Fit in or Stand Out?


I walked through the doors of Second City Hollywood, up the stairs and through the hallway where I caught a glimpse of a photo of one of my favorite all time actors Mike Meyers playing on the Second City stage. A stage that was no more than five feet away, a stage that I was going to get to play on one day. The butterflies grew. This school is steeped in comedic royalty and the power of that is not lost on me as I enter my classroom for the first time.

Being on the road last year and realizing that I didn’t want to be one of the mass amounts of people who gave up on their dream drove me to sign up for classes at this incredible school. It’s also what drove me to show up with a giant smile on my face and excitement running through every fiber of my being. What I didn’t anticipate was how awkward I would feel when I walked into my classroom and saw all the faces of those I know are like twenty years younger than me.

The reality that beginning acting is a young person’s game hit me like a ton of bricks. I have always been someone who believes that we can do anything at any age. Obviously, we might have to make physical adjustments to some things, but…that’s a different subject. So, to feel this way was new for me. I had fun that first day but didn’t feel that camaraderie I remember feeling when I had first started out in this business twenty years ago. So, noticing this, I went to my second day of class more determined than ever to overcome this feeling. My class is a group of wonderful and welcoming humans and yet, I still didn’t feel like I belonged. Not that I didn’t belong in the industry, or in the school or even in the class. I guess a better way to say it is that I didn’t feel like I could relate to them. I sat at the end of a long row of chairs trying to make conversation and then just realized I didn’t want to put my energy there anymore and so I focused on the work.

I went to a couple more classes and again, I had fun, but again, didn’t feel like I belonged.

That lead me to have a conversation with a friend the other day where I was describing what was going on. She said to me “Well, Jenna, how do you expect to feel the same way or relate in the same way when you’re not the same person you were twenty years ago?” Whoa! Head explosion. She’s right! I think I had been counting on fitting in because I still believe I have a young energy. What I’m realizing is that you can’t fit in if you want to stand out. Also, that energy is what’s going to make me good at the job of acting. My twenty years of experience is what’s going to help me get that acting job. I was discounting all this experience because I was going to “start acting again” and that “again” piece in my mind meant doing all the things I had done before to get started in the same way I had done them before.

So, I said to myself “Are you trying to fit in or stand out? What experiences do you have that you can pull from to make you stand out and how can you apply those experiences to getting the job?”

And, I’ve shifted my plan accordingly, because gosh darn it, I will pursue my dream with gusto and I’m one of the lucky ones who has insider info on how to make that gusto count 😉

What skills or experience do you have that can set you apart in pursuit of your dreams?