Hey, anyone who might be reading this. It’s been a whopping two years or so since I last posted here, i.e. since I actually posted anything public on the Internet. I’m not sure if there’s anyone out there who would still want to read my stuff, but if you do, thank you so much. I’m truly grateful to you for sticking with me even though I kind of disappeared into a cave.
So, first thing’s first. If you didn’t already know, I stopped acting. I don’t want to say I “quit” acting–“quit” implies that I wanted to continue and gave up, or felt like I couldn’t find success. In all honesty, I feel like if my heart had really been in it and I worked my ass off for every audition I went to, I could have gotten more work. If it was what I really wanted to do, I would have found a way to get some more roles. But the older I got, and the more I felt like writing was my true calling, the less interest I had in acting. Whenever I got an audition, I saw it as an obligation rather than a privilege (which is horrible, considering how many people would kill to be getting auditions! Now that I’m older and better understand how viciously difficult it is to break into an industry, especially the entertainment industry, I realize how lucky I was to have the chance to take part in it in the first place. But I’m getting ahead of myself here). I didn’t take the auditions seriously because I no longer cared about them. So I asked my agents to stop sending me out.
Soon after that–to my enormous surprise, since I thought they were finished writing for my character–Hannah Montana called asking me to do a couple more episodes. I was excited, because I remembered how much fun I had on the show in the past. Then I got and the set and…that excitement never returned to me. I was bored. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything meaningful. When I realized I was spending my time on set sitting in a dark corner reading The Shining, I knew something was wrong. I knew I wasn’t in the right place.
When I was little, I couldn’t see myself acting as an adult. Something told me it wasn’t something I would want to do my whole life. So I promised myself I would act until I didn’t enjoy it anymore. And around March 2010, I reached that point. I felt out of place. For me, acting was all about creating characters, about bringing them to life. When I started writing, I found a medium that allowed me more flexibility with character creation. As an actress, I’m limited to my own demographic–teenage to young adult girl, Caucasian, 5’3″. Sure, I’ll get older, and that demographic will change a little, but it’s still limited (I’m not criticizing the acting profession here, by the way. It’s a wonderful profession. I’m just explaining why it’s not for me). As a writer, I can get into the head of any character I want. I can be an adult black man. I can be a toothless old lady with one eye. I can be a Native American woman who’s six feet tall. And you know what the best part is? I can be all three of these characters at the same time, include them in the same story, and have them interact with one another.
Don’t get me wrong. I am so grateful to have had the experiences I had in the acting world. So few people get that opportunity, so I definitely don’t take it for granted. I will never regret acting, but I will also never regret leaving. I had some of the best experiences of my life with my friends on the set. And if I hadn’t acted, I’d be taking out a buttload of loans right now just to pay my way through college (I’ll be a sophomore in the fall). Every day I say thank you, thank you, thank you to the luck I’ve had because it is paying for something very important to me.
But there were downsides to the acting world, too. People I’d never met gossiped about me online. I now understand that’s just how people can be sometimes, but when I saw criticisms written about me when I was twelve or thirteen, I reacted badly. I was young and felt hurt, so I lashed out at the critics. I made public posts about how “mean” everyone was when I should have left it alone. On top of that, a lot of aspects of the entertainment industry felt superficial. I don’t wear make-up or put on much jewelry or anything, and back when I was acting, my preferred outfit was a sweatshirt and jazz pants (my style’s changed a bit since). “Glamorous” has never been an adjective I’d use to describe myself. As an actress, I felt like I was expected to be glamorous. I felt expected to be girly in ways that I’m not. Now, if acting had been my true passion, of course I would have found a way to deal with this. Not every actor or actress feels the need to be glamorous–I would have been myself and not apologized for it. But acting was no longer the thing I loved. Writing was. There are some amazing, committed, hardworking actors and actresses out there who love what they do. Because of that, I’m sure traveling all over the world, enduring insults from online strangers, and the amplified amount of media exposure is something they’re willing to deal with. It’s a sacrifice they make for their art. It’s not my art. I liked it well enough, but it wasn’t my passion, so the bad stuff wasn’t worth it.
If you wanna see another perspective on this, the wonderful former actress Mara Wilson writes about it beautifully in her blog (you can read the entry here). Of course, keep in mind that I didn’t have the amount of success as Mara as a kid, and I’m no where near her level of brilliance! But when I read this entry, I got so excited. Someone got it. Someone else had success in the entertainment business and decided they were done. Someone else followed her heart. It was immensely encouraging to read.
So, where am I now? Like I said, I’m about to be a sophomore in college. I’m in the middle of my third novel, but this summer I’m putting that on hold as I do a massive edit of my first novel. Once I’m done with that, I’m gonna start shopping it around to agents. Remember how I mentioned earlier that I now understand how hard it is to break into an industry? Researching the book industry is how I know! It’s terrifying! But I’m gonna try.
Thank you so much for reading to the end. It means a lot and I hope you’re having a good summer, whoever you are.
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