Sometimes I find myself getting a little excited when the phone rings and it’s a number I don’t recognize. My heart starts beating fast and then I answer it to find out it’s a telemarketer selling ad space for an obscure website. Other times, when an email comes in through my business account, I get excited because maybe, just maybe, it’s a big studio or distribution company interested on buying my film, or better yet offer me a multi-picture deal. Many times, when I go to an audition, I start to fantasize, maybe this is the part that will take my career to another level. After I book THIS PART everything will be easier! Then of course I don’t book the part and all my childhood fantasies are slashed to a million little pieces.
This is what I call the BIG BREAK delusion.
I see other artists in this town doing the same thing: waiting for that magical call or part that will alter everything for the better and end the struggle. That will fulfill every desire we ever had about our career. And I’m here to tell you, waiting for that BIG BREAK is a WASTE OF TIME.
And I’m not saying people don’t get breaks or have breakthroughs in their careers. In my 10 years in Los Angeles, I’ve met 2 or 3 people that are now series regulars, or have had their films premiere at the Sundance film festival and go to have successful careers. What I’m saying is that getting a big break is not the norm… It’s the exception.
A couple of months ago I was invited to a big Latin Award Show. I was happy to go and to be invited. I have been invited for the past few years now. I got all dressed up and showed up and when I was walking the red carpet most of the press outlets wouldn’t take my picture or interview me, they wanted to talk to the real stars. Then at the after party, they had two other VIP parties going on and I wasn’t invited to either one of those, some of my colleagues were but not me. My ego was a little sore after that.
And then last month, my film was playing at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. That was a thrill for me, because that is no doubt the most important Latin film festival in the country. I thought, no doubt, a distributor or big agent is going to come and see it and fall in love with my work sign me and make me famous! Once again, when it came time to walk the red carpet for closing night, most of the media outlets didn’t want to talk to me. And I couldn’t understand it. I’m the writer-director of an award winning feature film playing in this festival…Why don’t you want to interview me?
Feeling a bit deflated, I went home and one of the people that did interview me on the red carpet wrote me a lovely email. She said that she was so inspired by what I had created and that she loved my film. That I was proof that dreams come true and that with a lot of work she knew she could make something of herself in this town, like I have done.
After reading that email I realized how stupid I have been! When I was at the award show I didn’t realize what a gift and acknowledgement of my career it was to just even be invited. When I was at the film festival, I didn’t remember that the important thing is not if someone wants to take my picture, but to know that I had a FEATURE FILM playing at the MOST PRESTIGIOUS LATINO film festival in the country! That people come to me and tell me they’re inspired by me and what I’m creating ALL THE TIME.
I’ve had a few national commercials on the air, I’ve been on TV, I’ve acted in some pretty cool films. My films have played and won many awards at lots of film festivals. I created a feature film that people love. I’m now producing the second season of a TV show for a major international network. People in the community admire me and want to work with me. But sometimes, actually A LOT of the times, I forget about this because I’m waiting for the big break to come.
That is why I believe waiting for your BIG BREAK is a waste of time, because if you don’t take time to enjoy and appreciate the small victories along the way, once and if that big break comes you won’t even notice it.
I’ve come very close over the years. I’ve been contacted by big agencies and made it really close to booking a major role. But at the end of the day what’s really taken me to where I am is a lot of hard work. All the breaks I’ve gotten along the way have come from my determination. And you know what? The career that I have built fills me with a lot of satisfaction and pride.
VIP or no VIP, red carpet or not, award or no award: at the end of the day what people are going to remember you for is the work that you put out. For the hype ALWAYS fades and what is left is the work.
I invite you to look at all the small victories and successes you’ve had along the way and be proud and grateful for them; because fulfillment lives in the journey not in the destination.