Creative Living

The Deal with Day Jobs

I have had sooo many day jobs. Wait, I feel I can make this more clear….I haven’t had sooo many day jobs….I’ve had SOOOOOO many day jobs ya’ll.

Retail, customer service, food industry, healthcare, talent agent, I could keep going…

Trying to balance a day job while managing a career in the arts is the perfect double edged sword.

Some creative jobs need you to be available in the day time, so then you’ll have to work at night. Some need you at night, so you have to work during the day – but I’ve always found that most creative careers need you to be free literally all the time. Even if you have been doing theatre at night, you can get cast in something that rehearses during the day. If you paint by day, all of a sudden your paintings are in a gallery and you have to be there at night for viewings. You’re in a band and trying to balance a schedule with four other people who all have different kinds of jobs to work around. What it comes down to is; there will always be conflicts.

This probably has held the most stress for me throughout my early twenties. It’s still a stress. Even without the scheduling issues, there are still a number of things about we look for in day jobs that make us looney…like…

  • Finding a job you like and can stand doing 40 hours a week.
  • An understanding boss who will be flexible.
  • Pays all of your bills + some for saving.
  • Doesn’t tire you out.
  • Has coworkers you enjoy.
  • Is close to home.

So after having many a day job in my life….and after making so many mistakes….here’s what I’d advise:

1. Be up front about your creative career.
This one is so tough. No one wants to walk into an interview and say “Hey I need to be available for auditions, practice, what have you, so I need to be able to swap shifts, take off certain days, or pop out for an hour here and there.” Trust me, I get it. It’s awkward and could very much guarantee that you don’t get the job. Here’s the thing though, it’s way better then a month later when you have something come up and you never warned your boss, so now they respect you even less, you’re stressed out of your mind and thinking you now need to quit. Be honest right off the bat. Think of it as you’re interviewing them as well for a job that fits your lifestyle. The past 2 jobs I’ve had I’ve been up front and honestly, they appreciate it. Maybe you won’t get that job, but that job isn’t for you anyways.

2. Really think it over before taking a promotion.
I’ve made this mistake. Taking a promotion sounds so lovely because they’re usually coming to you with dollar dollar bills ya’ll, but look, it’s going to be more work. It just is. You’re already at your wits end already trying to juggle a day job and a career, don’t put more on yourself if you’re not up for the task. It also means your boss will expect more from you, and you might not be able to put forth as much effort as you think. In my experience it has also taken away from my creativity. All of my stress was going towards my day job, when really I should be focusing on what I really want to make a career out of. I’ve found this has mostly happened with taking on a manger position. I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m just saying; think about it.

3. Make sure it’s something you can see yourself withstanding…
I know what you’re thinking: “Oh yeah Kelly, that’s super easy, thanks for the tip, jerk.” I know, I know. This is so hard. I’m not good at this one to be honest. I’ve worked so many jobs that wore me out, made me very unhappy and honestly hurt my soul, but that’s why I can talk about this. So often we are looking to lock down a job so quickly that we don’t take the time to really do our research, look deep within and say, hmm what would interest me? Something I learned is that I actually really like an office setting. Working at Starbucks wasn’t for me because it was a very active job and left me so tired, I had no time for creativity. Now that I’m at an office job I can think, okay – well what do I actually want to be doing at an office? Ask yourself every question you can think of about your interests and what your boundaries are. I hear people say “ugh well all day jobs suck, I’ll never find something I really like.” That’s bologne. They do exist, but you need to be willing to do the work.

4. Remember…it’s just a day job.
This is the hardest one for me. I’m a very passionate (sensitive) person. I throw myself hard into everything I do. I can get so stressed out if things aren’t going my way or the way I think they should go. I’ll admit it. I care. Honestly, I care too much and it’s not in a good way. It’s unhealthy and I often have to check in with myself and say…”girl…it’s JUST a job.” That’s to say…it’s not something I want long term so, why am I getting so bent out of shape about it? Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to care. Like I said above, you want to work somewhere that you like and can withstand, but please don’t put so much stress and energy into it, unless you really DO want to be there long term. Otherwise, it truly is a moot point. I’m working on this myself. It’s not easy, but once I do check in with myself, the clouds clear.

5. Find the motivation in it.
By this I mean…do the job for your career. Treat it as a stepping stone. Open up a savings account dedicated to your art whether that’s buying a new guitar, opening up a studio, publishing your first book, buying headshots, having the ability to take off 5 months for auditions, whatever! This will give you that kick in the ass to get to work. I’ve found this to be immensely helpful.

