Monday, May 16, 2005

You Forget What It's Like

Recently, I've been pushing this guy in my class to be more proactive with his career. But like most of us who have barely gotten our feet wet in this industry, it's a scary thing. Probably one of the scariest.

I know many people who are gung-ho to be an actor and after one year they are ready to go home and cry to mommy. Hey, I was too! In fact, every time I go out and do a lousy audition, I feel like crying to mommy. Unfortunately, that's a little impossible for me.

Right now, I go to work, 9:30 in the morning. Wake up at 8, drink some coffee, get ready for the day.

Today at 12:30 I had a print audition all the way across town near Silverlake. But it felt fun getting in my car, driving up the 405 to the 101, getting off at Sunset, head west a mile, then drive up Vermont. I got my favorite music pumping and I'm getting dressed in the car.

Today, I had this epiphany. I feel very fortunate to be doing this kind of work. I have an agent. I do some occasional work. I even get paid for it. Man, that's a great experience not many can share.

The funny thing is, I don't even remember the transition from my previous life into this one. It was either very gradual or really abrupt. I just can't decide. But I do remember the struggle, trying to get an agent. Wondering if my headshots are any good. Wondering if I'm good-looking enough, tall enough, etc. After 6 months and no phone call, I got terribly discouraged. And that's when I tore my Achilles tendon while playing basketball.

Actually, what happened was the day before, I had been training with a man by the name of Jesse Glover. I don't want to explain who he is, but if you're curious enough to find out, you might do some research. Two days later, I was supposed to train with Taky Kimura. But the day in between -- that was the day I played basketball and tore my Achilles. All this took place in my hometown of Seatle, by the way. It ended up being a long and expensive vacation.

I agonized over the situation, mostly because I didn't have health insurance. Surgery is expensive. Just the anesthesiologist (sp?) cost hundreds of dollars per hour. But my brother suggested a surgeon who we often played basketball with. So I called him and he gave me his best price. What a guy. I saw him recently too and thanked him. I should send him a card and really thank him.

Anyway, while recovering on pain medication and hanging out on my dad's couch, I got a call on my cell phone. It was an 818 number. Turns out, they were a commercial agency and were finally going through some headshots and found mine in a stack. They wanted me to come in for an audition. I told them I was in Seattle, and, uh, oh, by the way, I'm on crutches. They said they would make a note of it.

Walking through an airport with your baggage while using crutches is a tremendous chore, so they make it easy for you. They get someone to either wheel you to the gate or they drive you there in one of those electric carts. But once you get off the plane, you're all on your own.

I borrowed my friend's car because my SUV has a manual transmission. The battery died on the way there, so I had to buy a new one. It was late summer, so I sweated through my shirt and pants. I hobbled up to the agent's door on my crutches, filled out some paperwork, then had my introduction to the head agent. She must've felt sorry for me, because she asked another agent to talk to me too. Then, after I left, I got a call for a follow-up interview. After that happened, they said they wanted to sign me. Imagine that. Someone actually wanted to sign me.

A week after I had signed, I got two more phone calls from different agents, all wanting to interview me. What?! I wait 6 months and nothing. Now, I got every agent in the world calling me. Well, not really. But it felt like that for a couple of days.

It's been over 5 years with my agency now. I'm not terribly successful. Never booked a national. Gotten close. But I make a few dollars for my agency and me. I guess it's enough to keep me on the roster. After three years with them, they asked if I had a print agent and I said no. So they signed me for that too. I think I make more money for them on print than commercials now. Go figure.

Tomorrow, I have a commercial audition in Santa Monica, not too far from where I work. It's at 2pm, lunchtime. I gotta play a daddy.

No, I wouldn't trade my life experience for much else. It's pretty cool what I do. Even if I don't book a whole lot of jobs. Sometimes it's just the experience that matters.

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