WRITTEN BY AARON GUEST, ACTOR/WRITER/PRODUCER
When I first started in this industry, my agent at the time, an amazing woman who helped me become the confident, business-savvy actor I am today, told me she believed I was only one booking away from a successful career. What she didn’t tell me, though, was how long that one booking might take.
With my expectations high, and my dreams set on hyperdrive, I auditioned for five years and never booked a thing. I continued to push hard, train, sharpen my materials, and audition every chance I got, but nothing seemed to happen. It seemed hopeless. Thankfully, this agent stayed alongside me and continued to believe in me until I made the transition to Los Angeles, joining alongside the team I have now. This would teach me a skillset I would need to survive, even as I started to make strides in my career. It is the ability to navigate expectations, while waiting for things to happen.
As artists, whether you’re an actor, writer, singer, etc., we live an unpredictable life.
This is part of the thrill that keeps us going, but it’s also a big reason we may feel like we’re unable to handle our highs and lows. “Putting in our dues” both time-wise and monetarily can push us to believe we deserve to be in the union, or book that guest star, or finally be that series regular. To some degree, it’s probably true. Does that change things? It sadly does not. It doesn’t help us to linger on what “should be”. We can only focus on what “can be”. This is how I have been able to survive and continue to fight and persevere, no matter what my exhausted, starry-eyed inner self wants to scream.
Focusing on what “can happen” really brings me back to why I got excited about this job in the first place.
It’s all about the possibility in every day. Each day may not be what I expect, but the path it leads me down could be even better than what I expected. How exciting is that?!
And when I combine this with my faith, where I personally believe that God has a specific purpose for my life and art, it eliminates all fear that I’ll never obtain my dream. I continue to fight and be grateful for what each day brings, without feeling drained by what I think should be happening. And it also makes me a better actor! I relax in my work without getting desperate.
Yes, hitting short and long-term goals is still crucial in this industry. You have to keep up business and craft, making these goals and managing what you can (repeat: managing what you can). With that being said, you can only take this career one day at a time. When you start to feel like you’re not getting enough auditions, enough bookings, or the right bookings or jobs (it doesn’t matter where you are in your career), examine what you can do, fix it, and then take each day as a new opportunity to move forward. Whatever the path looks like.
And darn it, be happy for your friends! Their success is your success. It’s often a good sign if you’re surrounded by working people. It’ll also make you a more grateful artist–an artist people will want to work with. I understand this envy like any other, but it doesn’t benefit us.
Finally, find time to journal.
I’m serious. Even if it’s once every season, recap what happened. After that five year period where nothing seemed to happen for me, I recapped and saw that every year was building upon the last, toward the success I have now. It was even at a faster pace than I ever recognized before. Now I’m grateful for that time, rather than regretful.
Just goes to show, why stress? Hindsight really is 20/20.