"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Late 20's Problem

I'm producing a project with a major fun surprise for the audience (keep your eyes peeled for the breakdown, which will go out on AA either tomorrow or Tuesday!) with two girls I've worked with before and admire greatly. Two very different people, two very different lives, and yet...all three of us are in the same spot.

And one of them, the youngest in our three, is having a major and sad epiphany that I think we all get once we hit our late 20s and the big Three Oh is coming at us faster than we had expected:

We aren't where we want to be professionally.

We're acting (some of us more than others), we're auditioning (some of us more than others), but we do not have the lifestyle we dreamed up for ourselves when we were 12.

I'm not talking about being famous, I'm talking about just having a few more films and tv shows under our belts. A career that's growing steadily. A career that is obviously going places.

But ours, to put it bluntly, isn't.

This isn't the same game it once was. Studios aren't making as many films as they used to, so all the actors normally working in film are now doing lead roles in tv. And every actor at a tier below has also majorly downshifted.

The actors who should have gotten their pilots a few years ago, still haven't, and the waiters and bartenders who should've gotten their big break a few years ago, still haven't, and the actors like us, who came into this game at what I like to think, was the exact worst time, don't have much on our resumes, and can't get looked at because of it.

If you're not rich, not related to someone already in the business, not willing to go on a reality show to become a villain, or a nipped and tucked housewife, or an Italian meatball, what happens to you, when you hit your late 20s?

You cry.

A lot.

And you re-evaluate EVERYTHING you've done for the last decade, wondering if it was all for naught. Yes, you followed your dream, but there comes a point where we say either, "I agree to keep scrounging for rent," or, "I am going to start my family."

We were one of the lucky ones to have followed our hearts, but after ten years, it becomes time to start following our uteruses.

Some of us do exactly that.

And if you are one of them, I want to say to you, and listen closely:

You did not fail.

You did NOT fail.

What you want has shifted and that's okay. It happens to everyone! It's called growth! (and if you still want the same thing, that too is growth!)

And if you're an actress, a struggling one in her late 20s, know that this epiphany of babies vs stardom isn't really what it is.

You are not choosing between the two! 

You are, and will always be a storyteller. You might find different ways to tell stories, you might keep telling stories the same way. You might have a baby, you might decide not to, but regardless, you will not stop being who you are, ever.

There is no need to be embarrassed of anything. You will be the mom who did everything she could to follow her dreams, and you will be the mother who encourages and supports her child to do the same. You know what it's like to work hard, to make sacrifices, and the lessons you learned along the way, you'll be able to pass onto your child at an early age.

Do not think having a child somehow means you are giving up on acting. You can make room in your heart for both. Your love of acting might manifest itself in different ways with your child, because you're not just an actress; you're a storyteller. And you'll have someone to tell stories to for the next 40 or 50 years.

If you want to have a child, and if you want to act, there are many, many actresses in this town who can tell you you can have both because they do.

And the best part is - taking a year off to have your child, to bond with your baby, might change you enough and give you a whole new look and perspective to put into your work, and put you into a different category than you are in now.

And maybe that will be your key to booking the roles and getting the career you want.

You don't know.

But you should try. 

Because, we ladies, in our late 20s, have sometimes felt like we've put the rest of our lives on hold to pursue acting. But we don't have to anymore.

I think that's what the end result of the breakdown is - we don't define who we are by our resumes, and we can live this acting life on our own terms. We are not going miss another friend's bridal shower to stay in town because we might miss an audition. No! We are going to finally live life!

That's what the big Three Oh should be for everyone - an event to help you realize that we really DO get to live our life on our own terms.

And it's time to start living it that way.



  1. Thank you for this post! I'm actually coming up on my own big Two Oh but as I'm starting my own career in theatre I've had to acknowledge that this is not a lifestyle stable for children at least in the next ten years, so thank you for reminding me that a decade is not a life sentence. Someday (when I hit the Three Oh?) I'm sure to reconsider and I hope I remember this post when that time comes.

  2. You should read this to the girl that had that breakdown. I think she'd really, really like to hear it from you.

    You are such a good person, and a good friend. And you have a beautifully gigantic heart.

    I'm so happy you're in my life.

  3. amen, sister.
    i always say i didn't give up acting when i got pregnant.
    i just gave up pursuing it as a living.
    i still love it.
    i always will.
    i'm just accepting that i might never ever make a living doing it.
    but how can i feel cheated when i met the one and only tracy clifton in class, right?

  4. I have been through this very thing! So glad to hear I am not the only one. Thanks for sharing. I couldn't agree more!

  5. This was really touching. The closest I'd ever be to becoming a mother is becoming a father, but I can't say that I've not given it some serious thought about what I want to have when I turn 30. I'm just glad I'm not the only one who's had the same thoughts about where I thought I'd be by now and if I can keep going with it for another few years. Thanks Lira.


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