The Pursuit of Security

“How do I go about following my dreams and making money? I’d be struggling like the rest of them! Entrepreneurs, actors, artists-they’re broke, they’re all broke and struggling!”

That’s the common argument I hear about the journey of following your passion. I’m struggling, it’s true, but it’s not always a struggle. My struggle is more because of the path that I chose-more about the way I wanted to achieve a certain result than just achieving that result- and other choices I made.  But I think you can’t afford not to in this day and time.

The other one I hear is that I’ve got kids and a family. Fair enough. But you’ve still got some time. Those other 8 hours make all the difference.

I like how Carlos Miceli put it : job security is not a goal to strive for. If anything, it’s an old mind- state. But it’s not only the search for job security, I see this search for security in other areas of life as well: relationships, health, education, etc.

I use to strive for it as well, only to be hit on the head too many times by random events that beat these realizations into my head.

Hell, we as Americans love security so much that we’ve practically given away most of our freedoms for it.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.-Ben Franklin

I just had a talk about it with my sister the other day. She was telling me how she wants a peaceful relationship. She wants a relationship where she won’t have to be arguing and if there is an argument, then it’ll be over soon, and if it isn’t over soon, then they’ll have to go their separate ways.  She then went on to tell me why. Because our upbringing was so harsh, tough and filled with drama, which is pretty much everyone’s story.

So I pray everyday more than anything

friends we’ll stay as we begin to lay
this foundation for a family – love ain’t simple
Why can’t it be anything worth having you work at annually.     Common-The Light

I like that last line. It applies to pretty much everything. The work never ends. You don’t reach a state of health that you never have to keep up, or a state where you’ll never have to learn anything again.

I think that by being human, or anything consisting energy for that matter, has this intrinsic desire to express itself, to just be used and manifest its potential.

Acceptance

The thing is, there is always going to be work to do. Embrace it, accept it. That should be an even bigger imperative for you to do what you love.

Look, Jay-z, arguably one of the biggest artists in the world can’t even rest! After coming back from his semi-retirement to release his Kingdom Come album, he was more introspective, feeling he wanted to rap on a different note about different subjects that fans weren’t used to hearing from Jay-z. As a result, well, fans were beginning to doubt the man’s skill.

Ya’ll niggas got me really confused out there
I make “Big Pimpin” or “Give It 2 Me”, one of those…
Ya’ll hail me as the greatest writer of the 21st Century
I make some thought-provoking shit
Ya’ll question whether he falling off…   “Ignorant Shit”-Jay-z

My San Soo instructor, even at 71- or is he 72- is still up and training everyday! He has the respect of his peers and countless others, hasn’t been attacked, he’s confident in his abilities and makes enough money, but he’s still training!

So why not keep growing? Why do we seek to stop growing, to stop learning, adapting?

Internal vs. External

Steve Pavlina also brought up some great points on security. He brings up this critical difference in the way people view security

The reason isn’t that some people need security more than others. I think everyone needs to feel secure. The difference, however, is that the entrepreneurial-minded define security internally while others define security externally….the entrepreneurial action-takers define security internally. Security comes from trusting in yourself — in your ability to think and to take action. As long as you have the ability to think and take action, you’re secure. Given this mindset you could be homeless and still feel secure. Why? Because you still have the ability to think and act — your homelessness is only a temporary setback. It’s not a threat to your security. So even while you may be in a financially unstable situation, external circumstances don’t threaten your security. Your security is guaranteed. It cannot be turned off by external events….

Given this mindset, you can always have security. It’s just more of an internal state of being. I think Stephen Covey called it being “principle-centered.”

Want to be emotionally secure? Love yourself. Be at peace with yourself by coming up with your own standards, morals and expectations and living by them

Want to be mentally secure? Grow, learn, all the time. Be aware, adapt, observe.

Extra Work and Gigs

Thank God for gigs!!

How else do we keep money in our pockets? We’re steadily working for free to earn credits, build experience or just for the fun of it, it’s nice to get paid sometime!

I just recently did an industrial shoot at Knott’s, for some company that sells ball-barrings for roller-coasters. It was pretty fun, all we had to do was ride Boomerang around 7 times or more so they could get the perfect shot. They served us breakfast-a pretty good one at that-lunch, and if we wanted a full free day at the park. I didn’t stay because I had already spent too much time there waiting for them to install the camera on the roller coaster and do whatever else they were doing.

Be Productive

When it comes to doing extra work, whether it be a feature film, student film, play or whatever, ALWAYS bring something to do so you don’t be bored out of your mind. A book, your i-pod, a play, crossword puzzle, sudoku, etc.

