Josh and the City: On Day Jobs and Destiny

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You know those days when everything goes wrong and you come home to realize that the last thing you want to do is cook dinner for yourself, so you slip on your pj’s, flip on the telly and decide that the best option is to eat an entire pint of ice cream instead?

Yup, me too.

What a lot of folks don’t realize—the actors I know often refer to them as “normal” people—is that being an artist is endlessly difficult. It’s challenging, it’s draining, and sometimes it’s rough to face the months one can go without feeling even an ounce of personal success. This is why “normal” people often say things like, “I know you’re an actor, but how do you make money? What is your day job?”

I love this question almost as much as I love Pierce Brosnan’s performance in Mamma Mia.

Day jobs can sometimes seem as impossible to find as the perfect monologue for an upcoming audition. I have spent the last three months applying for every job possible; I’ve scoured Craigslist, scanned the newspapers, even settled for things I knew I wouldn’t enjoy just to get something. I’ve been told that working in my own field, even if I’m not performing, is an avenue worth investigating. Turns out the thousands of other actors in New York had the same thought! And even though I want to scream at the employers, “But you’ve never had an employee like me!,” I know that the attempt is probably futile.

It hasn’t been an easy road. Then again, no one said anything about it being easy. The plain and simple truth is that both our performing lives and our futures in any kind of career lie in someone else’s hands. We can spend hours at the barre, become expert stenographers, even have a genuine knack for interacting with people and still not be what the company needs or the casting director wants. So what are we to do?

I asked myself that very question just last week. I was having a particularly negative day thinking about all of the jobs I’ve applied to and the few phone calls and e-mails I’ve gotten in return. Though I mostly attribute it to the economic recession (and the millions of other people living in New York), the thought of someone else controlling my future really started to bug me. I understand that that’s tradition, but why? Why let someone else tell you you’re good enough to be chorus member number 18? Why answer to those who feel that your attempt to live an artistic lifestyle is futile? And why settle for customs of the past that have only led us to the unsatisfied place we find ourselves now?

It was then that I had a small epiphany. I got on the phone and called one of the places I had applied to a few weeks before. Channeling a mixture of Donald Trump and Erin Brockovich, I asked the girl that answered the phone if I could speak to a manager. After a few minutes of delightful chitchat, I told the manager why I wanted the job I applied for. I went into detail about how it had always been a dream of mine—however small—and that I knew I would thrive in this particular work environment. She must have liked something I said, because she set up an interview with me for the following week and said she looked forward to meeting me. In five minutes I had gone from down-in-the-dumps to back in business, baby! Huzzah!

But I didn’t stop there. I applied this idea of “ignoring the rule and forging my own path” to another personal project I have spent more than half of my life working on: a science fiction novel for young adults. I’ve been writing it for over 13 years and have practically grown up with the characters. After giving it careful thought and consideration, I decided that it was time to get the book published, even without the help of the dozens of literary agents I’ve already sent it to. And I decided to publish the book myself. Keep in mind that self-publishing has been the furthest thing from my mind for years—I actually considered it a sign of defeat at one point in my life. But not anymore! The day after makin this decision, I went to the bookstore, picked up a few how-to guides on self-publishing, and got to work. I am currently doing final proofreads of the book and will be releasing it in e-book format in the weeks to come.

Even though I’m still figuring out how I can apply this idea to acting, I can’t explain to you how invigorating it feels to take charge of my own destiny. I mean, let’s face it—I could never let both my acting career and my writing aspirations rest in the hands of complete strangers. It is too important for me to release the art I have completed in order to continue making new art. If I don’t, I’ll keep editing and proofreading the book over and over again and it’ll never be released. Similarly, if I don’t push myself to attend auditions that I may not be “right” for or succeed at, I’ll stop having unique experiences that end up being more memorable than the auditions I know I’ll breeze through, even if I don’t get the job. Sending positive energy out to the universe plays a huge role in this.

I won’t say that what has happened in my life lately is a result of my sudden decision to take the wheel of my own life, but I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection; I got the job that I applied for, received an e-mail about a future callback for a show I’m mighty interested in, and have receiving nothing but encouragement from my friends after telling them about my self-publishing pursuits. And now, everywhere I go, I see small signs that the direction I’m heading in is the right one. Sometimes I have to remind myself to pay attention to the breadcrumbs being dropped right in front of me by that playful muse who loves to keep me guessing (and yes, we all have one). More importantly, if you consider yourself an artist, I believe that now is the absolute best time to throw your art into the world and see where it takes you. Look at television! The rulebook has been thrown out the window and the stars of Broadway have flocked to it like it’s the next frontier! Granted, people had to say “yes” for them to get there, but for those who had never acted on-camera before, this was a bold step in the direction of “What if?”

Anything can happen, friends, especially if you let it. So go out there and make some magic! There’s never been a better time and there will never be another you, so take a risk and see what happens! It is your destiny, after all.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-JoanMarcus-500

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4 Responses

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  2. Keep on keeping on sib! You’re an inspiration to those of us who in 3 years will be where you are. I’m rooting for you:)

    • Thank you Bucky! Enjoy the ride and get ready for the amazing things that are in store for you after graduation! :)

  3. Josh that is AWESOME! Way to take control of your own life! And you’re going to be PUBLISHED!! I completely agree, when you show the universe that you’re willing to take charge of your destiny, it gives right back. This is encouraging and I really needed to read it right now. BRB taking control of my creative life!