The Hustle

“I’m always so impressed when I see the breakdown of what you’ve done, the minutes, the hours. So just something to consider for your blog in the future is: Taking a screenshot of your week, broken down, so that you’re not just sharing these experiences, but this is evidence of the hustle. Cause it inspires us and I know it will inspire others.”

Thank you to the incredible Beth Pennington for inspiring today’s blog post. I have taken three screenshots of a typical week for me. In these pictures, you will see the work, the hustle. The work speaks for itself. I hope that these pictures will inspire artists to do the same amount of work (or more) because of the following, all-too-familiar story, that I’m about to share. The story that many of us have unfortunately experienced before. These pictures help me to combat the naysayers. These pictures are my weapons against the doubters and invalidators.

My fellow artists, have you ever been in a situation where someone has asked you, “What do you do for a living?” And you reply, “I’m an actor” or “I’m a writer”. And then the person usually replies with a fake response of like, “Oh, an actor.” Their subtext being, “Great. Another wannabe actor.” You hear their subtext and you start back
peddling your answer, “Yeah, I’m an…actor…you know, I act…sometimes…yeah…but I’m a really great bartender. I can make a killer martini!” You start feeling ashamed and embarrassed to be an actor or any other artistic profession you are pursuing.

Then, they continue their invalidating process with questions like, “Sooo, what have you done?” “What have you been in?” “Are you making money as an actor?” “What have you written?” “Have you sold one of your scripts?” “A screenwriter, huh? Are you with CAA?” And the artist starts to sink further and further into the black hole. They feel small and worthless and the invalidator loves that. I used to be that person that was ashamed of saying, “I’m an actor.” I used to believe that in order to be an actor, I had to be working all the time on a professional level. I fell for that awful perception that a person is only an actor if they’re on a TV series or acting in a studio feature film. And that’s just not true.

I have been fortunate and blessed to be with a teacher and school that has taught me about the bigger picture, how to administrate it and how to be the best actor and artist I can be (The Richard Lawson Studios) I am now confident in telling people that I am an actor AND a writer. I have no shame in telling people that this is what I do. Point. Blank. Period.

I have developed a clarity and a work ethic that allows me to treat my career as a business. We are a business. We need to clock in and out like any other profession and put in the work and the hours. We need to know what we want and go after it on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. We need to be about it. Then, and only then, can we have the confidence to say that we are an actor. Or a writer. Or a director. Or a whatever. Why? Because we now have the evidence, the proof, the statistics to back us up and give us confidence.

When someone tries to invalidate me or write me off as “another wannabe actor”, I quickly shut them down with charm, humor and irony. They’ll ask, “So, what do you do for a living?” I reply, “I’m an actor and writer.” Then, they’ll ask with their sarcastic, doubting tones, “Oh yeah. What have you been in? What have you written?” I give them my business card and say, “If you go to my IMDB page, you’ll see what I’ve been in.”  In this way, I’m directing traffic to my IMDB page and simultaneously raising my IMDB Star Meter 🙂 Then, I say, “There you will see the independent feature films, TV series and web series I’ve been in.”  I also continue with:

**I’ve also shot a handful of national commercials from Toyota to The Hartford Financial Services to Verizon

**I’m currently shopping two TV pilots

**I’m currently shopping one feature film and just finished writing another feature film for James Franco

**I’m in scene study class every Thursday night and the Professional Development Program 2.0 class every Friday morning

**I’m targeting different TV shows, show runners, producers and casting directors with tangible results

**I run a blog and post a new blog entry every Sunday morning

**I utilize social media on a daily basis and have lots of fun with it

**I acted in a feature film in April; I have another feature film receiving distribution in which I play a principal character in that; I was offered a principal role in another feature film that is in active pre-production

**I put in an average of 35 hours a week into my career, and that’s on top of my plan B job

**Ultimately, my goal is to be the next Tyler Perry, Lena Dunham, Cristela Alonzo, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Louis C.K….self-producing artists who create vehicles for themselves

People either shut the fuck up real quick because they see that I’m not just “another actor” or they get really interested and want to know more about me.

So, I’m sharing three pictures of what a typical week looks like in terms of my administration and the amount of time I put into them. Not to show off, but to hopefully inspire. And I’m not just putting in hours for the sake of putting in hours. Rather, every line item and every minute spent is to push a specific project forward. There are no arbitrary actions in my lists. In 2015, I have completed three projects on my plate and just started a new one:

Get a meeting with Creative Artists Agency and Anonymous Content.

(Thank you to the amazing Lindsay Hopper for pushing me to create this project and reach for the top!)

Earlier, I said that these pictures are my weapons because the work doesn’t lie. The stats don’t lie. I can show you everything I’ve done since the first week of January 2015. The invalidators can’t argue against that. They can’t put that down. Every strategic line item of work speaks for itself.

So, fuck the nay sayers. Fuck the doubters. Fuck the invalidators. Fuck the people who want to put you down because you’re doing what they’re too afraid to do themselves. Or because they’re jealous of you and want to bring you down to their level. Fuck them. Don’t let them make you feel bad about being an actor or a writer or a director…a FUCKING ARTIST.

But you will have a better chance of standing up to them when you’re putting in the work and can back yourself up with actions. At least that’s been my experience. When I’m walking the walk, creating the evidence, being about it, putting in the work on a
daily basis, going to class and staying sharp with my craft, and most importantly, HAVING FUN, then nobody can take that away from me.

Before we jump to the commercial break–I mean, the pictures below–I leave you with this amazing quote from Madonna. This was her response to all the critics who continue to write her off:

“It makes me realize how miserable most human beings are and how instead of celebrating that someone could come from nothing and do something with their life, they have to try to tear you down. Because ultimately, people don’t want to be reminded of how little they’ve accomplished in their own lives.”

Let’s continue being the amazing fucking artists that we are! I would love to hear your experiences!

Please scroll down past the tags below to see the three pictures. I’ve taken out the names of some people and some TV shows on purpose. And you can click on each picture to enlarge the text:

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