Well, those are my top tips. Not much to it really. I don’t think this pertains only to people who want a creative career. I think this can work for anyone who is looking for a career change and needs some time to mull it over, or any one who needs something temporary.

Job searching sucks, but once you find the right fit, you have every reason to be grateful. Every successful person I know, and many that I don’t, worked day jobs to help them to where they are. Embrace it. Learn from it. I’ve learned so much from every job I’ve had and I honestly have no regrets.

So, pull up your socks kids…and get to work.

Self care, self flare.

xoxo

Kelz

Creative Living

Owning Your Creative Career

A few years ago a friend said to me “I’d never pass up on an opportunity to perform.” At the time I thought – “Oh crap. I’ve definitely passed up opportunities to perform. I’ve even DONE shows I wish I’d turned down. What does this mean about my commitment?!”

Years later I realized – oh, I don’t need to do things her way at all.

I wanted to start off this post with that so I can be clear – anything I write here might only work for some people and not every one. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my creative career it’s that there is not one way to do it. No matter how many teachers tell you there is. (Even though each teacher says something different. Coincidence?) Creative careers are fickle – you have to find what works for you.

With that being said: here are my top 6 tips.

 

1. Don’t prioritize it. 

Weird right? All signs point to that you should. That’s a trap.

I spent years making my career the end all be all and I was hella miserable. I took a year off making it my priority and guess what? I booked more and was way less stressed. Think about it. A creative career is filled with wonderful feels but is also met with daily rejection. If you’re prioritizing your creative career, you’re prioritizing the rejection that comes with it. Don’t do that to yourself! Now I bet you’re thinking – “but Kelly, I want to be on Broadway, I have to tirelessly submit to every casting director,  practice till my voice hurt and hit every audition I can to make it!”

Uh okay, but could you maybe prioritize your health first? Getting a good night sleep? Don’t miss your morning meditation? Hit the gym? Or maybe prioritize your friendships? Agree to see your friend the night before your audition instead of staying home running your monologue for the 100th time? If you make your career your everything – you have a much higher chance of walking into that opportunity desperate as all hell. Trust me, I’ve been there. It looks a lot like this:

Instead, I prioritize my health first. My fitness goals. My journaling. My meditation. It’s something totally in my control and sets me up for success in all other areas of my life. What’s something in your control that you love dearly? Put that first.

 

2. Put yourself out there

This one I struggle with in the networking sense, but it is very much true that, it’s not only about who you know – but who knows you. I know this can be a hard pill to swallow, but I try to think of it this way: going to my friends shows is networking and if I introduce myself to someone who I admire and I don’t vibe with them well – I don’t put the pressure on myself to further that relationship. A lot of people would and have said otherwise. “Know and work with everyone you can!” What a load of bologna.

Try to make it fun. I only go to events that spark an interest in me – but I must admit, networking is my biggest hurdle. I’m a huge home body and my generalized anxiety doesn’t help the situation. That’s cool – we can work on this together!

3. Create your own work

Not only do you have to do this, it will save your creative soul. Writing my own shows and producing my own work has been a life saver for me. For one thing, you don’t have to audition or pitch for an-y-bo-dy to make it, and maybe it will turn into something amazing and you can send off the finished product to a film festival, improv fest, art gallery, blog sites, whatever! Or you can produce a show/film/dance/concert. Get whatever rights you need, book a space and DO IT. Film a stupid short and put it on YouTube. I blog and have a YouTube channel and I write sketches and shows. That’s what I do in between auditions and the like. It will bring you so much joy, a sense of accomplishment AND it might lead somewhere.

 

4. Avoid talking about your creative career with ummm…non creatives (cough YOUR FAMILY) 

Sorry mom and dad. Unless your family comes from a long line of artists in some way shape or form, they’re not going to understand the grasps of your career. They don’t know how hard it is. They never can and they never will. That’s not their fault and it’s not their fault that they want to hear about all of your endeavors and whether you’re doing anything big or exciting. They just want the best for you and what you’re doing is brave. At the same time though, it hurts to say “no I’m not booking” or “I’m taking some time off” or “It’s dry out there, no opportunities.” These are all real scenarios! To be honest, whenever I get asked questions like that, I say the quickest response such as “Yep, it’s going well” and change the subject. Sometimes I don’t even tell people the big things that happen because, I really don’t want my whole being to be all about my career. This one’s a toughy. Everyone’s situation is different. To sum it up though – if it hurts to talk about your career, you don’t have to and it doesn’t make you care any less.

