work 50 hours a week slinging cheesecake, then another 50 hours on our art.
You won't understand what it is to have passion for the human experience of creating art, and you never will. The actors of NYC, like Michelle, understand that it's worth the 40 hours of insults and degrading service if they get to create art with a community of artists like themselves for even just 30 seconds in a room with a piano.
They understand that it's worth it. That is why I love Michelle Caniglia. That is why I adore her, and her talents, and her enthusiasm, and her commitment to creating new work. That is why I use her in all of my concerts and write new music for her, and support her efforts to "Make it."
She just gets it. When I saw her post on Facebook I was floored. How many people get told that same thing over and over during their lives? People get told to stop following their dreams because they'll never be the best. They get told first by their parents, then their teachers, then their entire community, and one by one they lose the passion for creating art.
It's an inspiration to see someone love the "30 seconds" as much as Michelle does, and it's an inspiration to see how far she'll go to live in those "30 seconds."
Michelle loves the "30 seconds" so much that she's taken to Voxist tactics to perform these days. Her, and ever fierce, Anika Seidman-Gati are producing their own concert at The Triad on March 23rd to raise money for victims of Hurricane Sandy along the Jersey Shore.
You can help support the shore, and Michelle's dreams of performing by donating to her Kickstarter campaign, or coming to hear her sing at the Triad on March 23rd. Let's show the Kyle Smiths of the world that there is no dream that can't be conquered. Help Michelle and Anika live in their art for one hour, and help the people of the Jersey Shore rebuild.
I'll be there... supporting the community and supporting the dreams of anyone who ever got off of a train, or a plane, or a bus... maybe yesterday.
I hope that you'll take Michelle's story and apply it to your own life. Don't let someone else's expectations dictate how you choose to live. If you want to perform, or create, or dream then let's perform, and create, and dream!
Donate to the cause here: 3.6.5. a concert with Michelle Caniglia and Anika Seidman-Gati
... and now for the 90's jam of the week. This week's trip into nostalgia is brought to you by my roommate Trisha who has been walking around the apt singing ALL-STAR for the last three days. Don't give up on your dreams. YOU'RE AN ALL-STAR!!!!!!!!!!
DAVID DAVILA is the guy behind those 52 SONGS concerts, and half of the song-writing duo Havrilla & Davila, author of the Tex-Mex plays ADAN Y JULIO, MEN OF GOD, CREDO, REQUERDOS OF MY LIFE, and AZTEC PIRATES AND THE INSIGNIFICANCE OF LIFE ON MARS. He is a self proclaimed Voxist, a Diva enthusiast, and founder of Lone Star Theatre Co. Wanna talk about it? www.daviddavila.net
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