That is the question.
Not long ago, I took a mini intro workshop with one of the major acting coaches in LA. It was really cool. I got to see this really experienced and extremely positive coach (and her TA sidekick/hype man) do what she does best. She took a room of total strangers coming from all different acting backgrounds and one by one watched us, coached us, and gave us specific, helpful feedback.
I was extremely impressed and excited after the experience.
I didn’t immediately sign up for classes because I can’t swing it financially at the moment. When I do get a little more cashflow coming my way (which I know is imminent) I’ll be using it to finish off classes at some of the major theaters I’ve already begun. Probably. We’ll see when the cashflow comes.
The point is, one thing I realized while I was in the coaching session is that I’m a producer type. I’m always creating and producing my own projects. I’ve been doing this for years. I don’t know what it feels like to sit around and wait for something to be handed to me. I try and create so many distractions in my own creative worlds and projects that I forget I’m waiting on some other opportunity to come around. That way, if something does pop up, it’s more of a pleasant surprise instead of an absolute need.
I realized this during the class as people went around and told sections of their bios- what they’ve been doing with their time and how they’ve been trained. With one notable exception, everyone in my workshop had maybe taken a couple classes and done not much else. I had to force myself to stop talking before I got to all the stuff I work on because the teacher was done listening. It was an odd feeling. I didn’t want to sell myself short on my accomplishments, but I also didn’t want to take up everyone’s time going through the amount of work I try and take on any given day.
Afterwards, as excited as I was about the prospect of taking classes with this coach and as positive of an experience as I had, something felt a little off. I talked to my good friend (who I met through comedy classes!) about it while on a little stroll in the neighborhood, and she offered awesome advice that just felt right. She said that for a personality like mine, I tend to create my own opportunities. I’m always working on lots of different projects and creating characters that simultaneously showcase my acting and writing abilities. Of course I would benefit from coaching- anyone would- but many times those classes are really great for people like my friend, who are just straight up actors. They want to hone in their craft and learn every element of it to make themselves better. They don’t write their own characters. They don’t produce their own shows. They don’t do nightly performances for the sake of trying to improve their voice as a performer. They act. They take other people’s words, embody that character, and make them reality. I do that- at least I want to do that- but not exclusively.
I began thinking about the difference between the two worlds. I’ve always been a bit of a floater personality, so it’s normal and natural for me to feel like I’m on the fence between several different worlds. I’m not exclusively an actor. If I were to take these coaching classes, I would have to put a number of really exciting projects on hold so that I could immerse myself completely in only acting. This could be good for me in the short run, but it ironically puts a bunch of acting projects on hold that could pan out as better showcases for my talent in the long run. These are projects I’ve been writing and working on for months to showcase my individual voice and acting style. And I’d be putting them on hold to learn how somebody else things I should be saying somebody else’s words.
So I finally decided this: I’d rather be Mindy Kaling than learn how to perfectly audition for The Mindy Project. Mindy is an extremely talented multi-performer (theatrical writer, TV writer, author, actress, stand up, etc). She’s created her own opportunities in this world. She has her own unique voice and style and has demanded the world beat a path to her door instead of trying to follow a bunch of other people’s already existing path.
It’s a longer shot, I realize, to be the woman with her own TV show than it is to have a bit part on an already existing one. But those are the people who’s careers I admire most. I adore Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Amy Shumer, Nick Kroll, Amy Poehler, Pete Holmes, Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell (just to name a few). They’re all people who produce their own stuff. And have for years. And the world eventually responded.
I’m not saying I won’t continue to market and put myself out to already existing projects. I love hopping on other people’s bandwagons. I’m already on a few and hope to be on even more. But I won’t do it at the expense of what really makes my soul soar- which is writing and creating and producing my own projects.
Then again, I’m a creative. I could change my mind about this completely by tomorrow morning. Stay tuned right here, folks, to see what happens.