 

5. Take time away from it all. 

I’m going to quote the great Mick Napier here:

Take a break occasionally. From it all. For perspective, sanity, life. You and what you bring to the stage will benefit from your actual life experience. My own life has been a series of wonderful hobbies.

Friends, I implore you – take a break. I did and it’s been so cathartic for me. So cathartic, that I’m now using the word “cathartic” in my vocabulary. I know what you’re thinking:

“If I stop I’ll lose my edge! People will forget about me! I’ll die!”

  1. Get over yourself – taking a break IS an edge because most people don’t do it.
  2. Everyone is too wrapped up in their own shit to forget about you because they’d have to remember you to begin with. They’ll pick back up when you return, don’t worry.
  3. Well if you do die, you’ll die stress free….like Reese Witherspoon. Does anyone else think that woman looks so relaxed all the time?

 

6. Practice – but for the fun of it

Practice your craft. The oldest trick in the book. Whip out a new monologue. Write a short. Play your guitar. Paint the sky. Do something for even just 10 minutes a day, or 1 hour a week even! You don’t have to get all fancy and turn your bedroom into this big practice space. It can be simpler than that. I remember reading acting books from the greats like Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg (ENEMIES by the way, I’ll save that for my biography on them) and they’d urge you to rearrange your entire apartment to fit the character! Practice for 2 hours day trying to feel this orange or the snow or a dog! BE THE CHAIR!

Like okay? What if I just study the script interpretation of this play and pet my cat? Sound good?

Do what is FUN. Don’t worry about all the bits and bops, as is my phrase for when something is quite frankly, nonsense.

Oooo I can hear Uta Hagen shouting at me now.

Hey – if the big intense stuff is fun for you, then hell yeah.

You be that chair girlfran.

 

Anyways, I hope this was helpful. I’ve spent so many years living through the painful parts of being a creative that I completely lost sight of my love for it. Finding the joy in what I do and taking a step back from all of the shoulds gave me a fresh perspective. Try one of these tips over the next few weeks. Let me know how it goes!

 

And remember, your career is not who you are. You are a person first. Just like Dr. Burke…on Grey’s Anatomy…Season 1

 

Damn…I wish I could find a GIF for that…

 

Self care, self flare.

 

xoxo

Kelz

 

 

 

Creative Living

Thick Skin – The Grossest thing I’ve ever heard.

First of all, “thick skin” makes me think of “foreskin” and who in their right mind wants to ever think about foreskin?

I digress in the first sentence…

I used to love the term “thick skin.” It made me feel like if I had it, I was a superhero. I was tough and professional. Strong and unbeatable. If I got a critique from an acting teacher – my family, some friends, other teachers would come back at me with….”Well, you need to have a thick skin about these things if you want to make a career out of this.” In a lot of ways, I get it. People are cruel in any business honestly. You can’t obsess over the shitty things people say to you or about you because if you do…you’ll spiral into a type of depression I don’t even want to write about.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past month though. There have been some personal issues taking center stage in my life that have really brought out my sensitive side. I found myself trying to talk myself out of how I feel. Telling myself that I’m overreacting and I need to get over it. It’s something I’m conditioned to do and I find that this happens any time my feelings are hurt. So basically I’ve decided it’s bullshit.

 

I don’t think “thick skin” is what we should ask people to have when something upsetting happens. I think it harbors resentment and anger. Want to know how I know? I’m very resentful and angry ya’ll!

Telling any one to have thick skin is the same as saying “how about you bury that deep down and never open that box ever.” What in the holy heckin hell is that going to do? Nada. It’s okay to feel shitty that you didn’t get the part, that your partner dumped you, that someone said something mean and it triggered you. It’s seriously all good. The times that I’ve let myself process and grieve have helped me grow so much. Do you need some examples of when I didn’t let myself process and grieve? Great! I’m going to process and grieve in this blog post.

 

I’m mad that I got rejected from a lot of the colleges I auditioned for (even though I love the college I went to) it sucked. I’m mad that the first show I auditioned for in NYC ended up being a total joke and the director was using actors for money. I’m mad that when I moved to Chicago I dated a string of guys who were absolutely the worst and that I didn’t say it to their faces when I had the chance. I’m mad that I have had consistent struggles getting cast in equity AND non-equity shows in Chicago and know that a lot of it comes down to not going to school here and not being friends with enough people here who did. I’m mad that I’ve let people say certain things to me or about me that are abusive and that I didn’t stand up for myself.  I’m mad that my family dynamic is different since I moved. I’m mad that I have a mental illness and need to find ways to deal with that. PEOPLE, I’m mad!

