Not really working can be hard for a number of reasons. Of course, there's the financial issue because, you know, tea doesn't buy itself. Then there's the morale issue because not working leads you to questioning what on earth is wrong with you. Then there's the question of whether you can still really call yourself an actor. My acting work over the last year or so has been very few and far between, to the point where, if someone asks what I do for a living, I could just as meaningfully say lawyer, doctor or brain surgeon as I could actor. I've had a couple of jobs here and there but nothing something my mum can tell distant family members about. I've done corporates, I've helped train lawyers and I got a TV acting job that didn't end up happening (one day I promise you an EPIC blog about that), and that's it.
Looking at why I've had such little acting work, and without dwelling too much on my level of talent, there are a few reasons. One, there's hardly any. I know it's cliché to say that it's really quiet right now but it really is quiet right now. Then there's the fact that I have to earn money, I have to do a day job so that I can eat and live and make sure that I've got enough clothes. Having to do a day job means I can't take time away from that to do unpaid acting jobs, not that I want to do unpaid work anyway, but sometimes unpaid stuff is all there is. Then, of course, I've been able to do other things. Writing, creating a Casting Call Woe show, watching every American boxset under the sun, they've all taken me away from acting.
I think what I've learnt in the nearly 11 years since I left drama school is that it's all about finding a balance. In the last few years I've learnt to be a bit easier on myself when it comes to the amount of acting work I do and not to beat myself up over a lack of it. Yes, I do more of my day job than I'd maybe like to and I'd love to dedicate more time to writing and creating things but, as balances go, I'm actually not that down about it. Of course, if I could then I'd make all my money from performing and writing but the performing work isn't there and my writing isn't at the level it needs to be so, right now, this balance works for me. The fact that I get to do any acting and writing work at all is, honestly, a bloody honour and I feel incredibly lucky to do what I do.
A friend of mine recently got a few of us together to, in the face of all the horror that's going on right now, look at what we're doing and how we're getting on. It's a way for us to learn from each other, help each other and just talk about what's going on in our lives and how we want to improve. I honestly can't recommend it enough if it's something you're able to do. Just making a list of what we see others do that seems to work and something we'd like to employ in our daily lives, something actionable and possible and that might make a difference but won't mean the end of the world if it doesn't. Acting can be such a stupidly tricky little beast where it often feels like things are out of your control so doing something where you can have the slightest grasp is a blessed relief.
So if you're at home wondering if it's just you, it's not. Believe me. I know it's hard and sometimes we don't get the chance to do this but remember to not be hard on yourself. Sometimes we have to be, sometimes we have to remind ourselves why we chose to do this and to stop being so bloody lazy (that episode of Stranger Things will still be there tomorrow) but we also have to be nice to ourselves too otherwise there will be nothing of us left to do that short film in Droitwich about a reincarnated llama with a murderous past. And you do not want to miss out on that opportunity...
I've recently set up a Ko-fi page where the idea is that, if you like what someone does, you treat them to a virtual cup of coffee by donating them the money of what a coffee would be in a reasonably pricey cafe. I'm not a fan of coffee, I'm more of a tea person myself, and, to be honest, just people reading, sharing and commenting on what I do is payment enough but it's there if, you know, you fancy it... https://ko-fi.com/A478KN0