2016 was a breakthrough year for me. It changed a fundamental belief I had about myself, about the acting business and about the world. Maybe this will resonate with other people too.
When I was growing up, my parents impressed two distinct thoughts into my subconscious: (1) I was very talented when it came to acting, and (2) acting was the surest way to the poor house. It sounds a little strange that parents would give two conflicting beliefs to a child, but hey, they were doing their best. They had us quite young and were not really adults themselves at the time.
So I grew up thinking and believing that I was very talented at this hobby called acting, and that it would always remain just a hobby because I had to get a job, make money, join the rat race, live a life of quiet desperation, etc. And I did that. And I was good at it. After college I was hired at a large corporation in NYC and climbed the ladder for 13 years. Then I switched careers and became an educator for 10 years.
Then Saturn entered my 1st house for 2.5 years and said 'hey buddy, who are you really?'
I couldn't ignore the fact that I was the only second grader, and youngest student, to be cast as a munchkin in the school play. Or that I was bumped up to the lead in Great Expectations when the leading actor dropped out. Or that I won a scholarship to apprentice at Williamstown. Or any of the other sign posts along the way that had always been pushing me into the light.
So I left the relative 'security' of my teaching career and returned to the USA to begin working in television as an actor. That was a big decision for me. The scariest thing I had ever done. And the pieces just seemed to fall into place. Once I made that big, scary decision, it was like the universe said 'well done. Now we'll give you a hand.' In a few short months my new life was up and running. I was in class in NYC, I was working in television, I was starting my own business, making new friends. Then came 2016.
In 2016, for the first time in my life, I earned more money in SAG wages than from any other source. This was the breakthrough. For my whole life I had believed, courtesy of mom and dad, that acting was the fast track to poverty. And yet, I had just earned more from acting than from anything else. False belief gone.
The truth is, if you find the courage to pursue what you want to do, and stand up to your fear, and keep going even when others would give up, when your family tells you to give up, then you will most likely reach a day when you have a similar breakthrough. And then your beliefs change. And then good things start rolling in.
I bet a lot of other actors have had similar upbringings. Your families may have encouraged you early on, telling you how talented you are and applauding loudly at your recitals and plays. But as you got older they mysteriously expected you to abandon everything that had built your self-esteem and accept an ordinary life. They weren't being malicious. They were trying to protect you by shoving you down the path that was well-worn by generations before you. Their intent was good. But what better way is there to put a smile on their faces than by showing them how happy and successful you are in pursuit of your dreams. It's also good for an 'I told you so.'