 

I’m so glad I feel something at least. Finally. “Mad” is a good place to start. Maybe “thick skin” means something different to you. To me though, it felt like I had to just be okay with the things that have hurt me but never deal with it. Just get over it and move on. Time’s up on that. I have a life time of hurt ahead of me. It’s just true. I bet if I let myself process that hurt – it would save me a lot of resent and I wouldn’t look how I look right now – which is like this:

I’m pretty sure when women in Hollywood tried to tell any one about what Harvey Weinstein did to them – some asshole probably told them they needed to have “thick sin.” Mull over that for a minute……

Pretty gross right?

  • Process what you’re feeling.
  • What is it that upset you?
  • Is it something you can learn from?
  • Is it something you ever want to deal with again?
  • Have some ice cream.
  • Watch a funny movie.
  • Talk to a family member or friend.
  • Make sure you are safe physically and mentally.
  • THEN move on.

NOT:

  • You’re hurt.
  • Move on.

Like…on what planet?

Yeah, probably Uranus.

Feel your feels.

Let your skin loose. She’s been trapped for far too long.

Self care. Self flare.

 

xoxo

Kelz

Creative Living

I Worked at a Talent Agency for a Year…Here’s what I learned

Okay – this one is for all of you actors, artists, creatives – whatever. I try to make my blog posts catered to every one but, eh, maybe others will find it interesting.

I’m not going to say the name of the agency. Honestly, it’s not relevant. Anything I have to say has nothing to do with that agency specifically. It’s universal baby.

 

When I started working there I was part time, working as a standardized patient as well. I made my way over to full time and quit my job as an SP in hopes that working at the agency would bring me closer to my field (acting, wink wink nudge nudge) but honestly…6 months in I was woke and more alarmed by my field than anything.

I learned a lot about the bizzzzz.

Look, I thought I knew the bizzzzz, but…..I didn’t really know….the bizzzzz.

The people I was interacting with on the daily consisted of casting directors, producers and various internal clients (department stores, ad agencies, marketing, blah…blah..blah)

They’d send a breakdown of roles they were looking for to cast their commercial, industrial, short film, print ad, what have you.

As an agent, you take the character descriptions and send links of headshots/resumes and then the client/casting director picks who they’d like to have audition.

Here’s the first weird thing I noticed….

I’d often submit people who were right on the nose for what they were asking for (for example: improviser, must have comedic timing, pretty but not obviously pretty) things of that nature…and you know who would get picked?

The person of the bunch who is the least of all like that description.

The person they’ve seen 20 times already this year.

The person I submitted for a totally different role.

This often left me feeling like this:

Um, I’m sorry? Do you know what you want?

No! They don’t. They put a breakdown out there of what they think makes sense or of what they wrote and then they see headshots and all bets are off.

Let me tell you, this wasn’t just an every now and then occurrence, it was an every week occurrence.

This was true for casting directors and other internal clients – every one.

Lesson one: It’s truly a role of the dice. (hehehe role, get it?)

The next thing I noticed was – not surprisingly – how many roles there were for men compared to women.

Ahaaaa hahahahaha HAHAHAHAH….HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAAAAA!!!!

Seriously. There would be a breakdown for 19 roles and 13 of them are for men.

One time a client called me and said “I have an industrial to book and need one talent to basically recite a monologue to the camera….I’m thinking it will be a man….I have no idea why…I just picture it being a white male.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Uh, I know why! You’re used to seeing white men in ev-er-y-thing.

Lesson two: We still have a lot of work to do on equality in the entertainment industry. 

The biggest lesson I learned was just how much literally nothing is in your control and how much luck and timing plays into a career as an actor….and how much time I’d spent and risk I’d put on my mental health to please so many people….when the number one person I should please is myself.

I know. I know. The business is fast moving. Time is money.  You, yourself as an actor are a product, your own business. You need to play by the rules. Show up on time. Be prepared. Be cooperative. Don’t cut or dye your hair ever unless you want to get new headshots right now. Don’t get a job that you can’t leave for an hour to audition or take a day off even though we might not book you, risk it! Make sure people know who you are. Take classes, submit your materials every month, blah blah blah. We can do all of these things – and we’re simply not lucky or the timing is not right.

