Monday, June 8, 2015

Bo(u)lder.

Honestly, I've been trying to write this post for the last 4 months but I haven't been able to find the words. Despite a lot of things changing around me, I've yet to actually shift. My last few posts have been comprised of all the things I needed to do, was going to do, but had yet to actually incorporate into my daily life. I've been talking a really good talk. Sure, there was the occasional day where I did what all those self-help books have been telling me for almost a year, but overall I was failing at actually living the life I could be. Instead, to make myself feel better, I'd give wonderful and positive advice to others by regurgitating quotations and making myself sound impressive or "enlightened" but realistically I was failing to live by example, which is a major problem. 

The reason that I've refused to change, to take my own advice and really live for me, is out of fear. Fear that I could actually make positive changes, fear that I could actually help and inspire people and what that responsibility entails. Fear of failing myself -- again. It's easier for me to just stand on the sidelines and judge than jump in and get my hands dirty. It's terrible, but it's the rut I have been in for sometime now. 

There is an incredible amount of pressure placed on young people, perhaps some of it self made, to succeed right out of the gate; "I have my education, now where's all the work?" For some it happens right away, they don't have to worry about much because their families have their backs financially or they end up landing their dream job immediately, setting them up financially for the long haul.  For the rest of us it's a constant uphill battle, pushing a boulder, with a tiny elf, named Student Loans, sitting on our back calling us weaklings everyday and reminding us to keep pushing or we will roll back down the hill and have to start all over again. I've had a few glorious breaks heading up the mountain this year, but that's all they were -- breaks -- a stop for air, a swig of water, a stretch, before I felt the crack of the elf's whip and needed to get back to pushing. I've put an incredible amount of pressure on myself by feeling that if I didn't make it to the top of the mountain this year I would be considered a failure. There's that word again, failure. The reality is, it takes years and years and years to get to the top, and for some, they never make it. 

So then why do they do it? Is someone at the top of the mountain with a trip to Cuba or some other equally awesome incentive? What's the point of all this pushing if there isn't anything there? 

Last year I got a significant break from pushing my boulder, 4 months to be exact, that break was Olympus. For those of you who may not know, I'm currently starring as a lead character on an international television show playing in Ireland, London, Germany, the United States and Canada. But despite the reach of the show and my role within it (one that I'm very proud of), my life has remained unchanged. When I booked the role, only one person, a mentor of mine, was honest with me. She said, "This project is simply a wave and it does not guarantee anything." Although I heard what she'd said, and tried to view it as simply that, I too often entertained the idea of this project being a game changer for me, and it quickly went to my head. 


After Olympus premiered I vainly and naively expected a massive amount of attention.  I had built up the show up in my mind (and on my social media feeds) to God like proportions, pun intended. I have a great character, with an incredible arc and some pretty decent scenes, which all ended up falling on mostly deaf ears, due to some unsightly promotional issues and lack of budget. My ego was shattered. Without the world’s validation that my performance was award winning, or at the very least -- good, I became depressed. I lost sight of myself because I had spent, seriously, every spare moment of my time preparing and editing my "image" for the spotlight.  I majorly anticipated and was disappointed. I, for those 6 months leading up to the premiere, needed the world’s approval and, big surprise; it has yet to come and might never. 

Each time I auditioned after the premiere of Olympus the casting director, or artistic directors, would ask me what I was working on to which I would reply, "I'm currently a series lead on a new SyFy show called Olympus." And they would look at me like I spoke another language, "Oh cool, never heard of it." It was during these interactions I realized that my biggest job to date was essentially moot. They didn't care. They hadn't seen it or had any intention of watching it. The saying, "you are only as good as your last job" didn't work in literally any situation for me. Instead, "you're only as good as the work you're currently doing" was more truthful.

Being a series lead on one of the many TV shows this year does not guarantee a career for me, it does not guarantee a career for anyone, it was simply an incredible experience for a young actor to be on set for 4 months, right out of theatre school, working with talented people and being surrounded by the British Columbian landscape --which is gorgeous. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. Until I saw the episodes in their entirety all I had was the memories of conversations, dances, jokes, laughter, loves, lessons, challenges and food. Oh God, the food. These are what made my time incredible and life changing, not the product and what people think of it, because watching the show you don't see any of the memories that were created. It made me realize that no matter how hard one might work, no matter how incredible the artists and visionaries around you are, sometimes things just don't commercially work out. No matter how much heart goes into it. And that's perfectly okay. 

Which brings me back to the boulder metaphor. If there can be so much love, care and artistry piled into a project that when it finally comes to fruition and seemingly no one cares, why do we do it? 

For the experiences. For the memories. For the people. For the conversations it might evoke. 


There is no getting ahead, no corporate ladder to climb, no benchmarks that guarantee a career in this life -- the life of an artist -- so the only real thing to pursue is the aforementioned. Those are what create a full life. Those are what make a better more inspiring and relatable artist. Having an impressive resume doesn't get you into heaven; it doesn't make you a better parent, or cook, or lover or friend. It's a just a piece of paper with words on it telling people about your past. 

