I think this is one of those stories that successful actors tell as they drag on their cigarettes during press tours in swanky hotel rooms, or at least they did in the 1980s when you could still smoke in hotel rooms. I have to believe that that is what this is - just part of some giant cosmic joke designed to test my patience, and determination. Yes, ladies and gentlemen - this past Sunday may have contained one of the most ironic moments of my life. It was 10 AM, and I was exhausted after three straight nights of crashing tiff events. I had an early (noon) first time meeting with the director of a film I am in which shoots in October, and noon is early when you have been to bed at 4AM every night after attending events and then coming home to continue working on a big tiff event I was hosting for Raindance Canada the following night. After dressing (God, can't I have one day where I don't have to wear this much make-up?), and rushing out the door and 15 minutes down the road; I realized I had forgotten to scrounge around the house for change for the subway as I would need it to get to a rehearsal I had right after the meeting out in Scarborough for 'Bedtime Stories.' A Norm Foster play where I play Sandy the accident prone stripper - which runs in October.
I had a pleasant meeting with the director, but didn't feel right asking him for change (why can't I ask directors to pay me? - but I digress) so I started to walk to Broadview station thinking I would maybe try to sneak in (I know, it's terrible, but I have a real hate-on for the TTC). On the way up Broadview from Queen I started to think about this situation in which I found myself. I had all of $10 in my bank account - which I quickly discovered was not enough to purchase tokens in a store (they only come in 5 packs which cost $13) - and was unable to take the $10 out of a bank machine (and running out of time). I decided to call a friend and ask her to email transfer $10 to me so I could take out $20 to buy tokens and get to Warden station. I knew it would take some time for the transfer to go through so I decided to walk.
*as an aside I would like to add a little rant in here about the TTC and the fact that I can not pay for a ride with my bank card since the archaic system only accepts debit cards for monthly passes. I HATE THE TTC.
While walking I ran into a friend on the corner of Broadview and Danforth - a dear friend who is in a position to hire me for some part time work so I wouldn't have to find myself in the position of having no $ again. I started to catch her up on what I have been doing - the whole acting thing, and how I have been really concentrating on letting go of some thought patterns that I felt like were blocking me from success - particularly financial thought patterns. Every time I audition for a commercial or something paid I don't do as well. I often do fine on the first audition and then get a call back, but in the call back I am just not relaxed enough. And somehow, while talking about all of this with her I worked myself up enough to start crying. I was so embarrassed for starting to cry on the street corner that I felt way to badly to ask her for change either so I said goodbye and continued walking and waiting for the email transfer.
I got almost as far as Donlands - still feeling sorry for myself and crying into my sunglasses - when I spotted a TD bank and thought I would wait for the transfer to come in so I could withdraw the money from there in order to avoid the fees of using another bank. I went to sit down on a parking lot cinderblock and meditate - to try to remove the negative energy I must have around money to make it so that I have none and, as I looked up to the sky to ask God WHY I let myself get into this situation, I saw this:
You've got to be fu*king kidding me. I don't have $3 to get on the subway, but there I am on a Godda*ned billboard. (In a $60 Le Chateau wedding dress). Don't get me wrong - I am VERY grateful for this job which I landed after coming to Toronto from New York in July. There is a youtube commercial playing as well which I have yet to see, and I was paid about $300 for the shoot if I remember correctly. BUT I am sitting here crying because I am broke and wondering if I am going to have the tenacity to push through this into the promised land of fame and fortune (or at least more than $15k a year) and some incarnation of me with a 2 foot smile is trotting down the isle in a polyester wedding dress.
I'm not sure I have been this broke in a very very long time. As I sat there (with my belly growling) I wondered "Did I do this for dramatic effect? So my triumphs will be that much greater when I do see some success? Am I punishing myself for something? Am I a masochist?"
We all have different ways in which we sabotage ourselves in order to make real the beliefs we carry around that we made up at some point in our childhood. This particular one for me has to do with not feeling like I deserve to have the necessities of life. For a few years (age 11-15) I lived with my Dad and he had a difficult time ensuring that I was fed. I didn't have lunch money or a bagged lunch and I would ask my friends for things they weren't going to eat or stand by the trading table waiting for someone to get rid of something they didn't want - hand-me-down food. It was humiliating, and I dreaded lunch times because of it.
While preparing for this tiff party I was throwing I was insistent that my friends who are actors come to the event in order to network as it was to be filled with filmmakers and film financiers that they could meet with the potential to be cast in their projects. A large number of them did not show up, some of them did, but without business cards. I have been thinking a lot about all of the wonderful actors I know who are just waiting to be discovered in a Starbucks and don't take any of the self promotion stuff on because of whatever self sabotaging thoughts THEY have, and I get really frustrated with them. I wonder if this is how my close friends feel about me. Not making sure I have money for food and transportation is abusive and is getting in the way of my approaching my career with the knowledge that my basic needs are being met. Sort of like writing a math test with a growling tummy.
I have been thinking about offering a class in self promotion and branding for my fellow actors because so many of them need support in this area. Most of them are really good at feeding themselves and making sure they have some form of income. Maybe they can teach me a class in how to make sure I have subway money and I can teach a class in how to make it look like you are a great success. :s
Even more ironically - the party I threw for Raindance WAS a great success. Everyone at the party was whispering that I was a big rising star and had an HBO show (what?, not yet!). In real life, and because of the party, I was lucky enough to be offered a pretty exciting role for a film with a big comedic star that shoots in Canada in March. That's right - a PAID role. Now if I could only find a job in the meantime that will let me run out three times per week for auditions, leave for a few days in October to shoot in New York then again to New York in November for a stand up comedy show, and meetings in Los Angeles, and also be gone for a feature film shoot in Toronto in February, and one in Montreal in March - then I would be ok and able to afford bus fare and maybe even pay the rent.
I know that I am on the cusp of manifesting my dreams, and that all of these issues are small scale compared to what many people deal with in their lives. The frustrating thing for me is that I know I don't have to have these issues. I know that I am capable of taking care of myself financially. I have a lot of skills. Where my friends don't go 100% after their acting goals because they are afraid of being financially unstable - I don't get financially stable because I am afraid it is going to pull my focus away from the only career I have ever had that brings me 100% joy. I am so terrified of missing a minute of being an actor - especially after spending my entire life longing to allow the spotlight to fall upon me that I don't want to spread my attention elsewhere and risk hiding from it again.
The wonderful friend I ran into on the street told me that she has a few friends that are quite famous who have all said they wished they could go back to the place they were just before they made it. The place where they had creative control and didn't have to spend so much time working on the business side of things. I guess I shouldn't judge the place I am in so harshly, nor the place where many of my friends are. Maybe their creative payoffs far outweigh their financial ones and they don't long for external validation enough to sacrifice their dignity for it.
I'm not sure if that's the case with me, but what I do know is that there is a great freedom I feel in being able to devote all of my time to what I love, and, in most moments, I feel faithful that it will all work out, and I won't have to worry about starving, but in other moments I still sit on the street and cry.
Freedom's just another word for nothing left to loose Nothing, I mean nothing honey if it ain't free, no no Yeah feeling good was easy Lord when he sang the blues You know feeling good was good enough for me Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.