Hey friends – I’ve been that person – I AM that person – and guess what? People I knew who were very much not that person were getting called in to audition over and over and over again.

Look, this is not to say you should be a total dick and you’ll still get ahead. In fact I know a lot of people who were dicks and never got called back in again. It just blew my mind how many people like myself were submitted – people who really worked hard, fit the role, were always prepared and putting themselves out there and I couldn’t get them in the door.

Yet we give so many people control over our craft and we give them the power to decide if we’re good enough or talented enough.

The most spot on feedback I’ve ever gotten from an acting teacher was this “You’re a very low maintenance actor. You’re told what to do and you do it.” While I find this to be a gift, I discovered it was also hurting me. As actors we are trained to kneel at the alter of agents, casting directors, producers, directors, teachers, fill in the blank. I’d always played by the rules. I’d always done what I was told. I’d let every one decide if I was enough. But honestly people….it’s kind of bullshit.

This is not to diss those people AT ALL. It’s meant to show that we’re all a lot more alike than we think. Every one is just trying to please someone. Agents to casting directors. Casting directors to clients. Actors to EVERYONE. It dawned on me: the number one person I want to please is myself.

I don’t want to be at anyone’s beck and call any more. Why should I? The time I spend constantly stressing over someone noticing me can be spent creating my own work. I can’t tell you how many years I’ve stressed over being good enough. I’ve taken every class ever suggested, tried to meet every important person I could, went crazy over my body image, shipped post card after post card, despaired over other people who WERE booking. Everything always felt so personal, but you know what…..it’s NOT. It feels like everything is about you, but it is so far removed from being about you. It’s luck and timing. Luck…and timing. Do your work, create, act – the rest will fall into place.

You are enough.

Every one is doing the best they can, and yeah it’s true that some people have the power to get you work. But you know what? You can’t put your life in their hands. You just can’t. You will be so miserable. I promise you. It was so abundantly clear to me in that year as an agent, that I need to create, act, perform because I love it and to stop putting pressure on my art to make me money or make me “noticeable.” The truth is, if you really care and put your whole heart and soul into what you’re doing – it will be impossible not to notice you.

Final lesson: Act by your own rules and your rules alone. They “need” you just as much as you “need” them. Do it for the love of it. 

Well, that was quite the blabber, huh?

I hope this gave some helpful insight. Being an actor is such an incredible, bold and brave thing. It makes you sparkly and full of light. Don’t give that away for any one.

 

Self care, self flare.

xoxo

Kelz

 

Creative Living

Fame, Loss and what I wore

Here’s the scoop:

 

No, you probably haven’t seen me in anything.

 

No, I don’t audition every week, sometimes not every month.

 

And no, I’m not going to remember you when I’m famous.

 

Because,

 

News flash,

 

I’m not going to be famous. 

 

 

I mean, I can’t predict the future but – I decided to become an actor because I love it. Full stop.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve been working through this in Therapy. God bless my poor therapist…

The idea of success and accomplishments has been linked to being famous since before I can remember. Not just from family and friends but from strangers….

I cringe when I tell people that I’m an actor. I know that the first thing they’re going to ask me is “Oh have I seen you in anything?!” Then I say “Oh well, probably not.” Then I awkwardly start panicking and think oh my God what am I going to say? What can I embellish? If I tell them I did this Bertolt Brecht play are they going to know what that means? I mean there’s a chance they could have seen my improv show last Wednesday night at 10pm….Then I usually stick with “I’ve done a lot of one off things…probably nothing you’ve seen” Then they usually reply with an uncomfortable “oh cool” 

Then we awkwardly change the subject…and I immediately feel shame.

Like….why?!

 

I mean it’s so bonkers.

 

Okay, okay I know people don’t mean it to be rude. Leading an artistic and creative life is bold to be honest, and a lot of people wish they had the guts to do it, and most of the artists they know ARE famous. But ya’ll….when you really think about it, it’s a pretty rude question!

 

 

Here’s the thing though – I know it doesn’t happen to only actors. Honestly, I think this kind of pressure get’s put on a lot of people in all kinds of careers, especially as children. It’s the pressure to be the best, and to be someone of notoriety.

Sentences like:

 

“Remember me when you’re rich and famous”

“Thank me when you win your nobel prize”

Even:

“You’re going to be a heartbreaker”

or

“One day you’ll save the world”

 

These words have such an impact. I’m not saying we shouldn’t believe in our children, friends, family or yes, even strangers. But if we applauded the journey as much as we applauded the distant and often out of reach result, I think we would feel so much better about ourselves.

