I’m living the broke artist life in
New York. It has it’s ups and downs, is
definitely not as glamorous as it sounds, but I think all in all, it’s
extremely supportive in keeping my creative juices flowing. I remember a few
years ago sitting in my doctor’s office waiting room reading a magazine about
the most successful people in our country (I think in the entertainment
industry) and reading about Oprah. Say what you will about the woman, but she
is extremely successful and a brand all by herself. The article basically gave
examples of a few successful celebrities, notably Oprah, saying that in theory
these people achieved so much because they weren’t comfortable growing up, but
also weren’t so uncomfortable (financially and mentally speaking) that they got
so depressed or overwhelmed they gave up.
My advice to anyone pursuing a career in filmmaking, writing or acting is don’t let yourself get comfortable. Don’t fall into a routine. Don’t take your backup job because you feel the pressure of needing a “career.”
I’m lucky to say that I don’t have to bartend, waitress or cater, not that those are bad jobs—you do what you have to—but I have a lot of freedom. I don’t do any of the clichéd actor day/night jobs. I get to work from home and make my own schedule to some extent, yet, I am not comfortable. I can’t afford expensive things and I don’t want to be working this job for another decade. This level of discomfort puts a healthy amount of pressure on me and also motivates me to continue pursuing getting my film off the ground. What I mean by healthy pressure is, I’m not so exhausted after my “put food on the table” job that I can’t write, audition or go to meetings.
The last week of my senior year at NYU I was offered a salaried job with an advertising company in Midtown. It would be great pay, benefits and working with what seemed to be like an interesting group of people. I asked them if the schedule was flexible at all and if I could take some time off if I landed a film. When they said no, I immediately turned them down, thanking them for the offer, but also emphasizing that my film career is important to me and something I’m not willing to give up. I truly believe that if I took that job, I would’ve worked my way up within the company and been full time there.
I said no thanks and I’m learning to say no even more now. If you have a vision of how you want your life to turn out, follow that path and don’t take on something that seems like it would be detouring your journey. I’m steadfast in my career goals to the point where I’d rather make sacrifices in my life to achieve what I want. I shouldn’t even say sacrifices because that’s not how I view them. I enjoy working on my screenplays and acting work so much that I don’t think of it as having to give something up. I’m gaining a lot by having freedom to create and feel very lucky to be able to have this gift.
Share with me in the comments how you make sure to stay motivated and have the freedom to pursue your craft!