Most days I wake up and am intrigued by the sheer fact that I am breathing life into a new day. Those days are the days I actually assert myself. I make plans, set goals, and (sometimes) end up at the gym. But then there are days like today, in which I wake up and feel cold because I left my window open in my Edinburgh flat, get up to close it, and have to fight back the urge to crawl back into bed and go to sleep. But then I remember what I am waking up to: a job doing something I love, and a city whose sophisticated architecture speaks to me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. For right now, I DO have everything I need. Most importantly, things are calm. I am not hustling and bustling through a city, trying to find a place on a London tube, or rushing in vain to get to a job on time. Instead, I walk to work in half an hour, chatting to one of my two roommates (who are also my castmates) on the way. Life is good so far…
So why am I so fearful about what’s going to happen when this is all over?
Unlike many people I know who live their lives working “normal” non-creative jobs, people in my profession are faced with some harrowing questions about future endeavors. For example, I quit my job to become a professional actor…when this job is over, will I get hired again? Will I find a flexible job (one that allows for me to take off when I have auditions)? If I want to change my living situation, will the money I have been making during the show suffice to help me move house? And now that I am self employed, how in the hell am I going to pay my taxes AND my student loans?
There are many significant questions sitting at the front of my mind, but the only thing I can think of is the following: I didn’t get to where I am because I worried. I got to where I am because I was prepared in some shape, way, or form. I made things happen and wasn’t afraid to step out on faith (as the old folks used to say). Moving to Scotland happened because I went into an audition, showed them the best me I could be, and then got called back. The shows I’ve been lucky to be a part of have all (hopefully) seen the best me I can be…so that’s my key. I have to give 100 per cent of what I can give on any given day. Only then will the worry leave me, and will I be able to hopefully answer all the questions I have about what’s to come. There was a point prior to now when those questions were coming left and right, but I just tackled everything I could on a day to day basis. Funny enough it worked for me.
I was about a week into my Topdog/Underdog rehearsals when I got the news that I would be a featured dancer in a music video. I didn’t care if the artist was famous or not. All I knew is I was getting paid to dance and have fun and that the directors liked my style. Cool! Moving on! I did the shoot, it was fun…until the moment I had dry paint thrown at me. Actually, the entire cast ended up covered in dry paint (which was basically a concept that started as an idea, then turned into a focal point). Not only did I leave the shoot that day with a new song stuck in my head, but I left with blue paint stuck in my ears. (My left ear has been leaking royal blue wax for two months now. No lie!)
On the first Friday of the month, I woke up at 7:30am, prepared to do a cover shift for a friend at LUSH. She’d told me ages ago that she needed coverage and I had her back because she’s a lovely girl. Seconds before I was to leave the house, I received a call saying “I hope you aren’t on your way to work because I actually need to cover my shift. I make a mess of my schedule and I actually need to work today.” Well that was definitely fine with me. I could get some much needed sleep (at the time, studying my lines for the show was kicking my behind). I hurriedly got undressed and threw the covers over my head.
The phone rang in the early afternoon. It was my agent, informing me that I’d gotten a role offer in Romeo and Juliet, a show I was very much interested in doing. Though it was profit share (which in this business means “very limited pay…so limited you might not see it), I still wanted to work with the company and be a part of a creative family. It had been so long since I’d worked with an ensemble of people on a show and I was sure it was going to be great. I accepted the offer! And went back to sleep with expectations of hearing back from my agent in the afternoon with more news.
Not too long after, my sleep was interrupted a second time, but it wasn’t my agent. Instead it was one of the producers of Iron-Oxide, a company in Edinburgh Scotland. I recalled auditioning for them 2 months prior and almost forgot about them. Of course they’d called to offer me a place in their show (which was paying much more than profit-share, I tell you). I had to accept! But then I realized…I needed to call my agent quick to let her know the news.
After having to say no to Romeo and Juliet, I was able to feel more comfortable about the next decision I was going to have to make: quitting my job at LUSH.
Because my news was so sudden, and I didn’t actually have to work that day, I took the tube all the way to my job to tell everyone the good news in person. I needed to basically give my notice as soon as possible so that I could make things work when it came time to move to Scotland (for the second time in my life).
Putting in my notice wasn’t the difficult thing….it was trying to juggle a schedule that now included rehearsal for Top/Dog Underdog, traveling to and fro to a suburb called Strawberry Hill, working on weekends, as well as surprise auditions for other projects. Also, when putting in my notice, I had to find coverage for all the days I would be absent from work. Thankfully, I did enough favors during the year to have people take over my shifts. Or so I thought.
The first 3 weeks of June were fairly routine in practice; rehearsals then home. But then there was the part of featured extra in a film, which came almost out of nowhere. I jumped at the chance to work with one of my favorite new writers and directors from the London area. Funny enough, the day I was shooting, I discovered I would be auditioning as a print model for a brochure. I did the shoot that weekend, on top of rehearsals for the show that would hopefully bring some credibility to my acting resume.
Finally, it was time for Topdog/Underdog to take place…I will not discuss the process except to say it started well, ended in chaos, which gave me fuel to give the performance of my life on opening night. But on closing night, because I had to carry broken luggage through London, alone, with virtually no help (except after my show was over), my closing night’s show energy was crap. I was weary and thinking about my next adventure in Scotland. I finished my show around 9:30pm…and hauled ass to the train station to catch my sleeper leaving for Edinburgh at 11:25pm. When I got to the train, I was directed to a car that oddly had no seats…BUT…it had a bed. It would be the first time I ever slept comfortably on a train in my life!
After arriving in Edinburgh at around 7:15 in the morning, I got a taxi to my new digs, showered, then went straight to rehearsal for CARGO, a project that promised to be life changing in some sort of way…
Rehearsals have begun, and my professionalism and will have been tested. But my desire to be a hero in my heart is ruling out. Stay tuned.