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Navigate the Entertainment Industry and Be Your Own Personal GPS

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Welcome back to Ms In The Biz and welcome to 2020! Have you written down your goals for the year? Have you already broken some of them? Either way, it’s amazing that you are surviving and thriving in the craziness of this industry.  Which brings me to what I want to talk about today: forging your own path.

Now we all know that to live a creative life, we are already being forced to build our own path, but I have been finding it more and more difficult lately to do so. I think it is partly because I am at a bit of a crossroads in my personal life, but I also think with the world expanding and becoming more connected with technology it is easy to become fatigued with too many options. Should I have reps in other markets? Should I try to do VO? Should I? Should I? Should I?

I started thinking about the difficulties of forging my own path the other day when I was driving. Of course I had Google maps on my car’s GPS system so I was able to follow this technology telling me where to go every step of the way. Object on the road, I was notified in advance. Police with a speed camera, I was well informed and going the perfect speed limit when I zipped past them. We have become so accustomed to technology telling us exactly where to go, when, and how fast. Even our watches now tell us when we should stand, drink water, go to bed. Now I am not slamming this technology at all. I am a huge nerd and for me, the more tech the better. Bring on the robots!

What I have realized, however, is that I am so accustomed to technology controlling my day-to-day that when it comes time to making my own decisions about my career I become paralyzed. Come on Siri, just tell me what to do! All jokes aside, I really have felt that this reliance on technology has bled into my creative life. Obviously Siri isn’t going to help me answer that question, so I have started to come up with a few different ways I can act as my own version of technology and create my own path.

Full disclosure, I am absolutely a type-A, slightly anxious personality so my “path forging” might be a bit more organized than you want or need, but take from it what you want! First off, I made a list in December of my 20 goals for 2020. Half of them were industry related, and half were personal and fun goals! For example, I definitely want to take a painting class next year. Additionally, I made sure that some of the goals are easily achievable by myself without any help from anyone else, and some were goals that require a bit more luck and manifesting (example, X number of days on set – SAG & PAID). I have taken that list and plastered it all over my house. It is next to my desk, in my planner, and near my dresser where I get ready every morning. If Siri isn’t going to tell me where to go, I better constantly tell myself.

I also switched up my planner use this year. My dear friend Sarah J Eagen (and fellow Ms In the Biz writer) introduced me to EVO Planners which are daily planners built around your different brain type. (If you go to Project EVO you can figure out your brain type).  I started using it at the end of 2019 and it was a huge help because it forces me to map out my day. Now it may not alert me of that cop up ahead with a speed camera, but it does show me in a visual manner where my day is going and where I have a little breathing room.

The final part of my path forging, is just to give myself a little more space to breathe. It really hit home for me this year that I am in this for the long haul, nothing is going to come to me at the speed that I want, and I have made my peace with that. That realization has given me more permission to play with my path making. If I decide to split my time between another state for awhile and try to book work in a minor market and then I don’t like it, oh well, I’ll just come back. It doesn’t mean starting over, it just means making a detour. My path is still the same: being an actor and creator. No matter what I do or where I go, that won’t ever change.

So, as you start this new year, remember that you are in charge of your own path. Yes it is scary and exhilarating, and we all have no idea what’s ahead, but we are all in this together. Gain the knowledge you can from your friends who are on similar paths, but understand that there is no formula and it is all up to us. You are unique and so your path is unique. Embrace it, and become your own GPS.

Deborah Lee Smith

About Deborah Lee Smith

Deborah Lee Smith is an award-winning actor, producer, and founder of “More Than You See”, a non profit organization dedicated to sharing stories and resources surrounding the daily struggles of mental health. Recent projects include “Here Awhile” starring Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect), and “Last Three Days” starring Robert Palmer Watkins (General Hospital). Deborah is also a regular contributing staff writer for the entertainment website “Ms. In The Biz”.