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Nine Months Later…

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Jessica Leigh SmithIn July 2014 I submitted a tough blog for me to write. It was difficult because of how open and honest it was about my personal struggle of how to have an acting career and still be the mommy my little girls need me to be.

When I wrote that blog post, I was still muddling through the fog in my heart of what were the correct next steps for me.

In the last nine months, the fog has lifted and I now see more clearly the journey I have ahead. Like most everyone else, I don’t know what my future holds. However, I do know how I’m going to get there. I felt as if 2014 was my Year of Questioning. I believe 2015 is my Year of Clarity and Focus.

In one month I start homeschooling my oldest, who will be in the first grade. My youngest will continue in a preschool program, but will also be with us much of the time, learning right alongside her big sister, as she is wont to do.

I have also quit fighting the side of me that longs to produce. I have multiple pages of story ideas screaming to be told and I am no longer afraid to say publicly and loudly, “I am producing a movie.”

What a scary statement for me to make—who am I to think I could take on something so monumental? But I believe I have no choice; this is where I am meant to go. And all of the steps are lining up, so who am I to refuse to walk the path so clearly marked for me?

So, how do I handle an acting career with two children, homeschooling, and producing? The answer has become, “I don’t.”

I AM NOT QUITTING! (The caps are for my agent who screamed at me to not quit when I hinted at the questions I have for myself).

However, I have realized that the best way for me to succeed in acting is to FOCUS, to focus on only a few things at a time. 2015 has so far given me clarity on my path and wisdom in choosing to focus.

My highest focus is reserved for my husband and our two daughters. In a very close second is the production of the movie. After that comes everything else.

You know how you hear all these anecdotes about the actor who had not booked anything in three years, so he decided to give up and the second he did, he got a series regular role and it now the highest paid actor in Los Angeles? You know, those types of stories? I know that would not be what would happen to me and I don’t even want to test the universe on that. I have every desire to audition and work as an actress, but I no longer have any concern for making it happen.

That right there is how I get into my actor’s funk—I have always been the girl who can make it happen. I can be in control and I can order my affairs so that the greatest possible outcome always exists for me.

But an acting career does not allow for that type of arrogance. Since I no longer have time for worrying about anything, I have given it up—no more struggling to network with the right people, no more finagling my schedule to make it to regular classes. My job is to audition and nothing else. Everything else has to go.

And that brings me to the purpose of this post: I have to say, “Goodbye…for now.”

I have been culling my list of responsibilities and have been letting go of everything that doesn’t serve my purpose of being hyper focused. I said goodbye a few months ago to my acting class.

Oh, boy, did that bring on my tears. I had been training with Lisina Stoneburner at The Company Acting Studio for four years. I grew an immense amount as an actress under her coaching. But I couldn’t continue anymore with the requirements of the class. The result I didn’t expect is that I feel a bit more empowered in myself right now.

I also let go of a few web show ideas I had for myself. They were fun, but did not ultimately serve my brand and therefore were not truly beneficial to me as an actress. So, away they went. Wow, again, how empowering it is to focus!

Just this week I said goodbye to my production baby. It was my genesis, but I had to make way for this one other project.

Journalism was my first career path, from ninth grade on. This blog and the other column I write have both been a way for me to fulfill the dreams of that 15 year old school newspaper editor. But it is yet one more thing on my list of things to do, and therefore, I have to say goodbye.

So, today is my last regular post for MsintheBiz.com. I want to thank Helenna Santos for allowing me to come on a writer, even though I’m sure she thought I was a teensy bit crazy.

I met Helenna at a callback in Atlanta. I recognized her from some marketing materials she had that had been praised by Bonnie Gillespie. I felt a little bit stalkerish going up to Helenna and telling her how I knew who she was. But she was very kind about it and a few years later, when I emailed asking if I could write for this site, she graciously said yes.

The community Helenna and the others have created is something powerful and I would like to commend them on the work they do. Thank you for being a part of my journey. And if allowed, I will gladly share the results of this new experiment for myself, maybe in another nine months.

Jessica Leigh Smith

About Jessica Leigh Smith

Jessica Leigh Smith can currently be seen running around town in her yoga pants, toting her two little girls everywhere she goes. Being a mommy has played into Jessica’s latest projects, Mommy Parodies. The first is a parody of a song from the movie Frozen, which has reached almost 40,000 views (and climbing) on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86FY-AEdizA. Jessica’s most notable acting roles are co-starring roles on One Tree Hill and Drop Dead Diva. Coincidentally, Jessica was toting her daughters in those roles as well, since she was pregnant both times. In addition to acting, Jessica has co-produced an educational series for actors, called The Dinner Project, putting actors and casting directors face to face. Episodes can be found at http://thedinnerprojectshow.com/. For more about Jessica, the actress, please visit her website, http://www.jessicaleighsmith.com/, and follow her on Twitter, @JessiLeighSmith.