My nana still keeps my childhood headshot framed in her room. Solidarity.
I have no regrets. Sometimes I need to constantly remind myself of this, because it’s easily to slip into that terrifying moment of, “Oh shit, I’ve ruined my entire life with that one decision.” And that’s ridiculous and I know that. I need to feel good about my decisions, and if I made one I didn’t like, I have to say, “Ob la di ob la da, life goes on” and not worry about. That’s how I want to do things.
For a while though, I did have one regret. I thought about what I would do if I had the chance to do it over. I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t quit acting at six years old.
I was a fairly successful child actor. Not famous by any means. But I did some commercials that paid very well. National commercials pay very well, you’d be surprised. My big hit was a commercial for Clarion liquid makeup. No, it was not makeup for children. This was one of those artsy commercials. It was shot in black and white, in a deserted street, with a model walking down it. Then it cut to me standing against a wall. I think I was standing next to a little boy. Cut to the model. Cut to a slow close up of my face. Boom. Clarion liquid makeup.
Those few seconds of standing against a wall set me for most of my life. The shoot was very long, so long that I was late to my own birthday party. But so worth it.
I loved acting. My entire life I thought I would be an actor. I went to a lot of auditions. But apparently one day, I threw a fit, and I told my mom I had enough. I don’t remember this. I have a pretty good memory of that time. I remember I was a total dick in an audition because I wanted to play with my friend Katie and didn’t want to be there. My mom was the total opposite of a stage mom, so as soon as I told her I wanted to stop she jumped away, hands in the air, saying, “Okay! No problem, we’re done.”
I don’t know why I did that. I was a kid. Kids are stupid. Kids don’t think in the long run. I need to be easier on myself. But I was on a roll. I got cast in a sitcom starring the mom from “Home Improvement” and some famous dude. Then that show fell apart when the mom from “Home Improvement” decided to do “Home Improvement.” Bitch.
Though I stopped acting professionally, I kept doing it. I was in every high school play. I wrote my own plays in elementary school, high school, and college. I went to acting classes and casting workshops. I loved acting. But I couldn’t catch a break. “I’m born and raised here, shouldn’t it be way easier for me to get into this industry?” I always wondered. But connections fall through. I would kill it at an auditon only to be told, “We need a name, but you were great.” I got meeting with agents who said things like, “Come back to us when you’ve done more work” (how the fuck am I supposed to get more work without an agent?) and one who told me, “The bridge of your nose is very straight and narrow, I would think about that.” I thought about it and determined that she was an asshole.
One day I came to a conclusion. I could struggle to get auditions for shitty projects that two casting directors in a room would see, or I could make my own videos my own way that thousands would see. It was an easy choice. Fuck the industry. All you actors out there, I encourage you to do this your way. Keep going to auditions if you want to, but do your own thing. Use the internet to your advantage. We’re lucky to be in this era. The internet is your friend.
Every once in a while I wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t quit when I was six. Would I be a famous actor now or a has-been? Or none of the above? Things are working out for me pretty well, but every now and then I feel a pang of jealousy when I see “my type” getting roles that I could have gotten. That episode of “Mad Men” where Megan explained to Don why she had to quit her successful job to peruse her dream of acting really got to the heart of me. I understand, Megan. I understand.
What would you do-over if you could?
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I was compensated for this post as a member of Clever Girls Collective. All the opinions expressed here are my own.