I along with many people I know deal with feeling inadequate every day. I lose all the time before I ever win. When I’m asked “Have I seen you in anything?” I immediately feel embarrassed, uninteresting and at a standstill. I’ve booked so much great work, been in hundreds of rewarding shows big and small and I can almost guarantee that you haven’t seen me in any of it – because guess what, there are a ton of performers out there and about 10% of them are famous. I’ve spent so much energy on auditions and poured my heart out into my classes – but this not what people want to know about me. That’s a shame.

So, I’ve been thinking of ways to subtly change the dynamic when people ask me this question. I’ve also been pondering how I can be more mindful when asking about someone’s career.

Look, I don’t have the answers – not yet anyway. I just come here to my blog and shout my opinions at you like a coked up politician……wait a minute…..like most politicians?

 

 

I digress.

We can never fully understand the ladders people have to climb to reach a breakthrough in their career or life path in general.

I’m going to make a conscious effort to grow more curious about the path and not the destination.

Lastly, if you ever ask me if you’ve seen me in anything.

I’ll politely respond with….“Yes….in your moms chest hair”

 

 

Self care, self flare.

 

xoxo

Kelz

 

Creative Living

My Way

I’ve been listening to this great podcast called “The Power Hour.” It’s hosted by a woman named Adrienne Herbert. It’s a British interview driven podcast. She interviews everyone from writers to activists to CEO’sThe concept of the podcast is to motivate and inspire. It definitely gets the job done, because every time I listen I feel a huge surge of creative energy. 

 

 

At the end of each episode they discuss the power hour which is the time you spend every morning that is just for you. You can do anything from meditating to journaling to taking a bath to having your own personal dance party to going for a walk – you get the picture. The point is to start your morning in a place of joy. I think it was in her episode with singer Poppy Adjuha that they discussed success and never giving up on your dreams. She said something I’ve heard a million times before: “You have to really want it, more than anything.” I have such a love/hate relationship with this sentence for two reasons:

  1. I know it’s kinda true.
  2. What do we have to sacrifice by wanting so much?

 

 

I know what it feels like to want something so badly you’ll do anything to make it happen, and I think in a lot of ways that did make me successful…but it also made me resentful, which resulted in me not getting what I want. No wants to hang with the bitter Betty – and they definitely don’t want to hire her.

 

Therefore, I’ve found these to be hard words to live by. So many cliche’d sayings like this have really had me thinking the past few months. I’ve always been pretty traditional:

 

“go for your dreams”

“shoot for the stars”

“you can do it if you believe it”

“always wear a bra”

 

I’m beginning to question these beliefs…except the one about wearing a bra. Cold nipples are no joke.

 

 

All this babble to say – I don’t believe that the only way I can achieve success is if I want that certain thing to the point where I’m willing to sacrifice a significant amount of joy to achieve it. So, I’m trying things my way. What does that mean? I don’t know. Like – it’s Monday. Give me a week. Or 5. Or years. I’m going to find a way to be happy and go for my goals. I’m going to give it as much focus and attention as I feel I can, and if I’m not feeling joy, well, I’ll take a break, do something else, get a scoop of ice cream. The options are endless.

 

That’s right. I want to have my cake and eat it too. Those who say you can’t, have either never tried or don’t like cake. No one likes those people anyways.

 

Self care. Self flare.

 

xoxo

Kelz

 

 

Creative Living

Saying NO…(but I’ve been conditioned to say yes, and..)

Creatives (definitely actors) are often told to take what they can get. It’s a tough world out there. Opportunities are few and far between. If you don’t say yes, you’re at risk of working at Walmart for the rest of your life, or worse – not being considered a “real” artist. Oh whoa is me. I can’t tell you how much this has fudged me up not only as a creative, but also in my daily life. Actually, I can tell you and I’m about to.

Take a seat.

When I was a wee little Kelly back in the 90’s, my mother got me involved in everything. I took dance classes, piano lessons, ice skating, karate (I think? Was that a dream? Note to self: ask mom) I even played basketball for a hot minute. HUGE mistake. I was the only girl on the team. That and growing up with 3 older brothers meant I was introduced to toxic masculinity way earlier than any child should. Ugh, but that’s not the point. The point is that I was always encouraged to do more and more and more. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for a kid to experiment and find what they’re passionate about. However, this means I was already in a complicated spot to begin with going into a career in the arts.

