The starving artist trope is part of our collective unconscious for a reason- work for a performer can be very feast or famine. Sometimes, we work three gigs in a day because we can’t say no to an opportunity we to do what we love. Other times, a triple day is the result of panicking about being able to pay next month’s bills. It truly is a glamorous life we live.
I was talking with a coworker about this today, about her three shifts in 12 hours and how I have a crazy two weeks ahead of me. In the beginning of January, I was uncertain of what was ahead of me work-wise. The holidays are a great time to work here in Orlando, but the spring can be… dry. No corporate holiday parties that need stilt walkers, you know? As much as I love what I do, every job has sucky parts to it. The sucky part to mine is that I basically live season-to-season, always ready to pick up a retail job to supplement my income.
So picture me sitting at my laptop a few weeks ago, EIGHT browser tabs open with half-complete job applications. An exciting start to 2019. I had four days off that week, four off the next, and I was starting to get concerned. My brain is happiest when I’m working (as is my wallet). I minimized the tabs out of boredom and started scouring any and all audition resources, and submitted my information to some projects that were a little out of my comfort zone.
I’m sharing this not-so-fun time because I know there are people in my community who look at me and think “wow, she’s really made it”. I’m sure there are plenty who look at me and think “wow, she’s so new to all this”. I’m comfortable with that. Honesty is the best policy, and this is my true life as an entertainer.
Because I threw my name in a lot of metaphorical hats, I’ve had some really cool work opportunities come up. I know that what I’m about to do in the next two weeks is basically a full resume for a performer. I’m cartooning, spokeswoman-ing, PA-ing, and doing a parade. I get to work out of town! This month, my greatness is coming from a need to pay the rent. Fun and exciting times, all as a result of being scared about my bills and adult responsibilities. And I didn’t even have to get a retail job (yet).
But what about the other times, when money is good? Isn’t it easy to just show up to work, perform a little, and leave? Go home at the end of the day, make some mac ‘n’ cheese, and watch Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! again? Maybe. I can do that for about a week before I get bored out of my mind. Sure I can change it up, watch Sex and the City, eat a salad, and go to the gym. That really spices things up… for another few days. But the boredom quickly creeps back up, and I’m looking for my next new thing to get excited about.
I attribute my success as a performer to my constant drive to do new things. To be better. To book every role I can. The big fun gigs, and the silly little ones. Anything that lets me put on a different costume and live as a different character. Not every role gets me a great Instagram post, or the respect of those higher on the professional ladder than me, but every role I’ve done has been wonderful in its own way. I become a better artist and a better person with each new opportunity, which is why I’m always chasing the next big thing. And to me, that is the key to achieving greatness.