Ladies Who Brunch

 “Also, it’s just plain tough out there — for all the aforementioned reasons about the economy and the dating scene and body-image pressures. I want the strongest, happiest, smartest women in my corner, pushing me to negotiate for more money, telling me to drop men who make me feel bad about myself, and responding to my outfit selfies from a place of love and stylishness, not competition and body-snarking.” ~Shine Theory: Why Powerful Women Make the Greatest Friends

I’ll admit it- I’ve been in a funk lately. The combination of post-show depression that followed closing Red Hamlet, and a lack of new opportunities on the horizon has caused me to feel more than a little deflated. I’m looking at another three months at least without a new show to work on. There were a couple of opportunities I was really excited about that unfortunately haven’t panned out. Turns out life up on the wicked stage ain’t never what a girl supposes.

But last Sunday I got a shot of adrenaline pumped right into my metaphorical-theatrical artery.  I had brunch with two girlfriends whose careers are going GREAT. I suppose that has the potential to be an actor’s nightmare, but it was a wonderful morning that gave me a much-needed dose of hope and encouragement.  When I reflect on the last two years of my life, brunches like this one have been a common source of inspiration and support.

Six months after my 2011 graduation, I was in another funk. I was working a sales job I hated, and I hadn’t seen a single show or been on one audition. Fear, insecurity, and a lack of know-how kept me from pursuing the career I had dreamt about and worked for my whole life. At the time, most of my close friends were muggles (non-theatre people). So I sought out advice from an acquaintance, a friend of my sister who was doing very well in Chicago. After I sent her a Facebook message with some career questions, she graciously invited me to brunch for a little pick-your-brain session. The advice and kindness she shared played a major role in giving me the courage to leave my dead-end sales job and immerse myself in Chicago Theatre. (It also helped that she gave me tons of comp tickets over the last two years). Actually meeting someone who had what I wanted, gave me a roadmap to fulfillment.

“Be persistent. Your time will come”. Of course I tell myself these things, but its nice to hear them once in a while. It’s especially nice to hear them from women I respect and admire. It’s not just encouragement we share over eggs in a basket, we share practical advice about the industry. We discuss agencies, submission tactics and laugh about crappy auditions.

I certainly don’t mean to exclude the gentlemen from this post. I could write a whole book of good advice I’ve received from my accomplished actor friends. While in D.C. I had dinner with an old WIU friend who has been doing great in regional theatre. He gave me the single kindest piece of encouragement I’ve had all year.”Keep at it, you are just as good if not better than many of the actresses I work with.” When someone you admire says that… just typing it makes me want to cry.

Being a non-equity actress in a big city is a tough career to maintain. Its filled with rejection, heartbreak, and unsolicited advice from Muggles who see acting as a failure to be normal, rather than a conscious lifestyle choice. The best way to keep your spirits up, is to seek out the company of talented, positive people who have what you want. Seeing women my age who are succesful fills me with hope and reminds me that hard work and endurance pays off. I hope one day I’ll be in a position to pay it forward, and I know exactly where we can meet.

Anyone for brunch?

If any readers have topics they would like me to explore on this blog, feel free to email your suggestions to oconnoerin@gmail.com. 

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