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Beyond the Soundstage: There is a whole wide world out there, go live in it!

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photo courtesy of foter.com

photo courtesy of foter.com

Sometimes when I look at back at my 20’s it seems to be a big blur. A blur of black box theaters, open mic nights, auditions in white rooms, endless trips to Argentum and countless unanswered calls to my agents. When I wasn’t in acting class I was rehearsing, when I wasn’t on a low-budget set I was on a soundstage trying to get my SAG card. Once I got my SAG card it was the cattle calls, the networking, the constant gym battle to lose just ten more pounds. In the past couple years things have stabilized- I got a wonderful crew job on a network show, I started getting gigs on my own merit- but the days are longer and more isolated than ever. As my friends and I hit our thirties the business looms increasingly heavily over every conversation, every interaction, every hike up Runyon or trip to the hair salon.

And to this- I say STOP! Stop and smell the roses, stop and look at a painting, stop and play in a sports league. Because a one note life not only makes for pretty boring interactions, it also makes for mediocre art. When I visit my friends in other cities I am consistently amazed at how little they discuss work. And these are not uninteresting paper pushers-they are professors and doctors, political aids and chefs, environmental planners and historians. They have a whole big life outside of what they do, and not only do they seem happier than most people I know in Lala Land, they are also much more interesting to talk too.

But Hadley, I hear you say, I’ve got to keep hustling, I can’t go paddle boarding because  I might ruin my extensions, I can’t go to the concert because I might strain my voice, I can’t watch that nature documentary because I must be submitting myself constantly on Actors Access. And I hear you.  Part of the obsessive nature of this town is that no matter how hard you work, the job you have meticulously trained for may never materialize. If you are so lucky that it does in some shape or form, the flash point is brief, and then the constant battle to maintain or advance begins. But I ask you- what does a writer who lives in front of her computer, or an actress who only kisses someone on stage, really have to contribute to her craft? What new things does she have to say? Everything becomes another teen movie, all is redundant, everyone is a cookie-cutter of the same.

We live in a fascinating town, filled with so many different cultures and museums and outdoor activities it’s almost mind boggling. Many of these places are free, and lots of them have absolutely nothing directly to do with the business. There is a reason many smart companies encourage vacations. Inspiration comes when your heart is open and your mind is free, not when you are straining and striving to beat the pack. I encourage you to do one thing a week that has nothing to do with your career, that puts you totally out of your comfort zone. And every month I will try and help you (and me) along by featuring different places, topics and activities to explore in the Los Angeles area.

Until next month, take time to relax and explore the world—the business will be there when you get back, I promise!

 

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About Hadley Meares

After finishing college in her native South, Hadley traveled cross country, got chased by a man with a gun, and settled in Los Angeles. Her fiction has been published in the Santa Monica Review and the Southern Indiana Review and her she writes for several online publications, including KCET’s Departures. As a pretty cool day job she is currently the lovely Amy Poehler’s stand-in on the show Parks and Recreation. She is also a frequent featured performer at the legendary Dresden (fulfilling her long held wish to be a lounge singer).