Oh! Bring your own food too! Or else-if you happen to be a vegetarian like me- you’ll be stuck with the Standard American Diet.

Networking

Did I mention it’s a great time to network?! You’re surrounded by people who have the same interests and may have some of the same goals as you.

Every one of the extras I meet has  had story. How they found out about the project we’re working on-different sources, websites and contacts all the time.

You share something, they share something, you both learn something new, and possibly make a new acquaintance on your journey.

In the future I’ll include a section with some links that give a lot of extra work, castings and all that good stuff.

Update

As it stands right now, I’m your typical starving actor. I mean, I’m not starving literally, I’ve been living off of sandwiches, pasta and enchiladas and other cheap vegetarian food, so I’m good.

I’ve decided that for the greater part of next year, my primary focus will be on my finances and my career will take a step down to the secondary slot. My plan is to work an additional part-time job and to pour all of that income into a savings account. All that money will then be used to take more classes the following year.

In addition, I plan to launch a Site-Build-It website with the same focus- the journey of an aspiring actor- come January. If everything works out, I should have my passive income stream in place by the end of the year. As an aspiring actor, I can’t think of a better way to support our career path. It should get rid of all the juggling jobs and stress that we have to deal with.

To this day, I have been posting on this site periodically without any type of schedule. Until I get my laptop fixed, which I plan to do in the upcoming weeks, my internet time is pretty much limited to the libraries hours or whenever I can get my hands on a friend’s laptop. Once that is done, I will posting more regularly and reaching out to connect and build more relationships with you people. Chow.

Sharpen Your Acting: The Habits of an Actor

I made the jump earlier this year to follow my passion of acting head on. I had no idea what I was going to do or how I was to go about doing it, I just started moving. I eventually started researching the best schools in my area and came upon Stella Adler Los Angeles.

I made the move and got enrolled. The class was great. The only thing was, I only had enough money for one class.

Use Your Time Wisely

I came upon my first setback. I planned to only take one quarter off and find a better paying job (or an additional one) to help me pay for the rest of the classes I planned on taking. The job that I thought I had lined up didn’t come through like I had hoped and I felt stuck. I knew I had to do something to keep my skills sharp while outside of school. So I emailed my teacher and told him about my current situation. He then sent me a list of creative habits and books to read while I was away.

Why Doesn’t an Actor Act?

We pay all that money for training and acting school, and after we feel confident enough we go searching for work.Alan Nusbaum asked on his blog, “if a painter paints, how come an actor does not act?”It’s a great question because as actors sometimes we tend to forget all about the theater and student films and go straight to Hollywood for the paid gigs.

Here is the list of creative habits my teacher gave me to keep my craft sharp

1. Work time- find yourself a time to work that you protect. Know when you work best and take advantage of that time. Structure your day around that fact.

2. Pianists/ Musicians- They always accept the fact that for them to be better they must do their scale work . They must practice. Dancers are the same way. What are the scales for an actor?

  • Practice Script breakdown- get a play and break it down into its beats, units, etc.  See how fully you understand it. What is the plot? What’s the theme? Setting? Idea?
  • Practice cold reading- If you plan on becoming an actor, this skill is an important part of the audition. Grab a monologue and practice.
  • Poetry- My teacher had us doing poems. He would have us see the images before we would speak. I learned that in order to move an audience with the poem, I had to be moved myself. If it meant nothing to me, it wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else. So it forced me to start taking time to connect with things in real life. Just to be present and allow myself to become affected by things I come across. Different images and what not. Poetry is a deep form of self-expression and can better you as an actor.
  • Shakespeare-need I say more?
  • Reading history, philosophy, literature, political theory, religious texts, psychology, and studying other cultures. Acting is all about connecting with the text and bringing the life behind that text to life. What better to study than life and people itself. Not only your own but that of others as well.
  • Visiting art galleries and museums. Museums carry things of significance. Things relative to points in time, a peoples’ history and items pertaining to a their culture. Art has a way of carrying a peoples’ culture and history. It can represent their times  and evoke feelings.
  • Observation/ People watching. It’s the heart of our work and all art. Learn to see, putting yourself into the shoes of others.
  • Writing-anything. Journal, poetry, plays, screenplays, film. Get to know yourself.
  • Anything that can give you focus
  • Watching great work of both theater and film. Learn from your fellow actors

3. Take care of your body and voice- practice physical work and voice work everyday. Our body is our instrument.

4. Doing theater- It’s our place.

In addition, he gave me these words of advice:

Acting is a lifetime committment to learning

Discover what moves you, what do you want to fight for or express

If you are not learning you are standing still

Set goals for the parts you want to play

Lessons From Eminem

I think Eminem’s achievements speak for themselves and it’s safe to say that he’s one of the greatest rappers to ever do it. When it comes to his craft, I don’t know too many that can match him. So what are the keys to his success?

