The How

Sep 16, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Attitude

The What The How

I recently had the great fortune of partaking in a wonderful conversation with the wisest person I know. Among many things, we spent considerable time discussing what boils down to the proverbial ‘journey and destination.’ This got me thinking that the majority of conversations I have with my actor peers in Los Angeles are centered around the destination. We talk about getting that first co-star, getting an agent, booking a studio film. There’s a tremendous focus on the vision of where everyone is going, but I find that as a community we talk much less about the journey. Worse than that, when we—and I’m still including myself here to be clear—do discuss the journey it’s very much focused on the quickest route to the destination. I’d like to make an argument for “The How.”

I think The How matters. In fact, I think it matters a great deal. You see, there will always be another milestone. The longer I’m in LA the more I realize this. When I encounter fellow actors who have already achieved whatever goal I am working towards at any given time, they’re working towards the next one. From co-star to guest star. From lesser agent to more influential one. From series regular to your own show. It never stops. There’s always something else. On one hand that is thrilling and motivating, but it also presents a trap of perpetually chasing after the next thing.

To combat the tendency to live for the future, I think it takes more than simply enjoying the journey, or stopping to smell the proverbial roses. In order to truly succeed (or at least be actually fulfilled when success comes), I think think you have to chart your course in Hollywood in congruence with capital-y You. We must each pursue our respective careers in ways that nourish our soul and act in accordance with our values. If you think that casting director workshops are ultimately harmful to the community, then don’t do them. If you loathe sending out postcard mailers then don’t do it. If turning on a computer makes you cringe then…well, get an iPad and suck it up…and also don’t anchor your marketing strategy around twitter. These are just a few examples, but hopefully you see the bigger picture. I think it really does matter how you accomplish your goals.

If you are pursuing an acting career in Los Angles then you desire wide-spread recognition (read: fame).* But is that really all you want? Snooki if famous. So is Paris Hilton. If fame or recognition is all you desire, then there are myriad ways to achieve that goal far quicker and easier than through acting. Let me pose a question. If someone could wave a wand tomorrow and make you famous by putting you in a trashy, offensive reality show  that became insanely popular, would you do it? My guess is that most readers of this blog would not. So why is that? Why not get famous at the drop of a hat and work on parlaying that into a career in more “legit” film and television?

I hope I’m not getting too ‘woo-woo’ here, but I’ve become acutely aware recently that this city seems to be fixated with, and put undue pressure on, the end result. In the end, we may never get to the goal post for which we’re aiming. If we are living a life of passion, however, a life in which we pursue our dreams and our deepest desires with love and vigor, then we will (paradoxically) increase the odds of obtaining those results. More than that, we will not just live, but have a life.

As always, your comments are always welcomed and very much appreciated.

*If you are in Los Angeles and tell me you don’t want at least mild celebrity this then I’m sorry, but you’re either lying to yourself or in the wrong city. It’s simply too much work for this to not be true. If you “just want to act” then you would have moved to a small town in Idaho** already.

**I have nothing against Idaho. I simply chose it because it’s a sparsely populated*** state with a hard consonant that makes it a funnier-sounding state than, say, Maine. Hehe. Idaho.

***Idaho is the twelfth most populous state with roughly 1.5 million residents (source).

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.