If I get asked any question about my life, this is probably one of the big ones. Well…at least from those who knew me way back when. Most people I know from my past know that for close to 20 years, acting was my life. It seems almost peculiar for anyone to just give up something that seems so important to them. Well, I’m about to tell you a little story, so I hope you’ll sit back and enjoy what I have to say.
When I first started acting, I could do no wrong. I was good and I knew it. Perhaps that let me get a little too big for my britches, making any possible rejection that much harder. Truth be told, early on, I wasn’t rejected all that much. By the time I was a teenager, it wasn’t my acting that was carrying me through. It was my singing. I’ll admit, as good as I was at acting (and at one point, I was good), I was twice as good as a singer, but I didn’t want to sing. I hated it.
I won’t get into too many details, but there was some familial pressure, especially with singing. The more I was pushed, the more I rejected my singing and turned into my acting. The more I wanted to act, the less sure of myself I became. The less confident I was, the more scared I was to get out there and audition. Eventually, it got to the point where I was nearly sabotaging myself.
By the time I had moved from Bowling Green, a school where I flourished as an actor, I had become quite introverted in many respects. I wanted people to understand me, so I spent more time explaining myself than doing anything to prove I was capable of being good at anything. The few times I reached out to others, as an actor, I felt I was being rejected, so I just turned so far into myself that I lost all sense of my abilities and what I was capable of, as a performer. I deliberately avoided auditions, for fear of rejection, my already somewhat unstable life incapable of handling yet another rejection.
In truth, I was scared. Instead of reaching out to those I knew would help me, as an artist, I hid behind the veneer of my past. I was good. I knew I was good, so I spent every waking moment telling people I was good. This gave me time to explore singing without pressure.
Nobody was forcing me to sing anymore, so I was able to enjoy myself. Where my acting had once stood out, my singing was strides above that. By the time I was comfortable with my singing voice, I was so uncomfortable as an actor, I hid in my dorm room, reading over monologues and constantly beating myself up.
I flubbed up monologues I had performed for years, and made myself look like an ass on more than one occasion. My life was spiraling out of control in every which way. I just couldn’t handle it, as I began to lose my grip on my life and my potential.
You know, getting seriously hurt and cutting out all those negative forces in your life really gives you a lot of time to think with a clear head. With the help of my girlfriend, Ashtyn, I was able to get my life straightened out. She really gave me endless support to make my own decisions and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Being laid up in bed for nearly two years is a very humbling experience, and it gave me a lot of time to think.
These are the conclusions I came to after many long, pain-filled days (I did fracture my leg and had other health problems – so I’m talking physical pain):
#1 – If anyone forces me into anything, it ruins the fun for me. I have to want to do what I want to do. Nobody can dictate my path creatively, but me. Once I really began to think about what path I wanted to travel, I truly began to understand where I wanted to go.
#2 – I like telling people what to do. I took this course at Wright State with a professor named Joe Deer. It was all about directing. It was geared towards theatre, but I loved it. For once, I really felt in my element. The idea of writing and directing my own screenplays truly appeals to me. Besides, if I really wanted to act, couldn’t I just write myself in and cast myself? Really, it’s a win-win situation.
#3 – I’m disabled, and physically society likes to claim I look disabled. I’m not sure how one can look disabled, but that’s what I am told. The path to making films as someone who physically is identifiable as disabled is very hard. At least with making films, I can always choose to cast myself in something if it doesn’t work out. I do find it difficult to go between acting and directing though (different head spaces), at the same time, so that’d be something I’d have to work on doing, but truly I have developed a real love for directing, and my passions have shifted!
While I haven’t completely given up acting, I haven’t been actively pursuing performing. I figure that acting, while I do miss it occasionally, will fall in place as I pursue what I really want to do with my life. In the meantime, I’m busy having fun as a reviewer/critic and with social media. In all truth, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan!