I heard an analogy recently that I thought works really well to describe the pursuit of an acting career.

Consider the pursuit of your acting career as doing time in traffic. Here in LA, for instance, you may check SigAlert.com before you head out, and all may look clear, but when you hit the 10, suddenly it’s a parking lot, and you’re stuck for hours just trying to make it a few miles. Terribly frustrating, right? You thought you had your route planned and now you’re either stuck with the non-moving freeway or you’re gonna have to exit and find your way around using surface streets. Do you stick with the devil you know or attempt to try out the one you don’t know? No way to know which one will get you to your destination faster (if at all), but you’ve got to get there, so you’re stuck in traffic.

How many times, as an actor, have you felt like you’re cruising at a delightfully efficient pace, actually making really good time toward your ultimate destination (anything from fame to that first network costar booking) and then, BAM! there’s a snag. You’re suddenly in a traffic jam and now your arrival doesn’t seem like it will be on schedule.

Or, more likely, the way actors spend the most frustrated time as they head down that highway, you were going above the speed limit and then things just slowed down. You’re not in stop-and-go traffic, but you’re certainly going more slowly than the rules of the road would allow. And you’re frustrated because other lanes seem to be moving faster than yours. So you change lanes. And now the lane you just left is moving faster. Dangit! Where is the logic in this?

Ah, that’s just it. There is no logic. I’ve said before that identical twins could set out on their pursuit of an acting career in Hollywood and have completely different results and experiences. There are no formulas, there are no bits of science, there’s not even a roadmap you can download with recommendations of tourist attractions you might like to visit along the way.

Still, there are actors who, in their pursuit of acting, will decide the journey — with all of the traffic, the lack of recommended tourist attractions, the inability to know for certain when to expect gridlock — is unpredictable enough to abandon altogether. That’s right. There are travelers among you who will — rather than sitting patiently in traffic or attempting an alternate route to their destination — simply get out of their cars and leave ’em sitting there.

No, this isn’t another column about Packing It In and Going Home. We all know that there are times when stopping the pursuit of show business is actually a very good idea for some folks. (And, happily, one can always come back and give it another go, down the line.) Instead, this is a reminder to those of us who remain in the traffic jam, who have to decide between sitting in stopped traffic and hopping off at the nearest exit in order to find alternate routes that there are two major choices in front of us. No, not the choice to stay on the highway or take surface streets.

I’m talking about the choice to be frustrated with the lack of control or to be mystified by the wonderful journey you’re experiencing.

Yeah, we always have that choice. Enjoy the ride or try and force it to be like we expect it will be. Amazingly, it’s when we enjoy it for what it is that the journey actually becomes much more like we would’ve liked to force it to be to begin with. Interesting, isn’t it?

Sure, it’s frustrating when we feel we’ve been making really good time and then we’re forced to slow down a bit. Even if we’re traveling at a good speed, if we’re suddenly going slower, it can feel bad. But I have to recommend the, “Ah, this is how it’s just supposed to be right now” feeling, if you can will it into existence, even at those toughest moments. I was recently in a meeting with the director of one of the films I’m casting and we talked about a bump in the road we had experienced a few months ago. Back then, he and I thought it was awful that we were experiencing that glitch. But at this meeting, we remarked on how relieved we are that things didn’t go as planned back then. We’re actually in a much better position now, because of the slowed traffic we had to navigate together earlier this year. But we couldn’t know that then. Just like you can’t know when you’re enduring a traffic jam that you’re actually being prevented from showing up at a certain intersection at the moment a drunk driver creams through and kills the people there.

So, when you’re traveling along at the “straight to producers, guest-star level, on the road to offer only status” clip and suddenly get asked to preread, don’t automatically assume you’re experiencing something negative. It’s quite possible that, by going in on that preread, you’re going to meet a CD who wouldn’t have known your work otherwise and who will sign on to cast something huge just a week or so later and who will remember you from that silly preread and call to offer you a plum role in something you wouldn’t even have been considered for, had you not been on that casting director’s radar via that preread.

You just can’t know the impact the intricacies of traffic will have on your ability to reach your ultimate destination on any particular schedule. Because the destination isn’t one you can plot out on a physical map and determine the amount of time it should take to get there, it becomes all the more important that you enjoy the journey. Yes, even when you’re sitting still, wondering when you’ll ever get there.

Because the other options are not enjoying the journey and getting out of the pursuit of acting altogether, why not just go ahead and enjoy the ride?


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000887.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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