Habits

I write a rhyme a day

So it’s no wonder your whole album

Is sounding like a whole bunch of shit that I would say

Eminem, still to this day, is ALWAYS writing (so I’ve heard). He doesn’t stop. Back in the days he and Proof would go back and forth just kicking rhymes to each other. Not too many rappers do this. Heck, some brag about not even writing AT ALL anymore, which is not always a good thing (ahem-Young Jeezy)!

They say it takes around 10,000 hours to master something. I’m sure Eminem is near his 10,000th hour, if not past it. Whatever your craft, there’s probably a core habit that it’s established around. How often do you practice it?

Perseverance

If you’re a hip hop head and you’ve spent enough time on YouTube, you’ve probably come across Eminem’s early battles. Yeah he did pretty great at the one of the rap olympics but did you see the others? Em vs. Juice, Em vs. Rhymefest, and I don’t know all the others. Em came up in hip hop the old-fashioned way: through battling. In battling you don’t always win, even if you come in with some prepared lines. Add in the fact that he was white and almost EVERY mc would use that against him. But he made it through. He battled time and time again, regardless of losses, regardless of the all the disrespect that came at the time for being a white rapper in the game after Vanilla Ice fucked it up for almost everyone after him. He kept pushing all the way to his last battle where he got disqualified for a curse. That was the moment where he was spotted by Dr. Dre.

Authenticity

Remember Em’s Infinite cd? No? Maybe? This was his first cd, before The Slim Shady LP. The one you’ve either gotta get from Amazon, Ebay or by downloading, unless you were lucky enough to get one of the originals that he pressed up. A lot of people aren’t too familiar with it. When he talks about it he says

“Obviously, I was young and influenced by other artists, and I got a lot of feedback saying that I sounded like Nas and AZ. ‘Infinite’ was me trying to figure out how I wanted my rap style to be, how I wanted to sound on the mic and present myself. It was a growing stage. I felt like ‘Infinite’ was like a demo that just got pressed up.”

It sounds nothing at all like the Eminem you hear today. In fact, his rhyme style and patterns sound a lot like that of AZ. After Infinite he had The Slim Shady Ep-which you may have never heard either- on which he sounded a bit like Jay-z. It sold even more poorly than his prior cd. Eminem didn’t blow until he released The Slim Shady Lp, on which he sounds like himself.

‘Weaknesses’ Into Strengths

Have you heard his dis track towards Mariah Carey, titled “The Warning?” Not only does he go all out on Mariah but he puts all his dirt out there as well

Listen, girly. Surely you don’t want me to talk about how I nutted early ’cause I ejaculated prematurely and bus all over your belly, and you almost started hurling and said I was gross, go get a towel you’re stomachs curling, or maybe you do?
But if i’m embarrassing me, i’m embarrassing you and don’t you dare say it isn’t true

The Warning-Eminem

Most of Eminem’s dirt is out there. When it’s time to battle him, you’ll either have to be mad creative or use some dumb mess that’s been said before that everyone already knows. I’ve seen him do this time and time again. You can see it in his 8-mile film on the last battle of his. During the battle even before Papa Doc  has a chance to diss Eminem in regards to his race, economic background, his childhood, him getting beat up or anything that would be seen as a negative in the hip hop culture, Eminem pulls his skeletons out the closet with  a smile on his face.

When it’s time for battle, Eminem has his perceived weaknesses exposed. He wears them with pride and they become part of his armor.

We talk a lot about weaknesses, but like problems, perhaps they’re really blessings in disguise. Like Kanye said, “All that I’m not makes me all that I am.”

Discipline

Eminem had once stated that he would stay up nights to read the dictionary in order to expand his vocabulary.

Who wants to read the dictionary?!

There are parts of every job that we don’t like as much as others, but you’ve got to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and strong-will your way through those tasks.

The Value of Entertainment

What value do you provide?

What do you contribute to people? To the world?

What difference do you make?

These are the questions I run into as an actor. From others as well as from myself. With issues like world hunger, poverty, crime and global warming going on in the world, sometimes people find it hard to understand what I do for the cause as an actor, or for the world in general. Well, what does anyone do? I don’t act like it’s not there, but I don’t overly concern myself with issues on a great scale as that. I choose to focus on the moves I can make that contribute to the cause, and at the same time live my life and have fun.

