Her challenge struck a chord with me, and I began struggling with it. I went back through my old blog posts, my lesson plans, my various talks and interviews. I looked for threads that might appear and reappear in every context in which I work. As I did this I realized that I was doing what I challenge my acting students to do: Figure out their mission and what’s important to them, aside from becoming an actor. What do they have to say, what do they want to stand for in the world? I tell them that’s the road to a kind of career satisfaction that can withstand the vagaries of show business, that can sustain them in both the good times and the lean.
This type of self-examination is more and more important in our changing socio-economic landscape. Gone are the days when you could think about having one job with one company that would provide you with security, or even when you could think in terms of having one career. You now have to look not at what your particular job might be, but rather at what your skills and abilities are. Perhaps the most important qualities that you can foster are adaptability and flexibility. Since employers will come and go, showing neither longevity nor loyalty to their employees, your ability to define yourself as a business with an ethos and skill set all your own will set you up to thrive. Don’t think of yourself as an employee. You are a business entity unto yourself, and you conduct business with others.
As I engaged in this exercise of self-reflection one thing kept jumping out at me: the idea of “Story.” In one way or another, all of my study and work has revolved around Story, far more than any other concept. As an English major, I studied literary criticism. As a law student and then as a lawyer, I worked with fact patterns and learned how to pull the salient details out of them to fit one legal theory or another. As an actor and author, I tell stories, and as a literary editor and a teacher of actors and lawyers, I help others find voice for their own, or their client’s.
This realization, that Story has been central to my life, has led to an understanding of myself and my work that is both more succinct and more inclusive. Three women have helped me on this journey, and they have my gratitude: Meghan Pinson, of My Two Cents Editing, posed the initial question; Joanne DeNaut, casting director at South Coast Repertory, helped me find an artistic home after my move to the West Coast; Karen Hensel has fostered my teaching career and honored me by turning her beloved Acting Intensive Program over to my grateful hands.
The results of this questioning have been profound for me. Internally, I now know that all my various enterprises are actually connected, and this helps me to present myself with more confidence and authority. Externally, this exploration has led me to a rebranding, together with a new website that allows me to be more accessible to others in the way that I am now more accessible to myself. Take a look at it if you have the chance. I’d love to know what you think.
Thanks to Dan Reichert of Daniel Reichert Photography for the new headshots and help with the website. If you need new pictures, Daniel is invaluable in helping you capture an image your truest self.
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