Don’t panic

panic

As I’m writing this, it’s the 25th of May and I have a white towel wrapped around my neck. Why, you might ask? Well, for starters, it’s towel day and sometimes I’m just geeky like that. On the other hand, my very dear roommate just wrote me a little sticky note that says, “don’t panic” (yes, he’s sometimes also geeky like that. ;-)). But how did I get here?

Let’s rewind

Initially I wanted to write a totally different blog article today. I wanted to give an uplifting speech about making a living and a life in the arts. I wanted to tell you about all the positive (and some negative) aspects of having a broad set of skills that qualify you for so many different things that can save you from needing to pull a double shift at your local diner every Saturday. Then, my computer broke down.

Finance is a tricky thing

Okay, I’m being totally honest here. I spent all my savings on acting classes and a car I desperately needed. I’m basically living from paycheck to paycheck right now and I honestly don’t want to anymore. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands: I brushed up my excel skills (kudos to my very talented sister), browsed the web for finance blogs created especially for millennials (check out Stefanie O’Connell to get started) and created a spreadsheet and a prognosis for the entire year of 2017. I felt like I was in charge. Yes, being self-employed often involves unpredictable fluctuations in cash-flow but I felt like I could handle it if that were the case. And then my computer broke down.

Don’t panic

Yes, I was cursing the confinements of capitalism. (I might even have made a geeky joke about hitchhiking to a galaxy where capitalism doesn’t exist. :-P). Then I talked to my roommate about the fact that I needed a new computer and – quite frankly – how much that sucks because I’m currently saving up for emergencies. I just didn’t expect one to come along this quickly. And then he wrote me that little sticky note, stuck it to my now resurrected laptop and it all became clear.

A) Yes, I had made a plan but it apparently needed some adjustments and b) there is always a solution. (In my case, I looked into 0% payment plans and possibilities to cool my laptop from the outside so it doesn’t overheat.) All you need to find a solution is to stay calm and actually try to look for solutions instead of panicking about the problem.

Emergency Cheat Sheet

So, my advice to all young artists out there, whatever kind of problem you are facing:

  1. Don’t panic
  2. Make a plan
  3. Talk to someone if you need help
  4. Adjust the plan if the situation changes
  5. Succeed!

Do you have an ideal that fits you?

idealWhen you imagine the perfect musical theatre performer, what do you see?

Do you see long legs, blond hair and perfect pirouettes? Do you hear high belting sounds AND the soft legit notes? Do you see a comedic character AND somebody who can move you to tears? And most importantly, do you see all this in one single person?

Now, look at yourself. What do you see? Are you short and a little chubby and kinda weird? Did you dye your hair red, wear Doc Martens and sing on the subway? Are you taller than most guys and a mole has 20-20 vision compared to you?  Awesome!

You aren’t perfect and that’s great

So, chances are that you can’t check off all items on your perfect performer checklist (yet). And some of these ideals you will never be able to achieve, no matter how hard you try. Well, you can lose weight, wear contacts and dye your hair a different colour but you can’t change your height, the length of your legs or your bone structure. (A big no-no to plastic surgery here!!!)

So you may not fit into this ideal of yours but you are you, and – to quote Dr Seuss – “that is truer than true, there is no one alive who is youer than you”. What I’m saying is that you are unique. You are perfect in your own way. You are a completely new combination of looks, skills and personality that isn’t out there a second time.

Choose an ideal that fits you

That being said, you should rethink your ideal. Why? Because the theatre is FOR people, ABOUT people and BY people. And most importantly, the theatre is about ALL KINDS of people. And guess what, YOU are people, too.

Imagine Les Misérables without the Thénardiers, The Book of Mormon without Elder Cunningham, Hamilton without… I think you’re getting my point…

So if you do choose a performer to strive after, choose somebody real, don’t make up a fictional performing superhero in your mind. Look at Youtube videos of performers that you like and ask yourself why that is. Maybe you see some piece of yourself in them and that lets you relate.

Embrace the “imperfections”

And when you do watch them, also see that they are people, too. They are people from all different backgrounds, colour, stature, walks of life. All different inside and out. Watch them perform, be blown away and thank the Lord for the miracle you just witnessed. And then compare them to the mental checklist you had before and you will realise how ridiculous that list was.

Throw out that list right now and NEVER listen to people who are dragging you down just because you don’t fit their unrealistic checklist! Look into the mirror, tell yourself hi and start telling your stories YOUR way.

Am I good enough?

goodAm I good enough to work in musical theatre? Am I talented enough and tenacious enough to stand out from the crowd? Excellent question!

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to these questions either. Of course, I can provide an assessment of your talent and devotion but the rest of the equation is full of unknowns.

It’s not only down to you

First of all, I want to assure you that it is perfectly normal for you to ask yourself that question. I have never met a single actor who never even had a little doubt at some point of their career.

BUT: Accepting the things you cannot change is a huge portion of the job!

Being accepted at college or being cast in your dream role doesn’t only depend on you. It is also about the preferences of the casting people. Maybe they had somebody with a different voice type in mind. Maybe the candidate right before you moved them to tears. Maybe they have simply been sitting there for hours and are desperate for a break.

Take control

Yes, there are many factors you have no influence on but don’t let that get you down! Concentrate on the things you CAN work on. Don’t wait for opportunities to come looking for you, seek them out and WORK towards them. Become the best storyteller you can be because that’s what people come to the theatre for!

It’s okay to have doubts!

It doesn’t matter at which point in your career you ask yourself that question, allow yourself to feel those doubts! If they’re really bad, lock yourself in your room for a day, eat ice cream and watch cheesy movies. Use this chance to express your feelings and let them go. Never use them as an excuse not to work on yourself! Concentrate on the solutions rather than the problem itself. Because without passion and guts, all talent is worthless.

One more thing: success and failure are really matters of definition. I admit that not being cast can feel like a failure but it is also a unique chance to grow. And even if you do decide to pursue a different career one day, you will be able to look back with no regrets.

Welcome back!

welcome

Dear readers, welcome back!

I know I’ve been gone for a while but I haven’t forgotten about you. And I haven’t been lazy either. 😉

As I want to tailor the blog to your needs, I have made some changes based on the wishes that you named in your survey entries.

The first change will be – effective immediately – the change of the posting time to Saturday morning, 10 AM EST, so you can read the blog right after your morning coffee. 😉

I have also contacted a couple of people who are in casting committees at performing arts colleges and one of them has already agreed to an interview. Stay tuned so you don’t miss it. 😉

Aaaaaaaaand… drumroll… the winners of the raffle will soon be contacted, so yay! Check your spam filters, just in case. 🙂

Here’s to the start of an awesome summer! So glad to be on this journey with you!