I’m not gonna lie, I’ve served some real douchebags in my time. Any seasoned server like myself has had experience with a variety of self-entitled morons in this bustling metropolis. I’ve served insecure women who have openly discussed the realness of my breasts. I’ve had men ask me to sit on their laps for photo-ops to send to their wives. I’ve served both men and women who think it’s ok to get my attention by hitting me. Some people are idiots. This is not news.
I’m immediately on the defense with these people, obviously, and bristle at any sort of personal question they may ask me, especially about acting. I suppose it’s pretty clear that I’m an actor-type, and the fact that I’m a walking cliche waiting tables is just bonus evidence. I usually brush off their questions with a stock comment about it being a tough business and offer them another round. I have no desire to let these people into my life, and I keep them at a distance. The walls are up.
Once in a while, though, some of my guests surprise me. They’re kind and appreciative, they’ll offer me a seat and a drink, they treat me like a new friend. They’ll compliment me in a sincere fashion by telling me that I’m doing a great job. They say thank you. They won’t ask me what my ethnicity is as a segue to talk about my body (PS: I’m not Brazilian but that would be cool). I love these people. I love working for these people. I will literally do anything to make them happy as long as they are my guests. They make my job incredibly easy and, dare I say, rewarding.
Sometimes guests like this, unbeknownst to them, help me. They’ll unintentionally say something that I need to hear, desperately, to keep pushing in my horrible and wonderful career of acting. Last night I met a cool guy who’s brother is a fairly prominent actor. His boisterous friend nudged him, “Give her some advice, she’s a nice girl.” A little embarrassed, this is what the cool guy had to say:
"Just…be persistent. It’s one of the loneliest, most brutal things you could ever want to do, but, you know, just keep going. Keep pushing, and eventually you’ll get to the place you want to be. Be persistent."
It was the word “loneliest” that got me. It is lonely. In a city of 9 million people and hundreds of thousands of fellow actors, writers, directors, and other show biz people, the struggle to create and produce and maintain a sense of individuality as an artist can be quite isolating. It’s the type of thing that most actors feel but can’t really share. It’s internal, and it’s yours.
Before I could stop myself, I admitted something to him that is very personal. “I just get so tired sometimes. Like…so tired.”
When you make the choice to pursue acting, nobody tells you about the exhaustion. Sure, they say that it’s tough and time management is key and you have to take care of your body because eight shows a week is killer, but nobody really articulates the fatigue. The consistent, pulsing ache in your muscles and your breath and your feet and your voice that you push to the very recesses of your mind because the moment you acknowledge it you’ve been defeated, you’ll collapse for sure. It’s the weariness you feel behind the chipper “Hi, I’m Megan!” in the audition room and at your tables and at a bar after a reading or a show, because you’re networking networking networking it never stops, you’ve always got to be on. It’s the 5 to 6 shifts a week on your feet, screaming over loud music, hustling for tips, literally hustling on a bad night because young suits never tip and there’s never enough money on their debit cards but they’re trying to be cool so they drink more and just don’t tip you. It’s the panic you feel when you first open your eyes and jesus it takes you 30 seconds to remember what day it is, the GODDAMN DAY OF THE WEEK and even then you’re not sure until you check your phone, which you pretty much sleep with and is the most intimate relationship you’re able to maintain at the moment. The Facebook feed of baby after baby after baby after wedding after wedding wedding after engagement after engagement after engagement and your friends’ kids SO MANY HAVE KIDS and family you never see, vacations you just don’t take. It’s the saying no to the food you’re craving because you actually have to work out to maintain your weight and whenever you binge an audition on film always seems to pop up the next day. The willpower to do cardio AND conditioning when you closed the night before and didn’t get home until 3am. It’s the exhaustion. Nobody warns you about the exhaustion.
"I just get so tired sometimes." It’s a loaded statement, what I tell this stranger. My walls are down. I’m completely vulnerable. What’s wrong with me? Why did I just say that?
He looks a me, and nods, understanding. He gets it. All of it. “I know. I know you do. But you’ve got to keep going. Just be persistent.”
Once in a while, my guests surprise me, and I am revived.
Ask Me!: NYU?
Ask Me!: CESD?
QUESTION FROM: Mimi How long does it take to hear back from CESD NYC after interviewing with them?
Well, it all depends on how the interview went and if they felt like they could work with you. Generally, they will let you know when they meet…
Ask Me!: How to avoid acting class scams?
QUESTION FROM: Andrea I really want to start acting since i am close to NY but i don’t know where to go or what to do. I don’t want to pay for those scam companies but i don’t know which one is worth it either.
I recently posted a…
AsK Me!: How do I find auditions?
QUESTION FROM: Mimi Hi I’m an 18 year old girl living in NYC and pursuing an acting career I’m also a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College. I’ve been searching nonstop online for any auditions for possible commercials, student films, short…
Ask Me! Back up and running…
The Ask Me! feature on Tumblr was acting up this past week.
Thankfully, it’s working again!
You will notice some changes, however.
In an effort to help you guys find other articles and Q&A’s the Ask Me! button will now direct you to TheNYCActor.net
All the posts/answers will continue to be published here and on Facebook and Twitter as normal. So, go ahead! Ask me anything about acting!
- Angela Dee