Here’s what happened once I graduated with my BFA in acting. I moved to Chicago and pounded the pavement hard. I’d say yes to every opportunity that came my way. Every class. Every show. Every awful improv team filled with a bunch of dudes in who made me play “the crazy girlfriend.” Everything. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was saying yes to way too much, but it has taken me long to stop and start saying no. I can really only speak for actors in this instance but I’m sure other artists can relate. Here’s what we’re told:

  • We’re told we need to work harder than every single person out there to even have a chance of being noticed.
  • We’re told we need to hustle as hard as possible. Show up to every audition even if it means waiting all day and never getting seen.
  • We’re told we should take every opportunity to perform because it will always keep us “sharp” and who knows who will be in the crowd?!
  • We’re told we should work for no pay because it will fluff up our resume, or maybe we’ll meet someone who can help us in the future.
  • We’re told to network network network. Go to everything and mingle your ass off.
  • Say yes to that student film project. Hey, it might be crappy but what if it ends up being good and you can use it for your reel?! A DOLLAR IN A DREAM MY FRIEND.
  • We’re asked when we’ll be seen on television or if we’ve ever been in anything someone may have seen before. Which is a whole different kind of pressure I can’t even get into here.

And so on and so on. Look, I’ve been acting, improvising and writing/putting up shows in this city, out of college, for almost 6 years now. I know there is massive truth to a lot of these points…but I also think it’s dangerous…I’ve said yes to so many shows, teams, classes and films that did not benefit me in the least. In fact, they’ve made me resentful. They’ve hurt relationships, burnt me out and have added an anxiety to my life that I could really do without. I think a lot of teachers/coaches are telling artists to say yes more than they realize…A sentence like “you need to work harder than every single person competing with you” has haunted me on a daily basis. It cultivates a feeling of “not enough-ness” that is already running rampant in our industry. Yes, it takes a lot of perseverance, thick skin, hard work and skill to work as an artist but I think the creative part get’s lost. What if we chose work based solely on a connection to the material or people involved? What if we took care of ourselves first and put the audition on Sunday second on the list? Does that mean we’re not still working hard? I don’t know about you – but I do perform a lot better when I’ve practiced self care and felt passion for what I’m doing. I’m out there like:

Not saying “no” when I know I’m overwhelmed or not interested has made its way over to my personal life as well. I pack way too much on my plate because I feel such guilt saying no. Isn’t that insane? I once did a 6 week run of a show that I hated because I felt guilty saying no. I’ve worked 12 hour shifts every day for a week because all I know is “work harder, harder, harder!” So really, being an actor has made me feel rejected and guilty every week. Holy shit. That’s pretty fudged if you ask me.

So I’m trying a different method. Any time I am asked to do something, which is every day, I’m going to stop and actually ask myself “do I feel a drive to do this?” “Do I feel it’s something I want to do?” “Do I feel passionate about it?” “Do I feel it will help me or others?” “Do I have the TIME?

Does this seem a little overboard and meticulous? I mean, sure. Though, as my one day close friend Brene Brown would say “choose discomfort over resentment.” Choose saying no if you truly don’t feel you want to do something. Choose asking yourself the uncomfortable or overbearing questions. Choose yourself. Maybe it seems selfish, but I don’t think it does anyone any service to have my grumpy, resentful and exhausted presence doing something for them! Words to live by folks.

Well those are my thoughts this week. Till next time:

Self care. Self flare.

xoxo

Kelly

Creative Living

Rejection- the cool guy

It’s no secret that Actors face rejection more than the average human. We hear “No” far more times than we hear “Yes.” Sometimes we face rejection every single day. Not just from a job, but from a variety of other things like our bank accounts being over drawn due to giving up that shift for an audition, an upset partner or spouse who doesn’t feel we’ve given them enough of their attention because we’re distracted by our careers, and often we are rejected from the countless submissions we put in that get no response. Hello? Did I just email an abyss? Crickets.

For me, rejection was something I got on board with pretty quickly. It was hammered into us at school and I understood that if I wanted to be in this business I’d have to get used to it. So I did. I went to auditions and mastered the ability to not think about the outcome. Honestly, it’s worked for me for a long time. Not any more. Now? Now it feels like it stares me right in the face the second I wake up. Sitting at the end of bed. Judging me. No, it wasn’t a ghost. I checked.