I like to think of a career as a medium and a message like this. My message is simply to never stop growing, never stop learning, stay true to yourself and have fun. I strive to express this every minute of my life, through my actions, this blog, and through acting. I find striving to become a professional working actor very challenging. My growth as an actor runs parallel to my growth as an individual. It pushes me to work hard, build courage, discipline, and a whole lot of other qualities I find important. As a child, I was told that I shouldn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t become an actor. It almost stopped me for a while. It’s been my dream since childhood so for me to deny that to myself  be untrue to my desires. I wouldn’t be true to myself or how I feel my life should be lived.

Value

What is value? I think value is highly subjective and always fluctuating, it’s not too stable or objective.  A bottle of water usually sells for around $1 around where I live in Riverside, CA. I went to a concert and found someone finding those same bottles of water for around $7. Normally, I would never think of buying water for around that price, but at that moment, it was of high value to me. The circumstances justified the price of water: I was drenched in sweat down to my socks, it was humid, and nobody was willing to share anything but weed and cigarettes. Answer.com defines value as

  • Monetary or material worth: the fluctuating value of gold and silver.
  • Worth in usefulness or importance to the possessor; utility or merit: the value of an education.
  • A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable.
  • What Value do you provide?

    An actor is at most a poet and at least an entertainer-Marlon Brando

    I think this quote pretty much hits the nail on the head. At the least, an actor should provide entertainment and be entertaining. Does society NEED entertainment? I say no. In this new day and age, we have a lot of leisure and conveniences that make our experience of living more comfortable and convenient  but all we really need to live are our basics: food, clothing and shelter. But value isn’t solely based on needs and people usually have  a hard time distinguishing their needs from things that they would like to have or experience. Steve Pavlina states, “The simple answer is that you know you’re creating value when you can see tangible positive changes in the world as a result of your creative output.  So what tangible positive changes in the world does an actor create? At the least, an actor can inspire self-actualization and creativity. Just by an actor acting or a basketball player shooting hoops and making a living, I think it stands as a testimony that you can truly earn a living from your passion.

    What difference do you make?

    You can make a difference anytime in a day. However, since a career takes up a majority of your time, I think it stands that you should try to make a difference through your career. An actor is part of an ensemble. Usually, the director has a large amount of control, but the actor is responsible for his own choices. Like corporations with mission statements, movies have an objective most of the time. It may be simply to entertain or to inspire, to inform, to move the audience and etc. As an actor, I think it’s important to make sure you know the motives or objective of projects that you may be working on and make sure that it resonates with your values.

    You can stimulate change directly or indirectly. I remember reading Denzel Washington talk about how a man came up to him and told him how his role in Man on Fire helped him to stop smoking. He helped. Keyword: helped. Change usually happens gradually. I don’t know too many individuals that have up and created change primarily by themselves. The thing is, you never know how you’ll affect someone, for better or for worst, so it’s best to be conscious on what type of energy, message or image you’re putting out there or getting yourself involved with.

    What do you contribute to people? To the world?

    As I’ve stated previously, the least that entertainment contributes to society is entertainment. Entertainment might make you laugh, might ease the pain of whatever you’re going through. A film like Patch Adams showed me the healing power of laughter. Not everyone is stuck on their basic needs. When our basic needs are provided for, we begin to think on a higher level and experience greater joy in life. We begin to question life, innovate, seek greater understanding, creatively express ourselves and expand our potential. At the same time, entertainers have the money to donate to large causes and sometimes, even the time and energy to go along with it.But there is no limit to the impact arts and entertainment can have on an individual or a people. I’ve learned a great deal from Eminem (which is a whole ‘nother post in itself). Most lessons I’ve gotten from him have been by observation. Through music, I’ve learned a lot as well and at the very least, it’s been the catalyst for a lot of the things I learned. Look at Michael Jackson, he didn’t really affect me, but it appears he’s touched a whole lot of lives, influenced careers and made music that much better for some people.

    The Path

    I’m sure you’ve heard this quote before

    Keep your eyes on the prize

    You might have heard that quote a number of times, or you might have heard this one by Russell Simmons from his book Do You

    “I know some people say “Keep your eyes on the prize,” but I disagree. When your eyes are stuck on the prize, you’re going to keep stumbling and crashing into things. If you really want to get ahead, you’ve got to keep your eyes focused on the path.”

    Effort

    I think the wisdom behind both of these viewpoints is simply to have a vision of where you want to end up, but keep your mind focused on the now. To know your goals, and keep them in front of you. As Stephen Covey said, “keep the end in mind.” But remember, we only have power in the present, in fact, it’s all we ever have. If you don’t have a destination in mind you may end up wherever the current of life takes you. You are the architect of your life, but you only build that life by focusing on your present actions.

    Don’t try to build a wall. Just lay a brick. But lay that brick as perfectly as you can and continue to put in that same effort day after day. -Will Smith