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I'm proud to tell anybody who asks that I am 45 years old. It's even better to add that I've NEVER been an out of work actress and started my career on "Romper Room," at the age of 5. ***Romper Room Television Show Info - Click Here***
That's right, I HAVE NEVER been an "Out of Work Actor." I actually find it insulting to be told I'm out of work, because we all WORK as actors, it's just that we are working without getting paid. How many of us are experts at auditioning? Some of you might even be able to obtain a college degree in that line of work :-).
I know that auditioning is a fact of life in our profession. People in the business scold me for telling them that I HATE auditioning. Apparently, according to these other actors, I'm not dedicated to my career if I hate any part of it. This usually comes from the mouths of actors whom have been auditioning for months without booking anything :-).
Of course I understand all about auditions. What to wear, what not to wear, how to behave, being prepared, all of that. However, I don't have a Master's Degree in auditioning, my Master's is in Performing Arts. In addition, I combined enough courses to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature
I love learning, even learning about subjects which have nothing at all to do with my career. Subjects such as how to build a free-standing garden swing, which I accomplished...see?
Of course, just like any other actor or performing artist, I attend workshops, classes, and so on. My parents signed me up for private vocal lessons when I was 4 years old, and I have had a vocal coach ever since.
I participate in Community Theatre too. Why? It's a lot of time to spend without pay, right? I think of it from a completely different angle, however. First of all, I have always included my acting experience (paid or unpaid) on my resume. All casting directors want to see is the role you played (lead?) and when the show was performed. I've never been asked if they paid me for the part. So, it's a plus for your resume experience. Second, why would I take a class to sharpen my acting skills when I can get even better information for FREE? I keep my skills fresh, I'm able to see how a live audience reacts to my performances, I'm able to connect with younger actors fresh from college (or in school) who have new techniques they can show me, it's absolutely the best way to network, and, best of all, it's FUN! I would have never even considered performing on a live stage as an actress, comedian or singer if it was boring.
Now, if you happen to be a film actor, you can also perform for little to no pay. I'd recommend auditioning for college films and independent movies whenever you feel that you are auditioning all of the time. Take a break and freshen up those skills of yours! It's not a waste of time or money when you choose to take the experience as a chance to learn, network and list on your resume!
How do you KNOW you need to pause your own career as a performing artist and either attend college or, possibly, assist as a volunteer, teaching kids for the summer or for school? When you audition more often than you are landing gigs. None of us should be professionals in the field of auditioning. Auditions should never take up most of your time, so, after only landing one out of 5 bookings over these past few months, I knew I needed to sharpen my skills.
It's not an easy choice for me, for any of us. I am blessed financially, due to my GPA when I graduated from both High School and College, my husband is a Disabled-Retired Combat Veteran (the military has a few grants for spouses and dependents), plus, I qualify for several other grants too. What worries me most, and I suspect it would worry any of us in this business, is how future directors will look at my resume after 4 years off the grid, so to speak.
Therefore, I'm going to be a part of any shows put on by the college for the public or student body (on or off stage). I'll continue with Community Theatre too. As I said before, directors don't care if you were paid or not for a role, they just look at when you were in the show and what character you portrayed.
I hope something I've said here regarding education has hit home for a few of you. I realize we all need to make sure our personal lives will also support the choice to return to college as well. This just happens to be my time, I suppose. One thing I DO know is certain, if you choose to stay where you are for the remainder of your careers, attending only an occasional workshop or class, you will start to hate your job. When all you do is audition, you forget how to actually perform. When you forget how to perform, your auditioning skills go down the toilete too. Pretty soon you just give it all up, resenting all of those years you spent as a performer.
I don't want to forget about how much FUN I have performing on the stage. As recently as June 3rd, I was in a live show with my fellow Mystery Cafe cast members. Because WE were having so much fun, our audience was too! The cast and our live audience were feeding off of each-other's energy and everybody had a fantastic time. It was one of those moments when you think to yourself, "I get PAID to have this much fun. How awesome is that?"
If you have ever performed live on a stage, or have been present when your film is first screened for a live audience, you should understand my story below. I hope it helps you understand why we do what we do as well as why I'm going back to school at age 45! Trying to practice keeping my mouth shut in our drama classes...Cheers!
I have a friend who works at an office. She once asked me:
"Renee, why on earth would you choose to work in a field that's so financially unpredictable?"
This was my response:
"How many times have you presented a report to your boss? How many times has your boss reacted to that new report by jumping up, clapping, whistling and getting the rest of your office to do the same? In fact, throughout your day at work, how many times do you tell a joke and have everyone laugh appropriately? Do you put on your coat to leave as your entire office is shouting and clapping for you, begging you to come back so they can simply continue to whistle and tell you how awesome you are?
You see, we are both paid to do our job, we both needed to interview and sometimes come back for a second interview to get our jobs too. Your job pays you with a check or direct deposit, my job does the same. We both work hard, both of us can be promoted. We can also get fired if we are not good at our jobs!
I chose my career because there is a bonus given out to me at the end of every single work day. I leave my job to the sound of applause and cheering. If I'm lucky, people who paid me to do my job even stand up and cheer. Sometimes they loved what I did so much, they chant to have me come back so that they can continue to whistle and applaud for a job well done!
THAT is why I do what I do. It's why I choose to work in a field where income fluctuates so much. Life is too short for us to waste most of our time working at some job for money and financial reasons alone. I'm doing what I LOVE for a living, and, like the saying goes, I will never have to work a day in my life."
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