By Sept 2002 I had lived in LA for over a year, had been to a crazy number of auditions, and I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was working a desk job to ‘pay the bills’ and ‘fall back in case acting didn’t pan out’, but I reached a point where I realized I didn’t move to LA to hide behind mediocrity and everybody else’s expectations. So I quit my secure, 9-5 well paying job. Since then I’ve been working towards a future that I wasn’t sure about, never really knowing how it would unfold, nor how long it would take for me to realize my dreams. I just knew I didn’t belong behind a desk.
This journey began with me facing my fears and inadequacies (I was a stand-up not a writer) by writing and staging the seminal scenes of my bare bones solo show Basic Training during acting classes, the first of which was taught by Jeffrey Tambor.
The success of Basic Training has taken me to more cities than I can remember, won more awards than I can name and sold more tickets than I care to count.
But it wasn’t an agent or a manager, nor was it some gatekeeper ‘discovering me’ that made the difference. It started with me creating an opportunity for myself. Broke and on the ropes, I had to create to survive.
People see the names attached to the recent Humanitas New Voices television development deal based on my show and they assume that these well heeled and famous television execs came on board early on and whisked me away to Hollywood board rooms and pitch sessions with the greatest of ease. I won’t list the names of the execs here because the name dropping isn’t necessary, but suffice to say you know their work. And that’s not the way it happened. I had to build it, and build it…and build it. And then I had to seek them out. Yes, there were introductions along the way.
Here’s what I learned: If you want a break, create it.
I had to get my ass kicked in acting class, take the show out on the road to Fringe festivals, go back to class, listen to countless agents and casting directors tell me that it was time to write something new, and then keep writing and rehearsing while working four shitty jobs like stocking shelves at Albertson’s Grocery Store on midnight shift with ex-cons, sometimes sleeping in my truck or wherever I could crash.
Whether you’re an actor or not, waiting for someone to give you a break is a dead end. Will yourself to failure, seek out people smarter than you and listend to them but don’t worship them, and mediocrity won’t become your legacy.