Here is what I know. Instead of paying attention to actors who are doing a scene, I am writing this hidden behind a music stand. But I am good at pretending to pay attention to other actors when I am not really paying attention to other actors. Learn this skill early.
Here is what I know. Many of you ask me for advice. You ask me what it's like to have this career. You ask me how to pursue it when it seems like you can't or are scared to. I actually don't know if I'm qualified to tell you anything other than how much I love rhinestones and Mac n Cheese, but I find myself with 5 minutes between scenes I'm in (which is 5 minutes too long) and I'm on a crappy level of Candy Crush so here goes. I love a good rambling.
Here is what I know. I'm really good at my job. Like, really good. I assume you will be really really good too. But on a daily basis others will freely express their completely opposite opinion of your job skills either to your face, online, or through a third party. (Most times this will be an agent, but it really would sound better coming from some sort of actual party I think. Ah well.)
Here is what I know. I cannot imagine not getting to do what I love, and there will be more times than not where you will sit on the couch in your fat pants reading endless websites screaming at you about other people getting jobs and you will feel like you may never get the chance to do what you love again...until you get to do what you love again. Hopefully in your fat pants, but probably not. Not many costume designers favor fat pants, sadly.
Here is what I know. You will want to give up your dream. You will want to give up your dream on a daily basis. It's okay to think that. We all think that. You won't give up. You will eat a cookie instead and continue on the next day where you will either be told you didn't get another job or you actually did get the job. Either way, you will eat more cookies.
Here is what I know. You picked a profession where you will be given the gift of feedback. You probably didn't ask for this glorious gift, but you shall receive it, even though a simple "yes you did get the job," or "no thanks, homie" would suffice, because it doesn't change the outcome. Here is a sampling of the gifts I have received just in the past two weeks alone. I am so fortunate:
"She's too old."
"She's not old enough."
"The choreographer thought others danced more cleanly."
"The choreographer thought she danced too cleanly for his style."
"She was hysterical! So funny! She really gets it!"
"She just didn't quite get the humor of the piece."
"She looks AMAZING!"
"Has she put on weight?"
"She's just not famous enough."
Now, this last gift implies I have any fame at all, so I suppose that's a win? Anyway, you get my point. Or you don't. Thicken your skin. It's all absurd and confusing, eat another cookie.
Here is what I know. You must surround yourself with only the best people. Seriously. If someone around you doesn't love you the way you love yourself, buh bye. You don't need them. You have enough drama in your life between oh, actual dramatic text and not being able to wear fat pants onstage. Surround yourself with peeps who celebrate your triumphs, who pick you up after failed auditions, who pick up your dog's explosive diarrhea because you have to be at a callback. It may even be a callback they weren't called back to -- but they are RAD peeps. Have people in your life that will hold your figurative hand through a performance hours after your father dies and you aren't sure you will be able to breathe, much less perform. Keep only those peeps.
Here is what I know. You deserve to call yourself Queen, King, President, Supreme Ruler, or Head Fart Head of your life. Whatever you want to call yourself, just make sure you RULE. It is your life, your kingdom. No one else will give you a title (at least one you would like), so give one to yourself.
Here is what I know. Lots of people won't "get" you. There is no possible way that everyone will like you or think you are as talented, pretty, or as smart as you think you are. Certainly no one will ever think I am as talented, pretty, or smart as I think I am. Some (many) will think you just plain old suck butt. They may even write about how much you suck butt in the papers and online. You must fake curse them (unless you know real curses, then please DM me), and forge on. I like the word forge. It's fun to say. Forge. Forge.
Here is what I know. It will not be easy. You will wonder why it's not happening. Or sometimes wonder why it IS happening. That's hard too, if you aren't prepared for it. You will cry. You will cry by yourself. You will cry by yourself as you post an uplifting tweet to try to make yourself and others feel better, but then you will binge eat and cry more. This is OKAY. I don't trust anyone who doesn't sometimes binge eat while watching themselves cry in the mirror. As long as you take a picture of yourself crying, Snapchat filter it, make yourself laugh (I wouldn't post...), and then keep going. You know...forge on (tee hee).
Here is what I know. You will pretend not to care about the people who don't think you are a talent god, but you will care. You will. You do. I do. Again, totally okay. You will read the reviews, the message boards, the tumblr devoted to hating you because you gave stank eye to someone taking an illegal picture of you onstage from below and you know you will have quintuple butt chunk in said pic, hence the stank eye. Enjoy. It's part of being on display like a zoo animal for your job. You must find a way to be at peace with it. Peace. That makes me think of peas, and not everyone likes peas. Ooh! Think of it that way. You are peas! This one isn't going so well...
Here is what I know. Everything is temporary. That feeling of not being good enough will go away. It will. Then it will return. Then it will go away again. It will never leave you. Like my 5 pound cookie weigh variable. Deal with it. Even the people who seem the most confident doubt themselves. Do not let it consume you. You are good enough. You are peas! Crap, I didn't want to use that again...
Here is what I know. Your life and/or career will not turn out how you wanted it to. It may be better. It may not be. If it's not, change it. Go fish. Pick another card from the pile. Going in a different direction than you are used to is frightening (not for me as my sense of direction is shit and I never know where I'm going anyway), but sometimes you have to change course. Err, cards. I started this metaphor with cards, now I'm on maps, so...yes. Your plans will forever be changing. They can't be mapped out. Your life is the Marauder's Map. Change with it (and watch out for Snape).
Here is what I know. Do what is in your heart, not what you think you should be doing. Be you. Not the robo actor who must be perfect at all times, or the one who has to stay "on brand." Ugh. Barf and farts at the same time. BE. YOU. Not the version you think people want to see. YOU. Speak you mind. Create whatever da frack you want to create. GET YOUR IDEAS OUT. Stop worrying if people will like it or not, because, as I said earlier, yes they won't.
Here is what I know. You cannot give up. Sometimes you will want to. Man, will you want to. But you can't. I'll slap you. I'll slap you with a bag of frozen peas (see what I did there). You may have to take a crappy side job. You may (will) have to deal with assy people flaunting their successes on Fartbook. You will have doors slammed in your face, and then as you are standing on that very doorstep trying to make sure your nose isn't broken from the door, the sprinklers will go off, but you are never allowed to give up on your dream. If "a dream is a wish your heart makes," then you giving up is a totes slap in the face of your heart (hearts have faces), and I wouldn't be surprised if it just stopped working for you. I would.
Here is what I know. No matter where you are in your career, you are loved. You are loved, supported, and encouraged by an amazing community of people who know exactly what you are going through to achieve your dream. Your wins, your heartbreaks, your debuts, your closings, your unemployment, your fat pants. You are never alone. That sounded creeper creeps -- alone in the metaphorical sense, no the I'm watching you like a creeper sense. Do not give up and become a truck driver (advice given to me by a rad friend last week after I entertained the idea of driving a pink big rig for life). Unless, you know, becoming a truck driver is your dream, then by all means crush it.
Here is what I know. That rude song that had the auditory audacity to not include me is thankfully over and I have to go. Nope...I get to go do what I love. Pretty damn rad.
Here is what I know. You rule. I know it.
by Queen Lesli