Lots of people have a ‘pipe-dream’ (an inherent desire to go after something special) which, more often than not, is a little left of centre, and not you’re average ‘day-job’. I’ve always been fascinated by people who risk their security, stepping out of their comfort-zone to have a crack at their big dream. Among those ‘having a go’, there are a few precious gems who are fighting a daily-fight, relentless in their pursuit. I find these particular stories most-inspirational and motivating toward my own pipe-dream of making lots of people laugh out loud…. It’s like “lol” but on steroids; “loplol”.
Today’s in part-one of the blog-series ‘Choose Your Own Adventure | It’s Totally Worth It’, my friend Kahli Williams (pictured below) graciously let’s us listen-in to her internal-dialogue; exposing the frustration, reward and ultimate reason why she; was, is and will be… an Actor in Australia.
I hope you enjoy it.
“I’m an actor”
“Oh! Have you been in anything I’d have seen?”
“Probably not, a bunch of indie films and short films and co-op theatre,”
“That’s ok, keep going, you’ll make it eventually,” they blindly reassure.
“Haha, yeah professional unemployment, am I right?!”
Ending on a quip takes the edge off of what would seem like an impossible lifestyle; non-committal jobs, last minute auditions and lots of unpaid work. But I love acting – expressing myself and exploration free of judgement; I can’t NOT do it. Julie’s blog title “All or Nothing” is incredibly apt for the actors’ life, so here I am to scratch the surface of why I do it and share a little of my journey.
Were it not for this terminal need to express myself, maybe I would lead a stable life and be sure of my future. But how long can you silence the fat lady who just wants to sing? For me, it was seven years, which entailed a Marketing degree, 4 years of corporate slog and a deep-seated apathy. For my 24th birthday, my best friends gave me an intervention and a gift voucher for an acting course at the VCA. It served as my inner fat lady’s first audience since my musical theatre teenage years. And boy did she sing! With that first note, the stage light re-flickered in my eyes and on my 25th birthday, in a move I called ‘my quarter life crisis’, I swished my scarf, donned my sunnies and sashayed out of the office to live my dream. So was it worth it?
“Few professions require one to question oneself intimately, incessantly and without borders: one’s existence, purpose, motives, fears, hopes. For an actor, it is our job, and yet so much more. It is our drive, to question and consider,” articulates Jasper Bagg; mentor, friend and complex actor and director. “Don’t name it and don’t judge it, because if you do, it can be little else; and if you do define it, you will eliminate other possibilities.” I have mulled over these last words for years since they were first given to me (and repeated many times since!)
It’s nuggets of gold like these that enrich your life as well as your craft, and that I am truly grateful to be in the position of receiving. Would I have received them other than on board my personal soul train through stage and film sets? Would I have met Jasper and the network of extraordinary individuals who I share the journey with? Probably not.
The social definition of success is in reaching landmarks, such as ‘Summer Bay’ or ‘Spielberg’ or ‘one million dollars’. But equally as valid are the indies and shorts (and ‘profit share’s’!) along the way, because regardless of pay or ratings, you commit to each role equally and in turn they teach you more about yourself and humanity.
Each role, be it a stripper, a doctor, a serial killer or a mum, lives within you. Thus, you must, each time, recognise your personal capacity to be any one of them. Ever seriously explored your capacity to commit murder or considered stripping, free of judgement, to the point of justifying it? I have! In doing so, I find the truth in the character I am playing, they become me and I become a richer person.
Success is not where you end, it is the journey and cannot be named or judged. It is fluid and relative to the beholder. Success starts when you take the plunge into an uncertain future, trusting entirely in your own shifting abilities and assets, unsure of their value.
Success is living a life that inspires gut-wrenching excitement and perpetuates passion and growth. Success is the ever-deepening sense of peace and power that comes with taking responsibility for your own happiness. Success is the absolute expression of your soul in every moment, and those moments adding up to a life lived in raw honesty.
This is what I find in acting. So yes, to answer an earlier question, it’s worth it.
Please join me in thanking Kahli Williams; for letting us into the mind and emotion of an Actor in Australia. Her persistence, determination and relentless pursuit of her dream are the ingredients that define our Australian arts and all of its successful contributors.
Image Credit (DREAM): Dr Zimmerman(.com)