On September 22nd last year, I went out for a drive alone to get away from the mess that was my family’s domestic feud. During that drive, I contemplated many of my life’s decisions, reflecting on what I gained from them and how things might have been different had my decisions altered. I stopped at a breakfast café, although unfortunately I missed breakfast. Nonetheless, I had a coffee and was greeted shortly thereafter by an older gentleman; we’ll call him Suzuki. Initially, I made the mistake of making a presupposed judgment about Suzuki in that he was some type of pedophile. This is because my attire that day was slightly seductive. Suzuki proved me to be very wrong, however, as he began discussing his brother’s involvement with a federal crime. Despite the convolutions of our discussion, we got back around to the cliché “what are you doing with your life” dialogue, which was long overdue at that point. Suzuki had some artistic aspirations, much like myself in fact. He explained that a friend of his was enrolled in a background acting program – a surefire way to get your foot in the door of acting. I retorted by acknowledging my interest in the field of acting (some of my early blogs reflect that, in fact). He suggested I look into some type of agency for background actors to “get my foot in the door” (since the rest of my body is hardly relevant). By the end of our conversation, I felt better about having gone out for a drive.
Just two weeks ago, I returned from a trip to a talent agency in New York City, where I attended an agency orientation and was thereafter enrolled into a background acting program. For nearly a year I had been actively looking into enrolling into an agency, and now I finally was able to finance it and make it happen. Before I tell you the story leading up to this, however, let me explain what this entails. The talent agency I registered in is for background actors, meaning that they don’t cast roles, per se, but rather extras in film and TV. Despite the fact that my roles will therefore be limited, they will nonetheless be present and that is the first step. The way it works is that there is a hotline provided to me that I can call on a daily basis. That hotline will tell me what is filming in the area (so for me, Orlando/Miami); if I’m interested in one of the options then I call that film’s number. The director will look me up in the system, and if he likes what he sees then he’ll give me the time and place of which to show up, along with what I need to bring and how I need to dress it. That’s it! Then what follows is a 14-hour day of filming, fun, and finance! My paycheck for the film would come the Thursday following the shoot.
At the end of this month, I’m flying to Atlanta to transfer my credentials to the agency’s second office, which is much more accessible to me than New York. But in this blog, I don’t want to reflect on these newfound ambitions. Rather, I want to discuss a change in mindset that I’ve had since I last blogged in May. When you last heard of me, I was at a point in which I was allowing my past to greatly impact my everyday life; this lasted for most of the summer. However, throughout the summer I did accomplish several things – publishing a short story, releasing some new music, and then enrolling into a talent agency. By returning to what I loved doing, I reminded myself that I’m not defined by what happened to me then. When I was up there in New York, I realized how little my petty problems actually were – that the world surrounding me was so much more than the world I created in my head. Certainly you can understand what I mean. Living a secluded life in a relatively small community can lead to emotional sensitivities to things that ultimately do not matter. There are more than seven billion people on this earth, and I would be a fool to think that the only people who cared about me existed inside a bigoted inner circle consisting of maybe one hundred people. That is what I learned, and thus I have successfully moved on by focusing on the future ahead of me.
The next step for me is to remove myself from my family. Although they have been relatively civil within the past several months, my father has made it clear to me only that his relationship is an act that will end once the lease on our current establishment is up, at which point he will finally divorce and leave. However, I think I’ve led him into believing that I will be joining him, since I agreed with his decision due to notions I’ve made very clear in years past. This will not be the case, however. Although my decision to move out will be entirely financially based, I’ve already made it next on my list of things to do now that my enrollment into a talent agency has been completed. I now have more opportunities to work doing things I do enjoy, and a city like Atlanta will allow me to do all of this and so much more. Yes, while I’m open to options, I’ve settled on Atlanta being my destination of choice. Atlanta is known to many as the “Hollywood of the South,” as it is home to many significant film and media companies. Georgia incentives provide up to a 30% tax credit on film and television media projects, which creates significant savings for companies producing feature films; this is why so many companies choose to film here. In 2015’s fiscal year alone, Georgia managed an economic impact of $6 billion from its film/television productions. Such Georgia-lensed productions include Marvel’s “Ant-Man” and “Captain America: Civil War” (the latter of which included scenes in downtown Atlanta), along with AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Plus, with the continual evolving of film production, Atlanta is attracting more and more production companies every year and I feel the city could be a better home for me than New York. Add onto that the milder weather and the 30-50% decrease in cost of living than New York (dependent on factors), and it makes so much more sense financially.
To be honest, I’d hardly consider myself an enthusiast of film production. Yes, I’ve taken several film-oriented classes and in the past several weeks have even been offered work in films (this is thanks to the agency). However, my goal at the end of the day is to be an entrepreneur – to be financially stable by doing what makes me happy while also keeping my options open. I have some projects worth working on in which potential for productivity exists. But the biggest job for me right now is marketing and networking. If there’s one thing I know about either, it’s that the best chances come from the people you know. Unfortunately, that puts me on the short end of the stick because I don’t know anyone in the industry I actually am trying to break into. It doesn’t mean I am completely at a loss, however, because a true showcase of talent will surpass any connection. Thankfully, outside of this I am at a stable point. Starbucks is providing for me free education, and in fact I’m developing within the company as a barista trainer. As I am now eighteen years of age, there are more options for me in terms of stock and other investment opportunities that I can do from within Starbucks. I do feel ready to venture into completely new territory, and my work with the agency will provide that. As I’m currently used to working local and making people coffee every morning, it’s going to be quite a change in pace to be traveling a lot. But that’s the life I want – now I need to focus on allocating my finances to ensure I can move out as soon as possible without going completely bankrupt. I’m not yet at that point because Starbucks pay sucks.
So at the end of the day, what do I mean to suggest in this blog? Well, I want to share with you two things: (1) you are not defined by what you did then; you are defined by what you do now, and (2) education provides a foundation for learning; it will not guarantee you success. I can tell you the latter because I’m currently going to school. I’m not waiting for college to end in the hopes that my degree will become more useful. No, I’m doing something with my life now because I don’t believe in relying on the system to do my bidding. I believe in opportunity above all else, which means that when I see a door open, I walk through it. I proved that to myself when I flew to New York just to enroll in an agency that may or may not provide work (though I have already received offers for work). That is the change of mindset I’ve had: recognizing opportunity and seizing it. Though, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t spend some time to see the Big Apple itself. It truly is a sight worth seeing, full of exuberance and opportunity. I may not be moving there, but I sure as hell will be going back! I want to share with you a photograph I took from the Statue of Liberty:
As I blog more here, I’m going to move away from discussing my personal life and more on my developing professional life. This is because I dislike personal discussions; I find them a waste of valuable time. This is especially evident because I still have no friends despite the fact that I’m surrounded by the same people every day (plus some). You choose your friends after all; while it’s true that I’ve allowed my past experiences to affect how I choose my friends, I’ve also grown more keen in recognizing the societal constructs of which I do not want to get involved. These include such things as parties, gossip groups, cliques, and yes – personal relationships. I don’t want that at all. You might say that I’m just at a state where I’m focused on my work and that I’ll change in the future. I’m open to this being the case. But that’s where I’m at right now, and I’m happy that I can finally begin looking forward to something that will actually give me a sense of fulfillment in life. That’s the only thing I want.
I love you, but your attitude is like that of a shrew. Your options? Take a pill or be my kill. Might I suggest that you wear a vest. Perish in class or be banished to the land of bluegrass, where dreams don't exist as you'll be eternally pissed.
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