It seems the mantra in my career for the last couple of years has been: Balance. It’s all about finding balance, no matter what stage you are in your career. Balancing projects with work, balancing paid projects for fulfilling projects, balancing work and your relationship, personal goals with professional goals, balancing financial goals with spiritual needs….it seems to be never-ending.
Invariably a career in the creative arts (actors, directors, dancers, etc) requires a career outside the arts, unless you’ve been blessed with a secret stash of survival cash or have movie star parents. And if you have, more power to you!
For some it’s waiting tables, or temping, some have managed to work teaching and coaching into extra cash, others find background work to pay the bills. All of those can be fun, but all of those take time away from auditioning, rehearsing, networking and all the other steps necessary to grow in your career. And often growth comes with better paying roles that are less creatively and emotionally fulfilling.
For me, I began free-lancing as a means to earn cash. With more control over my schedule, I could turn down work when I know I’ll be in shows and rehearsals, and could pick up lots of work between shows to build up some extra dough. In NYC at least, there’s tons of work if you are halfway intelligent and willing to work. The flip side to this is when you agree to a job, it can be trickier to sneak away for a last minute audition, and often you can line up weeks of work before your next show is offered to you- potentially burning bridges by bailing on jobs you agreed to.
Most of the truly talented and creative people I know are hard workers, detail oriented who take pride in anything they put time into. Which is why their performances are rich, their dancing is precise, their direction specific and passionate, and also why they are fun waiters, sought after temp employees, and great technicians.
I fell into that group, and learned pretty quickly I needed to keep my worlds apart, hence the title of the blog. I was picking up lots of free-lance tech work: I was quickly one of the first people called when booking crews. I made the mistake of inviting my bosses to see me perform, and suddenly they stopped calling me. For flattering reasons. “You need to be acting. If you consistently put up that quality of performance, you are wasting you are wasting your talent working with us.” But acting wasn’t paying the bills. I found that when other technicians heard I was an actor they took me less seriously.
Alternatively I would work with theater and film companies, and they would rave about my performances. But once they found out I could hang lights, could build sets, etc, they started asking me to take on those positions and stopped casting me in their shows.
I chose to keep my world’s apart. And I chose to direct shows that spoke to me artistically. I chose to act in roles that were challenging and fulfilling, with companies that could see my artistic potential rather than simply my marketability. And it worked, I’ve pulled out numerous performances that impressed and inspired casts and audiences, but chose projects that didn’t move my career forward.
I picked up only what I needed for freelance, kept my acting and directing sides a secret, and chose jobs for the money and freedom of time. And it worked. And with little effort suddenly I am getting lots of responsibility and decent pay, and my freelance career has moved forward. But it’s made it even harder to take on challenging and fulfilling artistic endeavours.
Now that I’m past 40, my life, future and career needs are changing, and my artistic passions are only growing. I’m finding myself more driven, and finding that my separate worlds are beginning to collide. I’ve certainly spent more time than I should focusing on the could have beens. Now, I’m taking action to find the only thing I can truly manage with all my separate worlds.
It’s gonna be fun.