There was a time when I stood in a street to get my photo taken in the hopes of attracting a major Hollywood director. The corresponding headshot was full of lip curl, seductive eyes, dark hair and a forehead mole. I layered on the makeup, tried every fad diet you could imagine and bathed my self-worth in how many men hit on me at a party.
There was something in me that knew I had a lot more to give than acting. Whenever a teacher would say to me — “if you can do something else, do it”, I knew I could do many things. But I wanted the acting. I had done it since I was five years old, and even though I knew I was smart enough to do something else — acting was all I ever wanted. For twenty years.
“The time came when pity was a thorn in my side,” to quote a Brecht play.
I finally quit acting in 2008 after a year of abuse by director after director. My final play in Hollywood, I starred in a show where my character slowly starts going crazy on stage. It ran for 16 weeks to crowds of ten in the audience at most, my “method” director literally went crazy, shouted abuse at us. I had been hungry for too long, starved of any semblance of human empathy or compassion.
It just wasn’t fun anymore, and I knew somehow that I needed my soul to have fun.
I left for England for love a few months later, unknowing that I would be starting my digital media career through a blog, a book, and some luck. I’m now acting again because I can go back to it without needing that acceptance. I can act without needing it for my life-blood. I can act because it is fun again.
In Hollywood, they act like film, TV, and entertainment is life or death. They pretend and truly believe that there is nothing more important nor is there anyone more important than what they do.
I can see how Harvey Weinstein got away with it — he was willing to create the movies no one else would. As actors, we are taught that we need to go through pain for our art. We need to sacrifice for our art, we are taught. So whether or not it’s watching a fat old man masturbate because he’s going to produce the best movie of your career or it’s walking around in a bikini in a bar handing out free shots of tequila in the hopes you’ll meet someone who can further your career — we are taught it’s worth it. It’s all worth it.
But it’s not about that.
It’s about our souls. It’s about our worth. It’s about our intrinsic value and our power.
It could have been easier. It will get easier. I have to believe that. We have power — innate power that doesn’t come with beauty, hair color, how famous we are, how much we’ve done or accomplished. The value and the power that we have we are born with. That knowledge is hard to remember and equally hard to believe. We must remember that we have to let go rather than try harder to stand in our power.
Never forget that, and never give it away. I don’t like to use “never” but this is something that resonates deeply with me, and something I have to remind myself every day. I way too easily gave it away. (Still do sometimes). I look at those eyes of that 25-year-old and see all the fear, all the strength, all the confusion and all the intensity that she had. I want to protect her.
If we can remember what our values are, then we can succeed. If we remember that power, fame and that chase is all fruitless, we can continue to move past this. If we understand that human decency is the most important then we will soar.