When I look at Facebook photos of myself smiling all toothily, I sometimes say to myself, “that gap is too wide.” It’s a flaw I blame on genetics. Sometimes, however, I think, “ah, it’s no big deal, it’s just a gap,” and I accept the uniqueness of my grin. In regards to my career as an actor, though, I’ve never actually thought about gaps. (Well, maybe financially, but that’s to be expected, right?) Nothing has truly ever seemed out of my reach. Instead, things have just been either “right for me” or “not right for me.” There is no in-between, unless it’s being in-between jobs. That’s the only “in-between” I know.
For the past 3 months, I’ve gone from being a working man, to being out of work, to having 3 projects. This, as I have said many times before, is the life for which I signed up. I’m no longer surprised by an empty bank account. It seems to be quite standard, actually. But, I made a vow ages ago to never be in this business for financial gain. Yes, it’s a plus to make money doing the thing you love, but my mission in art was always to redefine the image of what it means to be a black man in this world. At the end of the day, I need to make sure that people who look like me, or people who are fascinated with me, know that I’m not one “type” of man. There are no labels that fit me, except the one I so lovingly embrace on Facebook: Tommy C. I’ve spent years establishing myself as a human being first and foremost and art is just my way of giving back to the world which so inspires everything I do. Let’s recap the things I’ve done since January.
- Made a resolution to make every day an adventure. I have been adhering to this train of thought all year.
- Told myself to be smart and not compromise. This seems to be working well for me.
- Been broke. A lack of funds in January spilled over into February and I was forced to use my security deposit as a rent payment.
- Been de-friended by people on Facebook. I guess people have felt that I am not an assest to them, or they got tired of my rantings and statuses…who knows. More importantly, who cares. If you remove yourself from my life, I need to trust that decision and not try to keep you in mine.
- Smiled despite the low points. I found that even when things are shit, good friends, music, the occasional drink, and watching TV online sure do make up for dry, dull days.
- Starting submitting myself for castings. I understand that my agent can only do so much, and because she helps me so much, I wanted to help her as well!
- Auditioned left and right. I had an audition for a 1930s musical revue, an all black-version of Macbeth (which I’m in), an innovative production of Little Shop of Horrors, and a play called Six Rounds.
- Worked on new pieces. A friend of mine called me up to see if I was available to be an actor in a short play she was writing. Because she’s my homegirl, I said yes. The process is the most thrilling thing I’ve worked on since Topdog/Underdog this past October.
- Started dating. Self explanatory (still in tune with having an adventure everyday)
- Dealt with a very traumatic family experience which helped me learn loads about myself. (I will speak about this at a later date.)
- Worked on motivating myself and others. In this business, actors tend to be so fucking insecure that they forget to uplift themselves and others. I’ve made it my business to be encouraging because to be honest, I didn’t get here because of negativity, but because every person I’ve ever encountered has believed in me. I want to give a bit of that back!
- Taught. By far the most important thing I’ve done in London is teach. I taught August Wilson (as well as dialect and acting) with some students aged 18-22 and it was the best experience. These students are more professional than “professionals” I have encountered and they want to be in this business. And they are hard-working, diligent. And they remind me of the spark of hope I had when I was their age. That spark in me has never died!
- I lost a friend to Singapore. My roommate and one of my best mates over here had to go go back home to find his dreams. I totally support him in all his endeavors.
- I remembered my grandmother. March 2nd will always be the day that I remember getting the call, having the breakdown, and finding the strength to keep going. It is now an anniversary that I dread, but love at the same time because I get to remember my grandmother’s greatness.
- Started rehearsals for Macbeth.
- Got called back and casted in Six Rounds (a show that excites me)!
- Saw my students perform August Wilson! They really did him justice. And unfortunately, that was my last day of teaching them, but they surprised me with a gift card to Selfridges!!! Now I can eat in the food court!
- Welcomed a new roommate into my life. She’s a great addition to my life!
- Been a bad friend. I have been neglecting a good friend, and though my reasons aren’t all too clear as to why I’ve separated myself from him, I hope that we gravitate towards each other eventually because he’s a good guy. I just think energies have pulled me in a different direction. But like all good friends, you come back around….right?
- Modeled clothes. That was a thrilling experience! I felt like I was able to do something I always dreamed about, but felt too average to actually do. The modeling was part of the promo for Six Rounds. Luke clothing is sponsoring the show. www.luke1977.com For those of you who know me well, I have never considered myself model material. I am average in looks. My body is thin. I have no tone or muscle. I’m not anyone’s fantasy. The only time I actually feel great is when I wear decent clothing. So when I was at the shoot…I was wearing decent clothes (which I get to keep) all day long…therefore, I felt attractive all day long!
So there you have it…the reason why I haven’t been able to write a blog since February. I have been getting a bit of grief about my lack of consistent entries as of late, and I feel this need to say this: yes, I love writing, when I get the time to do it, but from this moment on, I can no longer classify myself as a writer. Writers wake up and think about writing, they actually write, and they can do so all day. It’s what they breathe. I breathe art, in general. Some days, I wake up with lines in my head. Some days I wake up with music playing. Sometimes, I wake up thinking of a brilliant line for a play or a great topic for this blog. I am not ONE thing! Actor, Singer, Dancer, Writer, Student, Teacher, Son, Brother, Friend, and overall MAN. These are ways I describe myself.
In about a week, I will be turning 26. I will not enter into that year with fanfare, but instead thoughts about how I can wear these hats more effectively. How can I be a better actor, friend, family member, etc.? I will not be celebrating on my day as I will be in rehearsals. Instead, I hope that getting older makes me a bit more wiser than yesterday. More importantly, I hope to continue to have a busy career that makes me happy. I also hope that the decisions I make in the future are ones that I will never regret. This year is all about adventure and I’m going to keep exploring the world and aspects of myself that I’ve yet to discover.