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Talk Back: An Actor's Adieu

0605editorialreiss Dear Talent,

It's been difficult to actually sit down and confront you, but I think I've finally reached the breaking point. I know, I have threatened this very thing before. But I'm older now and not getting any younger, especially by the entertainment industry's standards. So I feel after all of these years I have to bid you adieu.

I have nurtured you and catered to you, loved you, and coddled you. Through my undeniable passion, I have fought to get you heard, whether on stage, on TV, or in film; I believed in you, and you never let me down -- not once. In fact, you always exceeded my expectations. So I knew to push on despite the slamming of doors. You stood up to those who discouraged me and didn't back down from the naysayers. Your resilience was a source of pride.

But lately the risks are outweighing the rewards, and I cannot afford you anymore. You leave me feeling embarrassed and ashamed that at my age I basically live at poverty level. As I sit in this corporate office dressed in slacks and a blouse trying yet again to temporarily make enough to sustain your constant neediness, I just feel like crying. I don't want to abandon you, but I'm left with no choice. What used to be joyful now breeds resentment. The accolades you received now depress me -- they're pressing reminders that I should stay in the ring and continue to take the punches.

But I'm tired, Talent. We've been in this race a long time, and it's taken me this long to realize there never will be a finish line, only pit stops of cheer to quench your thirst temporarily. To put it simply -- and I'm sorry if this sounds harsh -- you have become a burden. I cannot support you anymore. I've sacrificed so many things, including my dignity a few times, to keep you alive. I believe it's why I haven't found love. You always insisted upon being No. 1.

Now I can't help but wonder what my life would have been like if I'd been born without you. I know many people who exist and feel fulfilled without the ability to act. Would I have been okay to sit in a cubicle, wearing professional attire, instead of feeling like I am in a jail cell, wearing an orange jumpsuit? It seems people born without the acting bug can lead "normal" lives, get "regular" kinds of work, and receive salaried pay. But I have gone out of my way to find the irregular, nonpaying jobs to make you happy. How I wish we could survive on joy alone.

I love you so very much. I weep at the thought of extinguishing this fire, finally having to douse your flame with society's wishes. But I do know this: I wouldn't trade a minute of time we've spent together. I have to believe you found me for a reason. Though I am breaking ties and sending you on your way, I will never forget the immense pleasure you brought me during the moments you were free and out there for all to see. When you were the brightest star and reached out to touch souls other than mine. You will always frame my walls and be a spiritual presence. As I wish you away to go on our own journeys I merely have this to say: Break a leg.

Love, Amy

Amy Reiss will be moving back home to New York after shopping (aka shlepping) her talent around Los Angeles for nine years. She hopes to find fulfillment in other types of work. She also looks forward to loving a man with all the commitment and passion she gave to talent.

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Thank you for this beautiful piece, Amy. I wish you all the happiness in the world. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you failed.

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