Remember FAME ?
Not, actual fame. Because just no. The movie. Debbie Allen ‘Fame.’ Poor exploited-by-that-industrial-douche Coco ‘Fame.’ Loved that movie. Wasn’t allowed to see it and loved it all the more because of that. You know what stuck for me in movie? The hurt. The real hurt those kids learned. The scene where the acting teacher tells them that they better really like themselves, because no one else is gonna? Woof. Harsh. But so, so , so true.
One of the hardest things about making your way and not drowning as an artist is liking yourself. Which is hilarious, because so few of us do. But, really, you have to like yourself. So much so that you can sell yourself. To total strangers. That hate you. Okay, that’s probably an exaggeration. Probably.
I doubt myself everyday as an actor. And doubt as a writer? Yeah. Lots more doubt where that came from. So aside from improving my skills/technique/general stuff as a writer and actor, the biggest hurdle is becoming a become salewoman. And sitting here right now, I’m a really lousy saleswoman. I’ve experienced enough of this world of film and stage and show business to really see just how monumentally important the BUSINESS end of it is. Truly. It is so much business compared to the sliver of show. It’s a glitzy, shiny, shimmying teeny sliver of show. But still. You can have the most amazing, script and eventually film. If ain’t nobody seeing it or buying it, that doesn’t make it any less of an amazing project. But it don’t get the next one made.
Tonight, I went out to take a step to get the next one made. In small markets like this, sometimes filmmakers screen their stuff in bars. Which is okay. Wine and cider with my movies? Yes. Because I’m really into cider right now. It might be a problem. I’ll get back to you. But, being the middle-aged mom I am, and being friends with a cohort that is the same population, means sometimes you go to film things in bars alone. Which takes some moxy. Usually more than I have. But tonight, I gathered up what I had and tried.
That’s about as far as I got. I sat at the end of the bar with my cider and waited for the films to start. The crowd was small. Tiny even. Not just numbers, I’m talking jean sizes. These boys did not know their way around a box of doughnuts. Especially the cherry glazed. But back to the films. I don’t know much about any films or trailers. I can’t speak to the writers, actors or filmmakers I met there representing their hard work. I won’t be sending out a pile of head shots, resumes and reels today. Because I failed.
The purpose of the night was to engage. I did not. The smart, BUSINESS minded actor, would have stayed. Watched every trailer and short. Tracked down every director, scripty and grip. Talked. Bought drinks. Offered space on collective social media dance cards. I was no where in that fray. I was still tucked in a corner at the end of the bar. At least I was. Until I bailed.
Not a total loss. I did see a trailer for an upcoming locally made horror film, Brew House. It was filmed in a crumbling building here on our city’s south side. I acted in a series of stage plays there years ago. A fantastic experience. The site was spot on for the dark theater we were producing. Not to speak ill of the dead, but that pile of bricks and metal was made to double as an abattoir. Such an astute move for these filmmakers to use this location to its fullest. Was anyone there from the film? I have no idea. I didn’t step outside myself long enough to ask. I did, however, send a message to an actor that I had previously worked with who also appeared in this film. I hung on to see that trailer. I’m glad I did. It was good.
I know. Lame. How do I go so far out on the edge of my own comfort zone? Sit quietly. Then leave. A self-marketing strategy that boggles the mind and slays the competition. And I know. Still lame. This technique of hiding at the edges does not get the cream in the cupcake or myself first ( or second, or seventh) on the call sheet.
It’s more than that. Ladies like me of a certain age and of a certain situation, we would do well to learn to be in a space alone. Leaning in, boss lady and all the catch phrases aside, I know I need to become okay by myself. Because it is okay. And being out to see and experience in any way, only promotes growth as an actor, a writer, a mom, and oh, yeah, as an actual person.
Outside of the world of make-believe, and maybe inside it as well, does being able to be alone make you better when you are with someone? I suspect. You’ll have to ask the adorable man I left home alone on the couch while I went out to sit and fret and stare for confirmation.
But, for tonight, I tried. I didn’t do well, but I didn’t do too bad for me. I only walked past the joint twice before having the courage of my conviction and getting my ass in the door. Maybe eventually, I’ll be the girl that walks up and says hello. The actor that says with full conviction, “I am the best choice. Hire me.” And almost mean it. Maybe I’m getting there. Maybe I’m building a lovely and elaborate ruse which will find me this Saturday night fully encamped under my blanket with pumpkin pie and episodes of Charmed. Or just maybe, I’ll keep trying to like myself enough to just keep trying.
Trying what? More writing – maybe new fiction here soon. You heard it here first kids, so now I have to do it. More acting work. Please by the blessed boobs of Juno, more acting work. Maybe learn how to use this site/platform/general tech so it looks like something…other than my kid sending me a stream-of-consciousness text that ends with an ask for “choking car mole pop car” or as you know it, chocolate caramel popcorn. I’ll fail. Miserably on all fronts. But I’ll keep trying.
Coco would be proud.