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X Marks the Spot

I've never seen criss-crossed contrails before. I had to take a picture. And because I'm in the habit of looking for meaning in things, I assigned a meaning to this view of the sky. X marks the spot. I took this picture while on the set of the TV show "Power".

I came back to NYC at the beginning of February 2017 after spending 6 wonderful weeks in Florida. This time of year in New York has been difficult for me in the past. My wedding business is usually in a lull in February, and before I joined SAG/AFTRA last March I wasn't doing much in TV either. But this year is different. I'm now in the union and there is a lot of work right now. Since I've been back in the city I've worked on several TV shows and one film. In fact, this is the first month ever that I've earned enough SAG/AFTRA wages to pay all of my monthly expenses. And my wedding business has been non-existent.

In March of 2013 I was getting ready to leave a 10-year career as a teacher in Japan and return to NYC to become an actor. I didn't know how I was going to support myself, where I would live, how I would empty my apartment in Japan and say goodbye to my life there. I just knew that I had to do this. I had to. If I didn't throw all my energy at this I would spend the rest of my life sitting in a puddle of regret, having let fear get the best of me.

Forward to February 2017. I'm on the set of "Elementary". The scene is a conference room and a meeting between corporate executives, city politicians and the police. The three stars of "Elementary", four guest stars, and me - the lone background actor, the only one without lines. I've been doing background work for almost a year and I know that I'm being featured. And while I don't have lines, I am interacting with the principals, take after take, hour after hour. The 2nd 2nd, whom I've worked with before, makes me feel welcomed and comfortable. The atmosphere on set between takes is light-hearted and fun. The director shakes my hand when we're done. I know a lot of background artists who don't want to be featured. Being featured means you can't do background work on that show again for a long while. I understand the impact on the wallet. But I don't want to do background forever. I want to graduate to principal work. Learning how to work with principal actors and above the line crew is essential in making that transition smoothly.

In less than four years I made a wholesale change in my life direction. From English teacher in the mountains of western Japan, who watched American TV from half a world away and longed to be a part of it somehow, to literally having a seat at the table in front of the cameras. The biggest obstacle was my fear. Fear of going broke, becoming homeless, having to ask for hand-outs. Thank goodness fear didn't stop me.

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