Labor Day

“It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.”. ~ U.S. Dept. of Labor
 
 
What a difference a month makes! In August – out of work for four months – I wrote about my frustrations with commercial self-tape auditions. The process had become so demanding and complex, that I questioned whether or not it was worth it. If booked, would I even arrive on a safe set? Factory workers, front line workers, and (soon) many teachers (will) know the critical importance of a COVID-safe working environment. We all want to work, but at what cost? Since then, I’ve had four live commercial auditions – three remote and one in-person. I’m happy to report that two weeks ago, I shot a national commercial. #adsgounion
 
As I’ve witnessed production slowly opening up (and sometimes closing), I’ve pointed out the simple economic fact that only those who can afford it, can produce. The amount of money and time (and time is money) it takes to ensure on-set safety for all cast & crew is notable. My in-person audition had only one actor at a time in the lobby (two at most), there was no sign-in sheet (less contact), hand sanitizer was everywhere, and just one session runner in attendance who was masked & shielded the entire time. Two days before my fitting, I was given a “quick turnaround” PCR COVID-19 test (the most reliable). Currently, there are three test types.
 
The on-set experience required patience. Every crew member wore provided masks and shields at all times unless they were eating. This commercial was shot on location, so breakfast was served in a parking lot, and lunch was served on a lawn area. In L.A. we have the option of outdoor dining 99% of the time – a Hollywood luxury for sure. Personnel Zones were assigned on the call sheet, so only the bare minimum of crew was allowed indoors. Actors had to wear masks & shields until camera rolled. The masks made it difficult to hear voices, so the director used a mic. Every hour or so, the on-set COVID Safety Person stopped work to spray all hi-traffic trailers with an aerosol disinfectant that looked like a mobile fumigation kit. He also made the rounds – like a high school hall monitor – making sure we wore our masks. Trailers kept their doors open (except when I changed my clothes in wardrobe). There were only three actors in the spot, so no more than two were on set. In the afternoon, a union rep happened to pay a visit. I felt very safe.
 
This was a perfect example of how, with detailed research and adherence to protocol, work can begin. If there is the smallest of human error, however, (i.e. one person attends a crowded function the night before) it can quickly go south. National headlines report famous people who’ve contracted the virus, but news about lesser known folks is hidden in the pages of local papers. This is why we must commit to solidarity with our fellow workers by demanding on-set safety, and be willing to walk when we feel unsafe. The possibility of being out of work for a year is a small price to pay when it comes to long term neurological effects or even death.
 
As you celebrate this Labor Day, commit to solidarity with your co-workers. Share information, speak up, and take personal responsibility for strengthening your immune system. Yes, the opportunity for work is what we all want, but in order to keep working we must remember we’re all in this together.

I Work So Hard . . . and yet, Something is Missing.

Throughout my business, I’ve had the privilege to speak with many artists about their career needs. The conversation almost always comes down to this: Something is missing.  When asked what it is they really want, an actor will usually say, “I want to be a working actor,” but when we go through the reality of what that looks like, they realize that getting a paycheck for “any gig” is not what they’re looking for either. Time and time and again we assume that all of our problems will be solved if we could only get work. And that’s usually not the case.

I forget who said this, but it’s wise and it’s true: “We are not hungry for what we’re not getting. We’re hungry for want we’re not giving.”

I named my company The Recognized Actor, because I believe that every person’s deepest desire is to be seen. Some of us confuse this with fame, but it’s really recognition. It’s recognition for what we contribute to our tribes.hamster wheel

If we look outside of ourselves for it, we are seduced into traps of following rules, people-pleasing, or working “hard”. I’ve learned, however, that outside recognition – because of its transitory nature – is never satisfying. The only satisfying recognition comes from within. Self-acceptance. When we accept who we are (an ever-evolving process) our real values rise to the surface, and we discover that most old beliefs actually belong to someone else. When we accept where we are, we let go of comparisons and the need to live someone else’s life. When we recognize our real values, we become mindful of our habits, and begin to make right choices. We are exemplary in the smallest of tasks. We experience joy in conscious living. And finally, we realize that all of our desires already exist inside of us, and that the only thing – the only thing – keeping us from them is resistance.

This is why I created Action Groups – a safe place for artists to meet, redefine their goals, and get support in taking that next step. Facilitating these groups has opened me up to greater compassion, acknowledgement and leadership in my everyday life. If you can’t join one of mine, I urge you to find a group that values you and helps you find that “missing piece” of being recognized for what you contribute to the world.