I’ve been acting out in the “real world” (whatever that means) for five years now. Like literally everyone- I am not where I thought I would be by now and it’s making it easier to fall into the rut of comparing myself to others and doubting myself relentlessly.  Aka death for an actor. Left to ask myself the most heartbreaking question- what’s the point? I fell into a depression and by the time I realized it, I knew I’d been in it for a long time. I started thinking about rejection a lot. What it does to us. What it means. I asked myself the tough questions. Are you sure this is what you want to do? Could you see yourself being happy doing anything else? Why do you love this? What is your mission as an artist? Some I was able to answer quickly and some took a little time but when it comes down to it I cannot imagine leading my life any other way. I love what I do even if it means I face rejection every single day. Shit. Isn’t that crazy? That’s LOVE. And love is crazy.

This discovery led me to the most important question of all; What do I need? 

If I’m going to stay in this crazy dysfunctional relationship of a career path, I need to practice self love every single day. That’s right. Self love. The thing we hear so much about but ignore it because we don’t have time because of all the actor busy work that takes up our lives and blah blah blah. It’s okay. I ignored it too. Actually I straight up acted like it didn’t exist in my world. Kind of like the nerdy guy who wants the girl but the girl is too distracted by the cool guy and- OMG did I just make a Sixteen Candles connection?! Amazing.

Friends, we need to let the nerdy guy in. He’s desperate to make our lives better. If he’s anything like Michael C. Hall he’s just gonna give us the nudge we need (but like without showing our panties to his friends.) This advice isn’t just for artists. It’s for anyone out there who feels they are constantly being set aside. We all feel the pain and fear that tells us “I’m not enough.” We are enough and the first person who needs to start acting like it is us.

So, I’m on a path to self disc-love-ery. <—like what I did there? Nailed it. What does that mean? It means I wake up every day and ask myself “What do I need?” Usually I need the things that bring me instant bliss: journaling, meditation, working out, writing my gratitudes, reading, eating a bunch of frozen yogurt, working out, watching my favorite movies, buying myself something random but joyful, taking in personal development resources, skimming my favorite bookstore, grabbing a latte, the possibilities are endless. Carving out time to do this every day can make a world of difference because you’re telling mr. cool guy rejection “Hey, that’s cool. I’m hanging out with nerdy self love today so I’m busy anyways.” It’s liberating. It’s powerful. It will put you back in control of your life. I promise you.

Rejection will come every which way. So if you’re already facing it from the outside why would you reject yourself? Don’t. Give your nerdy self a loving chance.

Creative Living

“Thoughts on Developing a Solo Show and Creating your own Work”

 

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Going into the second run of my solo show “A Touchy Subject” leaves me feeling accomplished, lucky and (for lack of a better word)….icky. Not a feeling you would guess being that I’m about to have a stage all to myself for 50 minutes. Every actors dream right? Truth is, I felt this way during the first run as well. People would ask me days before “Are you so excited?!” I’d faint a reluctant “Yeah….!” Of course it’s an amazing opportunity and yes I want to show off my work, but the truth of the matter is that the amount of vulnerability going into a solo project makes it difficult to jump for joy. Sharing your work is just as daunting as reading your fifth grade diary out loud. Even if the whole thing is hilarious, it’s still your own personal insecurities, thoughts, feelings, and short comings being flaunted for whoever buys a ticket to see. That’s scary.

When first writing this show, it was bits on bits on bits. I wrote all my characters as funny as I possibly could and I didn’t really think twice about it. It’s going up at Second City. It’s a comedy show. It’s supposed to be all laughs right? My director, Jonald Reyes took one read and said….”Yeah but where’s the heart?” Puzzler. I didn’t think much about the heart. Why? Because my good ol’ human shield was up to protect it. Writing a show about being an actor was difficult enough for me to grasp. Acting in a show about being an actor? Really Kelly? That’s all there is to you? It took a while, and a lot of self-talk to say to myself “No, of course that’s not all there is to me. However, this is where the majority of my vulnerability comes from and there are so many issues for women in the industry that I know I can bring to light.” Still though, I couldn’t get my heart in. It took a couple rewrites before I delved deep into my old journals, pictures, various resources to find the roots that got me to this point. What culminated from this was a funny, ridiculous, heartbreaking, very human show I am proud of.

Here’s what I want to say: being vulnerable is not exciting. Not for me at least. It’s terrifying, but that makes it brave and that’s a feeling I can get on board with. If I were just excited to share my work with the world, I’d be worried about the material. Creativity without heart is depriving it and everyone else of its true potential. Because if our stories can reach someone else and effect change, well that’s pretty damn cool. At the end of the day, isn’t that kind of the point?