June 10

Bobby Brown, Me and Fenulla Jiwani on the set of her short film Blackbox Shadow
Photo: Bobby Brown, Me and Fenulla Jiwani on the set of her short film Blackbox Shadow

One of the best times I ever had as an artist and in my career was when I was making my own work.

I had just moved back to New York after doing a TV series in Toronto, and I had a feeling that if all I did was audition, I’d get frustrated if I didn’t book within a month. I realized that to avoid this neurotic trap, I had to get proactive about my career, and my life! My creativity had to be fed and nurtured, and I needed to feel like I was contributing something rather than standing there shaking a cup. (More on that cup in another post.)

So I joined a theatre company.

We wrote mostly short plays, directing and acting in each others’ work. We met once a week at The Ensemble Studio Theatre with Artistic Director Curt Dempster, and we created stuff. It was fun and crazy and inspiring. In the summer we all went to writing/directing/acting bootcamp in the Catskills and had long impromptu poetry writing sessions by the campfire. (There may have been some beer involved, for some people!) While sitting at my computer writing my short plays I did not worry about whether I had an audition or not. When I did have one, I saw it from a different perspective, as a fellow artist with something to give. (Full cup!)

I also saw casting from a different angle after casting my own plays. It became less personal. More business. and thus, less neurotic!

It empowered me.

It empowered me so much, I started booking those jobs I auditioned for and eventually had to bow out of the company as I was away on location so much!

So when Fenulla, a former student of mine, emailed me to ask if I would act in a short film she had written and was producing and acting in, I was thrilled to say yes. Not only because I was so happy for her, and proud of her, but because the story she wrote was so wonderful and I loved my part. She wasn’t just sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, she created her own work and added her own beautiful voice to the business. I was inspired by the story she had written and the fact that she was taking charge of her own career. She also cast Bobby, from our class!

Maybe not every actor feels that way, neurotic when they are not working….but I sure can! and in these blogs, I will try to share what helps me deal with that, as well as the joy of getting and doing the work.

So today I will share this Thing I Have Learned: If you feel restless irritable and discontent about your career, or lack thereof, start creating something. Not for money, just for the love of it. For fun and inspiration, for the excitement of possibility. Dance, sing, write, draw, read, do what you love, feed that artist in you…..maybe….pick up a pen.