"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

Monday, August 15, 2011

Owning the Actress in the Struggling Actress

Six months ago or so, my fiance introduced me to a few people at a party he had just met. "She's an actress," he beamed.

On the way home, I asked him not to introduce me as such ever again, because in social circles in LA, saying someone is an actress sounds like you're also saying, "but you wouldn't know, cause she's really a waitress."

Um. What? What is wrong with me? Why does saying I'm an actress sometimes feel like I'm saying a bad word?

Freud would say it's because deep down, I really hate myself. And want to sleep with my father.

And maybe Freud is onto something.

I mean, my dad really is a good looking guy... but no.

So maybe I hate myself.

Maybe not myself, per se, but I hate that we're in the 8th month of this year and I've only booked 6 things. Six. I'm not even booking work once a month.

Now, yes, in past years, I have booked even less than that, so this is something I should be proud of. And I've gotten to the point where if people ask, "have you been in anything I've seen?" I can actually say, "Yup!" and list a few things.

But it makes me wonder: is this feeling of constant struggle ever going to end? I mean, I could book a recurring on a soap and be SUPER HAPPY, but then, I wonder if I'll look at it and think, "It was just a soap."

Is this how someone feels throughout their career?

Anyways, cut to my lovely guy, listening to me patiently, if not bewilderingly. "But you ARE an actress! And you're really good!"

I would say, maybe it's because I haven't booked anything for a while, but um, I just shot a commercial for a video game last Friday, so that's not it.

Maybe it's because when I work, it's usually for only a day and I'm inbetween jobs for weeks. It's like, YAY! I am WORKING! and then I go home and stress WHEN IS MY NEXT GIG?!

Maybe I just need a vacation away from the city and this lifestyle so I can re-evaluate. Re-evaluate how hard I've been working, how much I love this, and be re-inspired by the whole system.

That sounds kind of lovely, right?


  1. you know something funny? my fiance recently told me he never really thought of me as an actress but that he always tells people i'm a writer. granted, i haven't pursued acting in years. but it made me waaayyyyy more nervous to have people think of me as a 'writer' because there is more invested in it for me. somehow, being a failed actress doesn't have the same stigma when attached to my name whereas if i failed at writing, i would be devastated. that's probably why i've never tried to be published. why i've never stuck with my book. hmm. good food for thought, lady. thank you.

  2. Great post Lira. Just had the same moment of truth on a date with a guy recently. It was my first time meeting "the friends" and they immediately asked what I had been in lately.

    It is a really test isn't it. But rest assured, if you are booking even one paid job a month, you ARE a working actress and you deserve that title. Rock that title missy.

  3. Lira - don't know if you're a fan of the comedian Louis C.K. and his show 'Louie' It's on FX - I don't have cable so I watch on hulu, and the most recent episode to go on hulu has Joan Rivers in it - I think it's a must watch for people like us - Joan talks to Louie about her career - it's brilliant.

  4. Own it, you ARE AN ACTRESS. Doesn't matter whether you are Tom Cruise or Police Officer #5, you still are an actor.

  5. Oh Lira! I know that feeling all too well! But never think for one second that this feeling of (almost) being ashamed to admit that you are an actress has much to say about you.

    Freud might be right in some ways. This feeling you have when introduced as an actress does say that maybe you think you don't deserve being what you want to be, that it is somehow bad. But that is something that our society constantly suggests. Whenever someone follows their dream, there are jealousy and misguided value judgements to contend with.

    People who are swimming against the current, which most artists are, are constantly told that whatever they do, it's never good enough, valuable enough, unless they have absolute economic success at the same time.

    But it can't be society or economics that can determine your right to be an actress and your worth as an artist and human being. The only person who can do that is you.

    That's the beauty and the difficulty of being an artist; you're the one determining what 'success' means to you. You're the one to determine what 'working as and being an actress' means.

    You don't stop being and working as an actress just because you only got paid for it six(!!!) times this year. You are an actress because you want to be. And you hone your craft constantly, you create your own opportunities and do the same for others. You network, educate yourself, audition as much as the market permits. You're always more than prepared, you stay on top of things, and you work your behind off every single day. How many people can say that about themselves?

    Don't let others determine who you are or who you should be. Hold your head high and be proud, no matter where you are and what you do, and let it be enough that you know you're speaking the truth when you say, 'I AM AN ACTRESS.'


  6. Luna - that is an EXCELLENT idea....

  7. Just keep remembering that whether it's 6 bookings in 8 months or 1 booking in 8 years, you're inspiring us all in whatever field we may be in because at the end of the day, you're doing what you WANT to do and what makes you SHINE. Some of us get to do that with less frequency than you, though we claim that we have more stable careers...it's kind of a lie :P

    I just keep looking forward to seeing you on the screen (tv, computer, whatever) because it means that someone's star is shining and that gives me hope :) Don't lose yours!


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