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Coming Full-Circle

This morning I had a few minutes to catch part of "The View". The women interviewed über cool, phenomenal actor, Laurence Fishburne. During the course of the conversation, Mr. Fishburne revealed that he met Sherri Shepherd back in the day - apparently she ambushed him on an airplane and asked him to give her some acting lessons. Sherri screamed and looked visibly shaken. "You remember that?" she kept asking. Then she appologized for approaching him in that manner. THEN she started crying. That was the moment she realized that she was sitting onstage at a taping of a nationally-syndicated (international as well, maybe?) talk show with Laurence Fishburne and Whoopi Goldberg, both of whom (presumably) she has admired for a long time. It was a "full-circle" moment.

When she started crying, I felt it. It's easy to lose perspective in Los Angeles (and perhaps even in New York City) where there are so many 'actors' (real or delusioned) that the words "I'm an actor/ actress" don't garner many raised eyebrows. In the rest of the nation, though, saying "I'm an actor." is tantamount to admitting to perpetual, self-imposed unemployment and will usually be met with the attitude (if not the actual comment) that the 'actor' should "Get a REAL job!" If you don't have the visibility of Tom Cruise or Halle Berry, you are a wannabe. "Quit playin' and go get a real job."

Head in the clouds, you move to the coast, get a survival job to sustain you while you take classes, headshot pictures and try to find representation. It takes a few years to get all of your ducks in a row, but you are committed. Finances are tight, occasionally you have to call a friend or family member and ask for money (something you hate unless it's absolutely necessary). Sometimes they have it to give, sometimes they don't, but spoken or unspoken, there is the undertone of: "Get a real job so you don't have to ask for money." Some days you think they're right.

But you can't help it. If you don't act, you are going to diiiie! So you continue to cast your line into the industry, getting some nibbles here and there. The highs are high, but they are few and far between. By this time you've sacrificed so much and feel like you're in so deep that you HAVE to continue moving forward. It's been said that "The darkest hour is just before the dawn." so just when you want to give up is when you need to hang in there a little longer. So you do. And everything falls into place. After 10 years in the trenches, you have become an overnight success. Somebody believes in your talent enough to want to represent you. You are auditioning, getting callbacks, and booking. Hell-ooo, you are getting PAID to do what you have done for FREE for so long. You are allowed to drive onto studio lots that were previously off-limits to you. "OMG, there's David E. Kelley's parking spot!!" "OMG, I'm shooting a scene with WHO??" Your heart beats a little faster. You are DOING it. Everybody said you were crazy, and maybe you are, but you are a crazy WORKING actor. You are doing something that you love so much that you did it for free (or darn-near) for a long time. Getting paid is the cherry on top, and if they are paying you, it must be a REAL JOB, right?

Sometimes a little perspective makes a world of difference. I wish each and every reader a "full-circle" moment. Over the past couple of years, I have been blessed to experience them often.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

--Nicole J. Butler

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