It's like an obituary. 

Right now I have the power to define myself, to validate myself, to take pleasure in being with my boulder. To stop pushing and simply roll. I've never dreamed of fame, despite being disillusioned by it, I've only dreamt of notoriety; having a solid reputation to build upon, consistent work. That's my personal definition of success. The only way that I can achieve my dream is to stop walking around with my hand out and start creating with what I have. 

These last 4 months have been made up of late night feedings brought on by unhappiness, Austin Powers marathons and getting unnecessarily wrapped up in the politics of my Joe job, brushing my cats and dreaming of living in a perpetual shower, mediating once and then being afraid because of what it brought to the surface, reading incredible books yet refusing to apply what I learned, spending countless hours on on-line dating apps trying to find someone who will listen to my problems and validate my feelings of remorse for depriving myself of the things I enjoy, buying clothes to make myself seem like I have it together on the outside, eating out and blowing through my money because I want to seem successful rather than being economic and healthy, putting off things that need my attention to spend a ridiculous amount of time refreshing my news feeds to see who comments on my witty posts rather than learning what's going on in the world. I'm writing this no further ahead at accomplishing my dream than I was 4 months ago. I went down the wrong rabbit hole. 

Standing on the other side I realize that this was necessary. These 4 months have showed me that this is not who I am, this is who I was and could be if I didn't take charge of my life.

My next step is to actually work hard in silence and let my success be my noise. Implement all that I've spoken about doing for the last year. Listen to learn and respond to understand instead of listening to be rewarded with the opportunity to speak. 

Today I go pro. 

Today I will be bolder. 


W.

P.S. Big shout out to all my new fans who have made me feel extra special during this transition. Much love. 

7 comments:

Johan said...

It pains me that you are unhappy.
I wish there was somethin I could do to help.

aris said...

Hey Wayne,

This was a very courageous thing to write and it's really inspiring, because you talk about a lot of stuff that's been clouding my mind lately.

Thanks :)
Aris

Ale said...

Okay, Wayne. Instead of another facetious "Will you marry me?" (which would also be completely appropriate considering how much you keep impressing me), I'll just thank you for the honesty. More often than not, working actors' updates seem to be geared towards achievement and success, making them one-note, stale. The truth is that the experience of an "aspiring" actor, as many call us (even though we're actually just actors), is one a little more multi-dimensional and richer than that. The difficulties you described were not just hit-me-where-it-hurts true, but also essential in making this a journey of gradual and consistent growth and self-development.

One last thing: I take it you got the "go pro" from Steven Pressfield's The War of Art? If you did, more power to you. Go beat Resistance. If you have no idea what I'm talking about it, put off applying what you've learned just ONE more time to go read that self-help book.

So much actor-to-actor love,

Alejandra Rivera FlaviĆ”
www.alejandrariveraflavia.com

Nikki/Songbird said...

I stumbled on this by pure accident, and I hope you won't mind me commenting. I was sorting out my Google+ page and it recommended you as a contact, so I clicked through and, of course, the word 'blog' caught my attention and I had to read.

This is both heartbreaking and inspiring. Heartbreaking to know that, despite having put forward such an amazing performance, you didn't seem to reap much benefit from it, either professionally or personally. To know that the Sisyphean effort so much outweighs the reward. And inspiring to see that you're being so strong and seeing the changes you can make and want to make, without letting them be another boulder for you, and to see that I (and so many others) are not alone in feeling that same uphill battle, no matter how hard we try.

This was a wonderful post, Wayne, and I have to say, if you ever find yourself not feeling fully satisfied with acting, perhaps writing publicly may be a good outlet (like this)?

If there's anything I can do to help in any way, be it as a friend, complete stranger, or professionally (with blog posts, spreading awareness, anything like that), please don't hesitate to let me know :)

Be strong, be well, and be happy ^_^

strange3945 said...

Wayne, your post was very moving. Keep doing good work and the rest will follow. I am currently watching Olympus now. I bought it on Amazon Prime. You should be proud of the work you did on the show. I am enjoying it very much. Sometimes it takes time for a film to find a big audience with so many new shows out there, so don't be discouraged if it seems that not as many people as you would like has seen Olympus. Your performance inspired to look up other work you've done and I have just finished watching the short film, Bone Deep. Again, your performance was spot on. I will keep an eye out for your future projects. Good luck.

Thom Burkett said...

Hi Wayne:

I just discovered the show (I'm late to the game I suppose) and it has been incredible. I hate falling in love with a show that I know ends before it's due. That said, you are a power house on screen. Your incredible humility expressed above in your post, your passion and your ambition are marvelous. No matter the "ratings" or such with the show, thank you for contributing your art. Your incredible skill and presence on screen is amazing.

Good luck in all you future endeavors.

Cheers,

Thom
www.thefaithofmars.com

Jack Montgomery said...

Thanks for the thoughtful words. Its always the journey that makes things worth it. The only way to truly appreciate life is to admire the subtleties. Excited to see the show and glad you got the opportunity. Keep up the work.

-Jack Montgomery