This Actor's Soapbox: Growing Up
Being in this business comes with certain levels of emotions and of course; a price. When you first become an actor everything seems pretty awesome. You have a goal, parts that you've been dreaming of since you were a kid and new head shots that make you look amazing.
I started my career when I was just five years old. I often say seven but I usually am corrected by my mother about my first real job. Being a child runway model at a Sears department store.
I didn't have an attention span however. When I was a child I always told my mom that we needed to move to New York so I could be discovered. We never had the money to move because my dad was transferred from Framingham, Massachusetts to Connecticut for his job. He picked the town of Farmington. I grew up an outsider, everyone was rich, beautiful and lived a life of luxury around here. Being cursed with ADHD and OCD has made my life a living hell.
I struggled with my weight as a child because I had allergic reactions to medications which not only made me unhappy but also I could never concentrate. Whereas kids would act out for attention I did it for just the opposite; I couldn't do anything else. Our school system failed here, they didn't have anything decent for special needs students. I was pretty bright as a child and I worked well on computers the most. I can happily report that I'm back to my skinny self (I would barely eat as a child until I was on medication) and I'm fully off the meds.
Back then in my middle school days they said that computers weren't 'a way of learning', writing was. Paying attention to boring lectures and history lessons were. Now, in 2015 look where technology has gotten us? Everywhere. You see it in stores, in television advertisements, advertisements in magazines and billboards in Time Square.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that living a difficult life and working hard for anything that has come stumbling down my path has strengthened me as an actor and in life. I recently came out as bi-sexual. And yeah I know, it's been a lot of that lately. In the news, everywhere. All of this gay rights stuff and everyone's attention drawn to it. My mom still doesn't fully accept it, sometimes rolls her eyes but I know she knows what it means to me.
I love my girlfriend and I've always been insecure about not only my disabilities but also the patterns of the bridges I've burned throughout my life.
My mom always said I would have been famous by now if I had paid attention. Talent scouts wanted me, modeling agents wanted me but I'd never sit still. Never follow directions. I didn't have money to pay my way into fancy recording studios or big giant classes. I worked for it. Took on crappy chorus roles as a child and slowly built up into leads. When I was 13 I was blessed with the role of the Narrator in Joseph the musical at The Greater Hartford Academy of Arts.
I remember seeing the casting paper pinned to the board, screaming at the top of my lungs. I was so lucky. There were other girls who auditioned in the same studio room with the same song as me. I had so much confidence and I never faltered.
Right now it feels like I'm Carrie Bradshaw with this blog, I feel like I could write about anything on my little soap box. There will always be judgment in the world and I thank you for listening to whatever I have to say.
If you're out there in the same boat as me or worse then you know what I mean. You start out as a child, get all of the leads and opportunities and suddenly you're in your twenties with jack squat. I've gone to so many agencies and showed off my down-to-earth attitude and all I get in return is that they have enough pretty, twenty-something brunettes in their rosters.
And I always think of how many people they have out there in equity and how many whiny singing voices half of the girls have. I've been compared to Linda Eder ever since I was eight years old and all I could wonder was why isn't my type being seen? Well the problem is, half of the time they don't even get to see you. The way you sing, what you sing. They assume you're just another pretty, twenty-something brunette.
I like to tell it like it is, it's opened a lot of doors for me and it's also gotten me into trouble. But that's me, that's how I operate. You look up to all of these actresses in Hollywood who have been busting their buns to get where they are. Not the ones who made tapes or grew up rich but the ones who came from nothing and fought their way to the top.
That's me. I mean, I wasn't exactly poor enough that I lived in the ghetto, but we were just barely making ends meet. My parents went bankrupt at one point in my life.
It doesn't matter where you come from or how much money you make, it matters that you really want it and are passionate enough to never quit. There are days it always comes down to one girl and myself in a callback room and it's always the other girl that gets it. Or, there are days of great auditions where you did your best and know you're as good if not better than some of the girls in the room and you get nothing.
You weren't the right type or the right vision that the director had. You submit videos online and get nothing. You wait in Equity auditions and aren't even seen. The egos, the insecurities. Everything all comes into play and suddenly you're wondering one thing. Why the hell am I doing this? Why am I putting myself through this day after day, week after week?
Because you love it. You don't care about the agents that turn their nose up to you, you don't care about the girls who hate you or are so stuck on themselves. You care about the art and your ability to mold your craft into something extraordinary. There will always be someone out there better than you, but that doesn't mean you should stop trying.
It means you keep going no matter what. And as I step into this column with my first real writing gig I have a question for all of my readers out there. Why do you do what you do and how do you stay strong through all of your obstacles?
You're not alone, always remember that.