Last summer I found myself hating my security job at the zoo - I absolutely hated it. Standing in one spot for days on end, amounting to nothing more than a babysitter for adults who should know better, proved to be a little more than my mind and legs could stand. So I quit. Around the time I quit I found myself really struggling with who I was, what I wanted in life, what I was meant to do with my life.
A friend had asked me, If you could do anything, what would you do? I couldn't come up with an answer. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but eventually my kids will grow up and fulfill their own dreams. Without them, who am I? I just didn't know, and this frustration about not knowing myself segued nicely into my own little midlife crisis.
I looked for a new job, ready to do anything, and I applied everywhere. No one would hire me. Not as a weekend cashier at Lowe's, not as a cashier at Costco, not anything at a grocery store, not as office help. Not one fucking bite. One night I sat on the front step and just cried out of frustration, hopelessness, anger, fear, just everything. I pleaded with the Universe to give me something, anything...just fucking HELP ME!
Then it hit me.
An idea so absurd and out of left field squeezed its way into my dejected soul and offered itself up to me like a Thanksgiving feast on a sterling silver platter:
I wanted to act.
Throughout my whole adult life, acting was something I always wanted to try. I recently read through the journals I've kept since I was little, and a common thread was that I would have loved to have been able to act, or to at least give it a try and see what I could do. Life simply never offered me the opportunity to give it more than a moment's thought, until that evening on the front step.
I gave it a couple days' thought, and shared my plans, however crazy they were, with the kids. and without hesitation they provided me with their unconditional support. I had no idea where to start, so I opened up my good friend Google and typed in "acting auditions Denver," which led me to a link to for open auditions for the Colorado Film School. Twice a year they hold open auditions to anyone and everyone who would be put into a pool of actors for the film students to use, and all I needed to do was sign up for an audition slot and come prepared with a monologue.
I arrived for my audition with a headshot I had taken myself, no resume, and nerves so strung up you could have played me like a cello. I stood in front of the camera, nailed my lines, and left with a feeling I had never felt in my entire life - that of complete confidence in the direction my life was to take. I gave myself a year to see what I could make of myself, and what a year it's been.
Over the next nine months I auditioned for any role I could within the student film community. I occasionally worked as an extra, I played parts I loved, I played parts I didn't love, I played very small parts and some not-so-small. The films ranged from five minutes to fifteen minutes, all of them short and sweet. I enjoyed working on such a small scale because I had so so so much to learn, and the students I was working with were learning as well which made every shoot such a great experience for everyone.
I learned that I do not like to see myself on film and that I'm extremely critical of myself, and even though I've gotten great feedback, I'll never feel as though I'm any good. I learned that rejection isn't bad and that it happens a gazillion times more often than a job offer, and that's OK. Sometimes I found myself in a better place because of the rejection, so I learned to not beat myself up too much when it happened.
I found that the entire process gives me a high like I've never felt before, from auditioning, to memorizing lines, to being in front of a camera, to doing takes over and over and over again. Every project leaves me literally buzzing with happiness. Amanda and I watched the movie Pleasantville, where basically the people start out in black and white, and when they find their passion they turn to color. One day while we were out shopping and talking about the fun I was having with acting, she looked at me and said, "Mom...you've found your color." I almost cried right then and there.
I finally found my color.
A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to audition for an agent, and was offered representation on the spot. She was pleased with the work I had on my still-little resume and was surprised I hadn't had any formal training. I suppose producing tears on cue comes more from the crap life has handed you than from acting classes, but one day when I can afford them I will be taking them. I left with the understanding that the market in Denver is sparse compared to LA, but that didn't deter me. I am happy starting slow and getting my feet wet at a pace I can handle.
Last week I worked for four days on a TV show that filmed here in Denver. It was my first real job, and it was an incredible experience. I don't want to say the name of the show, mainly because I think I suck so bad that I really don't want people I know watching me (and it won't air for a few months anyway). That's a hurdle I'll have to learn to overcome I suppose. It's a show that does murder reenactments, and I played the part of one of the victims. I absorbed as much as I could, I met great people, and I felt extremely grateful for the opportunity.
I gave myself a year to see what I could do, and it was almost a year to the date that I was offered the TV spot. Acting has been life-changing for me. It makes me so happy. Just so fucking happy. And my kids love to see me happy too. It has given me the serious boost I desperately have needed to get off my butt and get into the gym, and I've dropped 25 pounds. I eat better, I take better care of myself, I am proud of myself.
I am living a life of the most brilliant color, and it's beautiful.