I was going to write about the horrible audition I had last week. And I’ve been keeping the day I had three auditions in one day up my sleeve. Or I could have written about the girl that calls me the audition saviour because for some reason I can always help her out with what she needs at auditions. After the last few weeks, instead of something funny or awkward, I wanted to write about something a little more serious today. But it will probably still be funny, or at the very least awkward.
When I started studying acting my biggest fear was hitting thirty and still being a struggling actress who hadn’t ‘made it’. Mostly because I've spent so much of my life dedicated to this goal. Even before studying drama so much of my life was dedicated to performance that every other aspect was built up around the dance classes, or the shows I was in. The only reason I could do it was because I had parents willing to drive me up and down or fetch me from the theatre late at night. I had a mom who sewed sequence onto leotards, and shoes and who was both willing and able to build and paint props. When I went off to study they would drive through for shows to come and support my work. And most importantly, they took it seriously. They took my work and my studies seriously .
When an assistant lecturer post opened up in the first year of my Masters studies I asked my parents if I should take it, feeling guilty that my only income was the 2 hours of lecturing I did at a college on a Tuesday.
“Are you going to have office hours” was my mom’s only question.
“Then no. You need to be free to go for auditions. Remember, we’re in this with you”.
And they haven’t left. My mom still calls me to tell me about an actor who struggled for years to get their break-through role every time she sees or reads about it. Then my husband has joined the team.
When we got married we looked at our finances carefully. Because being an actor means uncertainty. It means that often I go a long time in between pay checks. It’s a commitment to not being committed. To making sure that you are able to go to last minute auditions. You have time to learn the words, and work on your voice, and practice the songs and find the sheet music. A 9 to 5 job would mean that I would be able to help out financially, but I wouldn’t be able to audition as much. I would be giving up on something I had spent most of my life working on, and my to-be-husband knew that. So I didn't take the 9 to5. He’s always insisted that I only do the work that I want to do, and not take jobs just because of the pay. He accepted that being an actor is almost a lifestyle choice before I was a permanent fixture, and accepted that I can’t contribute to the monthly rent. Not right now anyway.
I had one of my bad days yesterday. As actors we all get them. When it’s been quiet for a while, after a bad audition or the job you were sure of fell through. You start to question your decisions when you know you’re not shouldering your half of the bills. I looked at my husband:
“I feel like I’m not doing anything. I feel like I’m wasting my life chasing this thing.”
The man that jokingly calls me his long term investment got very serious for a moment:
“You’re auditioning all the time. You blog, and you write and you finished your masters. That’s doing a lot.”
Sometimes I forget that I'm not in this alone. I have a team behind me. A whole support system in this with me without whom I wouldn’t be where I am right now. A team I am so thankful for and that I desperately don’t want to let down. Today I start learning new scripts, for new auditions reminding myself that auditioning is working. Writing is working. And because my path is different to the paths others follow, it isn’t less valid. Especially when I’m not walking it alone.