After I've graduated from acting school, the acting gigs I get come and go like the waves in the ocean, or like clouds floating by on a windy, blue Chicago sky. I don't have a concise answer for people when they ask me what I do.
"I'm a freelance...actor. And I'm a teaching artist. And I also private tutor kids. Oh, and I teach an after school acting class at an elementary school in Chinatown." Truth be told, each of those things is accurate. I'm proud of what I do. I love that each day is different, and that I have a loving husband and cuddly cat - recently found not to be so cuddly with other cats - at home waiting for me. That's all I really need.
A few days ago, I woke up to do a voiceover at 8am, to be submitted by 9am. Then, I fed our cat, made breakfast for my husband and I, and did my hair and makeup. After that, I headed out to my first of two castings in a day. I took the train cross-town to my first casting, and the bus to my next one. Afterwards, I went grocery shopping - using the grocery bag I had packed in my purse that morning - and went home to prepare dinner. I vowed to myself: If every day could be like this, I would be content.
It's necessary for most actors to have side hustles in addition to being actors full-time. We're self-employed artists, and that means that we get to be creative with our time and resources, hopefully to create more resources and opportunities for ourselves. I've realized more and more that creating opportunities for myself is the most productive thing that I can be doing - not waiting around for opportunities to find me where I am.
Besides, creating my own opportunities for myself is not just about getting my name out there. That's not the sole purpose of my work - at least I don't want it to be. The purpose of creating my own opportunities is to share my perspective and artistic content with the world in hopes that it will make a positive difference in at least one other person's life.
Currently, I have a few personal projects under way:
1. A musical
2. A children's book
3. A short film
Honestly, it's been hard to get started on these, even though the idea of each of them excites me immensely. But I have only to hack at them little by little each day. In Chinese, there's an idiom (illustrated below) that moving one rock a day can move mountains.
The story behind the idiom features Yu Gong, whose name literally means Mr. Fool. Yu Gong took it upon himself to move a few mountains, rock by rock, that were bothering him. He worked tirelessly to move the rocks and believed that one day the mountains would be gone due to his efforts. Yu Gong was mocked by others who told him that his goal of moving mountains would never succeed, but God took notice of Yu Gong's work and rewarded him by removing the mountains.
My hope is that even on days when nothing exciting is happening (that would be most days), I can still find the motivation and excitement to pursue my projects with creativity and persistence. The artist's journey is not an easy one. I'm learning that I need a lot more knowledge, a lot more discipline, and a lot more entrepreneurship in the way I manage my life and priorities. This task is daunting, but I'm determined to take it on and make things work.
Hold onto your dreams! Work hard every day and don't look too far from the goal. And in all things, have faith that you have enough for each day. "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34)
Thank you for reading my blog post! This blog is in a lot of ways a form of accountability for me. I hope to have made full drafts of each of my personal project goals by July 2020!
Shine On! XO
At the beginning of my senior year of college, I've noticed a lot of pros that come with being at the top of the hierarchy: Freshmen look up to you and believe all of the advice you give them. You no longer have to wander aimlessly in search of your acting classroom hidden deep within the confines of the student union. You have all of the insider knowledge of the campus. Nothing comes as a surprise anymore, and you can literally strut down the quad because you aren't self-conscious about your pajamas anymore. We're SENIORS now. We can handle anything. Am I right or am I right?
Um. Not really.
As seniors, the looming fear of the future presses upon us every, single, freakin' DAY. Premed students are interviewing left and right. Some classmates who are applying to grad school are taking the GRE tomorrow (Good luck Drew!), and people like me who aren't going the traditional route have to stay on top of our own game figuring out which applications to fill out and when. On top of THAT, many of us are still trying to sustain active lives within our favorite extra-curriculars, and oh, I forgot...we have normal schoolwork to keep up with as well.
So how do we stay sane and remember that the future isn't as scary as it seems?
To illustrate how I answer this question, let me share a passage about an assignment that Jesus gave his disciples in the middle of his career:
"And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff--no bread, no bag, no money in their belts--but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.
And he said to them, 'Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.' So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them." (Mark 6:7-13 ESV)
So, here are four points on a little perspective for our senior predicament:
1. We're All In This Together.
Look around you. If you see underclassmen, be happy that you've come so far. If you see fellow seniors, know that they're trying to figure things out too. If they seem like they have it all together, chances are they're doing a really good job at hiding what other insecurities they feel. No one is perfect. Some people are better planners than others, but no one who cares about you will leave you in the dust. When we need encouragement, talking to a friend, our parents, or a mentor is one of the best remedies out there. You are not alone.
2. You Are Enough.
What possessions do you have with you right now? In a dorm room, you may have all that you own at school with you. If you're studying at the library (and being more productive than me writing this blog post), you probably have a little less with you--just a backpack and some valuables.
Now imagine you're running in the desert with Ki Hong Lee in 'The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials.' The last Crank that just sneaked up on you pulled off your backpack, leaving you with nothing but what's on your body. You're running for dear life.
Jesus would probably be impressed that you don't even have a staff.
My point is, nothing that you have done, and nothing that you will achieve can add or take away from WHO YOU ARE. You're worth fighting for, and your dreams are worth dreaming simply because they're YOURS.
3. Don't Get Attached
We are so young. Chances are many of us will end up in careers that we didn't even know existed. Even though we're applying to things and trying to figure out what we want to do with our entire lives, the truth is, the next thing will ever only be a PART of the journey.
Things won't go the way you expect, so spare yourself some heartache and realize how much potential you have in multiple capacities. Be open-minded for yourself, and remember that closed doors are often blessings in disguise.
4. Make Your Mark
You are talented. You are beautiful. And you are capable of so much. Whether you're hoping to become an actress like me, a teacher, a social worker, a lawyer, a doctor, or anything in between...I believe that we all have the power to heal people through our work. Whether it's physically, psychologically, spiritually, or emotionally, we all have the potential to influence other people's lives, no matter how small. With our decisions, acts of kindness, and investments, we can make a big difference together.
So there you have it! A short list of four things to keep in mind about how Senior year of college...is actually going to be our best year yet!
Shine on! XOXO
I honestly feel like acting is one of the purest ways to love others.
As an Asian American Christian woman, I feel like there are a lot of expectations from my family and friends (mostly the relatives beyond my nuclear family) that I may not be keeping because of my love for acting and film. Even my alternative career path in journalism is considered 'better' in their opinion and certainly more stable, but there's something about the creativity and freedom found in acting that is irreplaceable to me.
My theory of acting is that you must LOVE the person you are portraying in order to act with authenticity, vulnerability, and humility. Even the most evil villain can be loved, because they have a story. In addition, I believe that God loves all people, no matter what race they are, what gender they are, what sexuality they identify with, what criminal history they have, or occupations that they have. None of those things can separate anyone from God's free gift of love, which we can all share with each other once we accept Christ into our hearts.
By loving my character, I have the opportunity to free myself from self-righteousness, which is so easy to fall into. I MUST put aside all judgement, all self-consciousness, and give my all to this person who is hurting. This person who needs something. This person who is really just like me.
That's why I think acting is one of the purest, most selfless ways of loving others.