The Pledge (or how to get out of your own way and start kicking ASS)


Madeline Merritt.jpgTHE PLEDGE

My year long process of BE-ING the change I wish to see in the world. Starting TODAY.

Month One: Acceptance, the tool to liberation!

(Or how to get out of your own way and start kicking ASS)


One of the hardest things to do in life is to get out of your own way. You:

a) Have big dreams, but don’t have a manageable check list.

b) Want to accomplish big things, but don’t know where to start.

c) Want to expand creatively by developing a new skill, but are afraid of being a beginner.

d) Sit at home feeling paralyzed because of your massive to-do list.

e) Hate yourself for not living up to your potential, and by the way your peers also wonder the same thing. Or in your own head they do…

And this cycle of self-loathing COULD continue on indefinitely…

But it won’t. Not anymore. Not after today. Today, you have decided to begin the process of changing your life, upping your creativity and working towards goals that will fulfill you. That is because today, you are embracing who you are in the present and where you would like to be in the future, and beginning the process with a great big liberating halleluiah of ACCEPTANCE.


A lot of us have dreams and goals that are massive: they seem un-doable in their current ginormous state, so we stare at them wasting time, and not getting any closer to fulfilling our potential, or our skillsets. Let’s say we do need new skills to get the job done, well it’s hard to mobilize to learn the skills we need to achieve our dreams when we are sitting in a place of doubt and inertia.

Are you one of these people? Well, I am.

Let me tell you about my dreams in this biz: I am passionate about story-telling. I am in this industry because I love to tell stories that entertain, inspire, and bring new perspectives to people from different backgrounds to facilitate understanding and compassion. Thus far on the plinko board we call Hollywood, I have pursued this endeavor through acting, thinking that if I had a platform I could make a difference. I am tired of this old model: I want to be a creator, not just someone that communicates other people’s ideas. I love acting and I want to up my game career wise while also pursuing my own creative endeavors and collaborations.

The lack of material for strong young women like myself can be quite disheartening. For a reality check on the state of affairs for women in this industry, please see exhibit a . For this reason, and many others including the way women who are on-screen are portrayed (more on this to come in future blog musings) I dream of a day where I am not just in front of the camera but writing, producing and even directing my own projects.

The problem is: I am stuck. I am in my own way and that is frustrating as hell. As much as I want to step up as a leader and organizer, someone that gets projects off the ground, I am still in that place where I am a do-er in that second tier sense. While I can commit and contribute to projects, and some of my ongoing relationships are manifesting themselves in new opportunities, I am not at the helm of my own biz destiny.

Like many of you, I am trying to improve myself, my strategy, my opportunities and my performances, all the while juggling a job that keeps a roof over my head, a smart phone, and enough funds to attend necessary networking events, workshops and acting classes. Whew.

While I don’t feel I’ve lead the most organized career in the world, after nearly four years in Los Angeles, I feel I am really getting somewhere, and so it is time to step up my game. NOW.

Here is my 4 part plan to getting out of my own way, starting TODAY! (And you can do this too!)

1.     Acknowledge where I have room to grow. Let go of the shame and admit it!

I have a list of Industry “duhs” and “dreams” that I haven’t been keeping up with. They are my blocks. You probably have some too. Here is a sampling of a few of my unfulfilled duhs and dreams.

-My own website has been sitting like a blob on my to-do list since 2008? Need I remind myself that I have built websites for other people and not myself. Say WHAT?!?

– An ongoing newsletter to my contacts to stay connected and updated. You have to remind people you exist and that you are doing cool things!

-A press kit. Red Carpets. Allotted monthly Networking Time.

-That acting/improve/dance class I really have wanted to take all year.

-Targeted Acting Workshops and Theatrical Agency Search. I want and I NEED Television Credits.

-Short and Long Term Goals to step up in the ways that I want to in this industry. 1 month, 1 year, and 5 year goals.

– Finding a mentor or co-mentor that I can learn from and stay accountable to.

-Collaborating with the awesome people I know in this industry (especially women) to make a whole lot of innovative, important, fun and funny work together.

-Finally writing that amazing screen-play. Then actually sharing it with people and promoting it.


2.     Honor the things I have done right so far. (You do this too! Write down all the awesome things you HAVE achieved)

-I have become a better actor. Whether through hard work at acting classes, or by just living and getting to know myself better, I am more confident in my ability than I ever have been. I still want to improve, always, my craft, but I am confident in my ability in front of the camera.

-I have booked 5 feature films and am a lead in AMERICAN IDIOTS, soon to be released by Lionsgate on DVD with a World Premiere on May 31st at the Dances with Films Festival at the Chinese Theatre.  One of my dreams to premiere there checked off the bucket list!

-I have a manager who believes in my talent and vision.

-I have people who think of me and call me up and cast me.

-I just signed with a new commercial agent and am updating my look and photos as we speak.

-I am much better at social networking than I was a year ago and my IMDB ranking can prove it.


3.     PLEDGE to Abandon Bad Habits (one, or two) for a set period of time (30 days)

I am a procrastinator. The bad habits I developed in college (which included lots of cramming in the library around finals week and pulling off excellent grades) don’t work as well in a life that doesn’t often give you deadlines or finals. This industry is a Marathon, or as Ms. In The Biz’s founder Helenna Santos-Levy says it feel like, “going up the down escalator” aka)

“Pursuing a career in entertainment is like going up a down moving escalator… The minute you stop steadily walking to the top, you will glide right down to the bottom. So the key is to just keep moving upwards even though you are being pulled down, and you’ll eventually get to the top.”

Procrastination has been my drug of choice, and I’m ready to set my goal, starting today, to eliminate two things from my life for the next 30 days.


*Watch mindless television or films. I will only watch Game of Thrones and Mad Men each week, and no other television unless it is for an audition. My only film-viewing will be in the company of others for social/networking reasons.

*Surf Facebook and other Internet Black Holes. I will keep hold of my own social networks, but no surfing the feed looking for a quick escape from reality. I will keep my internet searches to Industry Related curiosity and stay away from cute cats or dreadful headlines.


4.     Make short term goals for the month to fill up this new free time

Make reasonable, doable goals and see how many you can check off in that month, with all your new free time.


*Finish My Reel, My Website and My Newsletter.

*Sign up for that class.

*Increase my industry Curiosity and Knowledge.

*Get new photographs and make my year-long to-do list.

*Create a Plan of Action for targeted workshop attendance once casting season starts back up again.

Photo 2I am ready, I have goals in sight, and I am taking a pledge to let go of some of my bad habits so I can move forward professionally and artistically, because I have found ACCEPTANCE with where I am at, and where I want to go.

NOW what can you accomplish in the next 30 days if you TAKE THE PLEDGE???

Once you accept where you are in the present, it frees you to remove those stuck blocks and achieve the dreams in your heart.

Happy Accepting!

And I will see you in 30 days with more lessons in personal growth in this biz!