I’m writing this in a coffee shop over a muffin/latte dinner before rehearsal and I’m feeling proud and nostalgic. Right now, many of my dearest friends in the world are performing their final showcase in LA and will graduate at the end of this week.
They’re all talented wonderful BABES and so in honor of them, I thought I’d share
The ten things that graduating seniors (particularly arts majors) need to hear:
1. IT LITERALLY DOES NOT MATTER WHO THE ROCKSTARS WERE IN SCHOOL
At all. It’s completely irrelevant. Some of the most successful people after graduation are the people who were completely shafted. And by contrast, many of the rockstars can’t get work.
And while a bigger pond means more fish, it also means more fishermen.
AND after you graduate, you have to go find your success. The people who don’t put in the effort don’t reap the rewards. Everyone is on even ground once that diploma is in hand.
2. Take videos of yourself performing. Get pictures. Make people see you. You need a reel. Good luck.
You won’t book if nobody sees your work. Nobody sees your work if you don’t make it easy for them to find. Make it easy for people to see your work. That will precede booking.
We live in the 21st century and everyone has a camera on their phone.
You have no excuse.
Unless your excuse is laziness, but then I can’t help you.
3. The more you work, the more you work.
Newton’s first law doesn’t lie y’all: objects in motion tend to stay in motion and objects at rest tends to stay at rest. If you want to be a performer—perform. Even a gig you aren’t thrilled about is better than no gig at all. If you’re singing in a church or doing some cheesy basement-musical for a pittance, you are at least utilizing your skills and meeting people while you bide time until your next thing. I can’t tell you how many people I have watched do nothing and keep doing nothing until they don’t know how to get started again.
The longer you wait, the harder it will be to pick yourself back up.
The skills you’ve honed in college WILL atrophy. If you don’t use them, you’ll lose them. You didn’t take out those loans for nothing. Find a way to use ‘em.
4. It’s okay to do something else. That doesn’t make you a failure. The only failure will be continuing to live a life you aren’t passionate about.
You have the option to start over. You can pick up new hobbies. You can try a new career. You can live in a different place. This is YOUR life. And chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re young and relatively obligation-less. That won’t last forever. Time is a valuable commodity. Don’t waste it.
In college, I was told I had no focus and would never succeed because I also loved running, personal training, and travel. Believe it or not, my passion for those things CAN co-exist with my calling to perform (shocker right?).
The people who said that were full of it and power-hungry. Their opinions are invalid.
That’s a liberating thing to know. Especially for those friends of mine graduating this week.
5. Progress does not precede confidence. Confidence precedes progress.
Early this fall I asked myself a really difficult question:
If I never lose weight or nail a triple pirouette or find someone who wants to be with me, am I still valuable?
How many of us go through life with some pre-conceived "to-do" list swimming in the back of our heads? A list of criteria that must be met before we can feel complete/successful/confident, or whatever the case may be?
Sometime in September I dared to let myself stop dieting with the understanding that I could gain weight or inches that could potentially affect my employment opportunities. I surrendered the self-inflicted shackles of controlled eating and decided to let my body tell me what it needed and I would stop telling it what it could have.
Confidence (and the unwavering choice to be so) preceded progress. Since September I not only feel better in my own skin and more confident in my capabilities, but I’ve seen more progress in some of my initial goals than I’d ever gained through insecurity.
Free yourself from the need to be perfect. Dare to believe that you already are.
6. People who want to be in your life will make an effort to be so. Let everyone else go.
This is hard. Because some people you love very dearly will prove they don’t return the affection. But you can only drag along dead weight for so long before it’s doing nothing but tiring you and holding you back. It’s okay to cry. But don’t let yourself be held back.
(Disclaimer: none of these ladies are dead weight. They're all goddesses and I'm so grateful for each one. This is just a great picture and I wanted to stick it in here somewhere.)
7. You’re better than you think you are. Probably.
After college, nobody outside of a university setting worships the “successful” ones as superior. If you’re taking classes, booking gigs, you’re a performer.
At the end of the day, it’s a person’s work ethic and attitude, not their talent or resume, that defines their worth.
8. Market yourself like your life depends on it. Because it does.
You know how I said “the more you work, the more you work?” Let me expand on that. Every class, gig, and show you do, you meet people. One of the best things you can do is hold on to those contacts and nurture them. Email videos of your work to casting agents. Attend productions directed by someone you met at a party. Introduce yourself to (and have conversations with) your dance teachers, voice teachers, workshop teachers.
People hire those who come to mind. So you have to make yourself someone who comes to mind.
9. Your profession does not define you
You are a person who is passionate about (and makes their living as) an actor. You are not only an actor.
Don’t confuse your profession with your identity—because that can cause dry spells to quickly become identity crises’
10. It's hard, but you are not alone—your friends are your greatest resource.
The confusion, frustration, hopelessness, euphoria, and anticipation is all so normal and we’ve all been there. If you’re graduating right now, you’re in for a wild ride. But you have a community of friends who love you and are standing with open arms, empathy, and encouragement awaiting you. We are cheering you on and we want you to succeed. Ask us how to find auditions, about certain gigs, what classes are the best… we’ve been at this for a little bit and can spare you some of the mistakes we made.
This time last year I wrote a piece comparing college to the Overture of a musical. It precedes the show and is magical, but it’s merely a shadow of what’s about to happen.
Curtain up, Bears.
Happy Graduation, Class of 2017.
P.S. After graduation, you can come home after a long rehearsal and go straight to bed. No papers or voice finals or group projects in adulthood! 8 hours of sleep for everybody!!