Pilot Season – the perfect storm that brings out the crazy in all of us. Where (even more than the other 8 months a year) each day has the potential to take you from rags to riches. Where the world is suddenly rushing past at light speed…and where you most acutely feel you are riding the comet to success, or standing perfectly still as it passes you by. It is exciting. It is panic inducing. I’ve had pilot seasons where I was so busy, it was a blur….my record is 9 auditions scheduled in one day. I’ve tested for pilots. I’ve booked pilots. I’ve also had years where I’ve gone the entire season without reading for a single project. I’ve had everything in between.
I’m starting this season with big dreams, and some bigger obstacles. The details aren’t important, but the pieces of my chess board were unexpectedly upended recently…so I’m starting the year without all of my ducks in a row. Maybe this won’t matter either way….but the odds – while always awful, today feel crushing because so much is out of my hands. I’m tempted to curl up in a blanket and hibernate. Sleep through pilot season and wake up once the opportunities I’m missing aren’t right before my eyes. I have to remember- all it takes is 1 appointment…it just has to be the right one. I also have to remember pilot season is not the only route to success… opportunities come in all shapes and sizes – and usually are not what you’ve been expecting.
So I sit here, amused that I have absolutely no idea what is around the corner. I only know:
a) It will surprise me.
b) I will give my everything to whatever comes my way.
c) My effort is all I have control over.
I feel READY. I’m ripe for the picking, bursting with flavor, a juicy f*cking peach…but you never know the appetites of the industry. Maybe this year they are on a cleanse and only gluten free-vegan-organic-raw-sugar free-Kombucha infused foams are on the menu.
I can’t complain….I signed up for this roller coaster ride. I shall remain optimistic and driven, even on days when everything is sprinkled with a dash of overwhelming and impossible. And though some days, if my career was a person I would want to punch it in the balls for giving me the run around – I will remember to be grateful for each opportunity coming my way – despite the size, the budget or the distance from what I most want. I have no idea what seemingly small step is leading to the next big milestone. I must focus on doing great work and trusting it is where I’m supposed to be.
I had a very auspicious beginning. The first day of my first acting class, led immediately to my first audition, which led immediately to two major job offers. Although due to circumstance I was not able to accept the jobs, that validation convinced me this career path wasn’t entirely crazy. It gave me the confidence to be brave enough to give this career a go. Months later, I moved to Los Angles feeling like I would be employed within days and on warp speed to ‘making it’. It never occurred to me to consider the odds.
Which is actually a good thing. The odds are impossible and if you allow yourself to truly admit to the numbers, you would be paralyzed in fear – or headed home to start plan B. I love/miss the insulation youth gives you. You are brave without realizing it. Audacious swagger seeps from your pores, blind faith is the pheromone you give off. You arrive a bright shiny penny that has no idea what awaits it.
I’ve had a couple of difficult years and I feel a bit like I’m waking from a slumber, from anesthesia of heartbreak and loss and disappointment. Now I’m on the edge of the cliff ready to dive in. Every career ebbs and flows, but when the years start to pile on, it’s a whole new reason your confidence can begin to shake like a leaf. My career is a shameless flirt. Teasing me like a stripper. Batting her eyes at me, dropping one item of clothing at a time, giving me a glimpse of the goods to keep me interested, but staying just out of reach. Leaving me frustrated. Alas, I am sick of this casual ‘flirtationship’. I’m looking for commitment. Give me the (brass) ring.
When I first moved to LA I assumed I was on the same playing field as everyone else – it was calming to be so naïve. I quickly realized that much of my competition had been working professionally since they were children, even infants – and had resumes, connections and on-set experience that was 20 years deeper than mine. Whoa, wake up call. I want to take comfort in the fact that I’m the one who now has a hefty(ish) resume – but the quirk of working in this business, is that A+B doesn’t necessarily = C. It might as well equal monkeys or mason jars. This business is like a platypus – it’s super cool, but you don’t really understand it (is it a bird or a mammal? Part duck, part beaver?) and you have a hard time describing it to others.
This is a career where you are constantly starting from scratch after each gig. Your job is fulfilling the needs of the character and it’s basically a level playing field in terms of what you bring into the room. The finances of the project may dictate that your resume gives you more sway, as might your prior connections, but not always. In fact, it is horrifying to realize that sometimes the only sin you commit is being familiar…just the fact that you already have an established relationship with them, can sometimes work against you. Can stop someone from seeing you in a new way. You have to push for the chance to change their minds, to SHOW THEM that you are more than what they expect. More than they imagined.
In this business I fluctuate daily between being amazed, downright flabbergasted that my life is so fantastic, and being paralyzed by how agonizingly far my life is from what I hope it can one day be. So much is beyond our control….but hard work and bravery are rewarded. Tides turn every day. Fortunes change. Circumstance shift. Almost anything can happen at almost any time. Even (some version of) this:
(*Shout out to PulseStudios for making/sending me this hilarious photo… and no, I’m not stalking BP, nor is this supposed to represent ‘ideal’ – just thought this image was too funny to keep to myself).
So shake off the disappointments. Let go of the ‘what should have been’ or ‘almost was’. There is no room in your heart to hold on to complaints, heartache, or the bitter pill of ‘not yet’. Stop telling yourself the same old story of how it didn’t work and how high or frightening the stakes are. Remember, you are a juicy peach, it is a new year, a new pilot season, a new beginning and anything is possible. The past? Well, that was just foreplay. The best part starts now.
I can’t wait.