The Grind

Jun 1, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Attitude, Three Actors

Howdy loyal readers! I hope you’re all having a glorious start to your summer and getting the opportunity to work on projects that feed your soul.

I haven’t been blogging here nearly to the extent I’d like, and I started wondering why that is. What I determined, is that I’m currently in “The Grind.” Get your minds out of the gutter and let me explain.

When I first moved to Los Angeles, frankly I knew nothing. Everything I was doing, learning, seeing was a new and exciting experience. I spent exorbitant amounts of time pursuing my acting career, and more than anything trying to build momentum. Well, it turns out I did just that and got to a point where even if I don’t do anything to actively move my career forward in a given week, it still will. That is, I have enough developed enough relationships that with minimal or no effort, I still get opportunities to work on projects, get auditions, get interviewed as an actor, etc. While this is a gratifying result of my hard work, there’s a danger of complacency.

At the beginning of any new business endeavor, there’s an excitement, an energy that can carry you through a lot. I experienced this when starting the company I run while in college. My business partners and I were elated at the idea of starting a new business, and every single thing we did was an altogether new and different experience. It was thrilling to learn about contracts, operating agreements, get our first clients, make our first dollar. Five years later, there’s not that much that is completely new, that sparks your curiosity and excitement in quite the same way. After the initial momentum phase, you get to the the grind. Your work becomes more like, dare I say…a j-o-b (gasps!). An acting career is a business just like any other, and I find I have the same experiences with my other business as I do as an actor.

As when I started a new business, when I arrived in L.A. everything was a new experience. I was thrilled to even discuss agents, casting director workshops, acting classes, whatever. Eventually, though, the the new car smell wears off and the real work begins. For me, I began to experience a certain lack of motivation. The daily actor tasks that move my career forward became less inherently exciting, and progress required more discipline.

What I’ve been reminding myself is that I’m in it for the long haul, which means I’m pursuing a career. I’m going to be doing this for decades, and it’s imperative to (as cliche as it sounds) enjoy the journey. As I meet more and more actors who have the career I aspire to, it’s evident that it never ends. Once you have that first TV job, you want a bigger one. Then you want to be a regular, then have your own show, then win an Emmy. Then book a big movie, then get into Cannes, then win an Oscar…the list goes on. And at every step of the way you will have issues with your agents, struggles getting in the door, difficulty putting your work in front of those you want to impress. So if you’re not enjoying the work along the way, then what’s the point?! And for me, on an off day, I take a look at how thrilling the work really is. How much I love connecting with fellow actors, reading a new script, telling a new story. If ‘going to work’ means meeting new, amazing people and collaborating with others to tell interesting, inspiring stories…well then, I’ll see you at the water cooler. 🙂

What about you? What do you do to keep yourself motivated? How do you get yourself to continue the daily grind towards your goals?

Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.