This Friday is the SAG/AFTRA union bargaining deadline, and with 97.91% of its membership voting to strike, it's a real possibility that actors will officially join writers on the picket lines.
By Bret Shuford, originally published on Backstage.com
I’m filled with gratitude and joy for where my journey has brought me as an actor and life coach. Now that I’m what they call a “seasoned actor,” I was thinking about where I was in my younger years. These are some of the things I would tell my younger self.
Get your finances in order. Cut up your credit cards right now! You don’t need them and your credit score doesn’t matter as much as you think. Now, immediately enroll in some sort of financial program to get clarity on your finances. There are some amazing programs including (Katy's Financial Freedom for Creatives Club), Debtors Anonymous, the Actors Fund, or even Suze Orman’s “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, & Broke.” If you can get clarity on your finances now, you’re going to discover that you are worth a lot more than you think.
There’s no rush. You can do it all, but you just can’t do it all right now! Get really clear in this moment about what it is you truly want. Sure, I know all you want is to get on Broadway, but in what capacity? Get specific and then start enjoying the journey. Focus on one goal at a time. With focus and structure comes freedom, and people will be drawn to your carefree, process-oriented energy. Also, you’re going to find a spouse, so stop searching so hard.
Keep studying. I know, you just finished four years of school and you think that’s all you need. I’m here to tell you that you need more training. You can’t tell an athlete to stop training, or a ballet dancer to stop taking class, why would you think that a four-year liberal arts degree was all you needed? If I would suggest anything to you, start with improv. Choose any of them: UCB, the PIT, the Magnet—just do it! You have a voice inside you that needs training and tools to find its freedom. Also, study something that has nothing to do with performing at all. Suggestion: Read Walt Disney’s biography.
Stop hiding. Risk failing! You seriously have nothing to lose by showing people—including professionals—all of who you are. You don’t need to hide behind alcohol, or shy away from your sexuality anymore. Try watching a little Brené Brown TED talk about vulnerability and challenge yourself to unapologetically own who you are in every situation. If you find it’s too hard to do, get help. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you to find a community in a 12-step program. Start exercising your emotional health with a therapist, or get a life coach to work through whatever blocks are preventing you from authentically being you.
Who are you doing it for? Your family is never going to get what you do, and that’s OK. Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s OK too. In fact, if everyone likes you, you aren’t working hard enough. Your job is merely to invite people to decide whether they want to take part in your journey. Stop holding yourself back from going after what is rightfully yours because you’re afraid other people may not like it. What other people think of you is none of your business, and that includes your family. Remember, the best way to teach is by example so if you want your family and everyone around you to find true happiness, find what makes yourself truly happy. Suggestion: Start with gratitude.
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