The Reinvention Tour, that is what I jokingly called a weekly meeting my friend and I used to have regarding our acting careers. Why? Because we had both gotten to a point where we felt we needed a shift, a reexamination of things and it was easier to do it together and make each other accountable to one another. This is how it started. I realized one day that everything about my career felt dusty. The acting books I had (although gems) were old, the notes I had written in them looked old, my résumé looked old, my headshots looked…well you get the point. So I decided it was time for a reinvention tour. The tour I was going to take through my own life and bring things up to date. I asked a friend of mine if she wanted to meet once a week and discuss where we were at and what we felt needed to be changed and then set a goal that had to be accomplished by the following week. We had to hold each other accountable.
So we began. With two brand new notebooks in hand, we started to write down how we felt and what we needed to change. One by one, we started to check them off of our list. Here’s why it worked. The most important thing we agreed on was to start out small. By this point in our lives, our careers in Los Angeles had worn us out. It’s not just about the acting, it’s about survival of the city, survival of how now we weren’t just twenty somethings only having careers to focus on. We were grown ups and we had to think about life and relationships and family and retirement and health care and dental care and bills and on and on and on. So by the end of the day, it is easy to forget or not feel like reediting your reel.
I think the first thing I wrote down was to update my résumé. This probably took twenty minutes but we would only write one goal and that’s all we had to be accountable for, anything else was gravy. The idea again was not to start off overwhelmed.
My overall goal was to reinvent who I really was as an actor. When I first started out this was the journey: Get pictures and résumé (no reel needed), get into the acting unions, and get an agent. That was the core of your job, and then be prepared for all auditions, find a flexible job, do theatre, get training and submit yourself through the trades. There was a little more here and there, but that was basically it. Your job was to act. But suddenly many a year later…holy moly. Now we’re in the computer age, so create your own web series, get on every legitimate casting site, submit yourself all day and night long, have a web site, showcase, get in a theatre company, do improv till your head falls off, blah blah blah. Now you aren’t just an actor, you are the actor, the agent, and the writer, the producer the creator the casting director, wardrobe, makeup etc. I used to spend days working on the inner thoughts of a monologue from Shakespeare, that was my job, that was what was in my mind space. Well those days are gone and the new regime demands a lot more than I was prepared for.
So after a few years of realizing I was going to be left behind with my dusty old books, I began to go forward one small goal at a time. The point being is there are fifty-two weeks in a year. Fifty-two goals is a lot and that’s fifty-two changes that you’re making in one year. Of course knowing full well once you get the ball rolling it always picks up speed.
The Reinvention Tour worked. I felt like I rebooted who I was as an actor and it became easier for me to focus my goals in all the right directions. It really helps if you have a friend to work with, just one friend to sit down with and discuss the importance of the next step and to hold you to it.
I will also say a good starting point is taking a marketing class geared toward actors. One that helps you to really understand who and what you are in the world today; it’s a good starting point. It wasn’t that I couldn’t let go of who I was, it was that I didn’t understand who I had become, it kind of sneaks up on you. Bonnie Gillespie’s class “Self Management for Actors”, was a game changer for me and a huge help in letting me find my way to my new self, update everything, and start my acting life from there. So as my mother used to say, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again!”