We’ve all seen it. Were all guilty of it. We all hate it.

Half-assed action.

It comes in many forms, like a shape-shifting whirligig. Maybe you are trying to collaborate with someone on a new project. You both talk about it, get really excited, start kicking some ideas around, then get distracted and look at twitter.

Or

“Finally! It’s happened! I did it! I booked that thing! Hell to the yes! I’m so happy to do this thing!” Then you do the fun thing that you booked, and get trapped in the amber of short term success.

Even

Classes and meetings with industry professionals have been going exceptionally well. You’ve received their contact information, and you have every valid reason to start reaching out, but you don’t. You know that you must, but you don’t want to be a bother.

Artistic follow through is one of the most important things an actor can add to their toolbox. Getting to an incomplete place can be just a detrimental to a career as doing nothing at all. In an industry where your work ethic and commitment is valued as much as gold, it is never a smart idea to be labeled as a “non starter”. Or worse yet, to not be thought of at all.

Distraction is easy to bumble into. Commitment and follow through are learned practices. They are hard, potentially energy sapping, but certainly vastly rewarding. The more you apply a new positive practice to life the easier it becomes, until eventually it becomes like blinking or breathing.

Now I’m not advocating for a hyper artistic state, where you say yes to everything, and go supernova. All that’s left after that is an artistic black hole of nothingness that will take an unknown amount of time to recover from. Saying no to things is healthy, but the why is the most important. Why are you saying no? If it’s for a valid reason then that’s fine. But if it’s based in fear, a lack of conviction, or general laziness then it’s time to have a serious look.

One of the best ways to start getting all the things you want is to collaborate with other artists. Start making work that you are proud of, so you can start telling people about it. Then eventually you can show it to them either in a reel or a performance. This will begin to catch the attention of higher tier industry who will begin to call on you to audition/be in a project, which you then tell people about, and eventually show them in one way or another. Creation, presentation, conversation, and commiseration are all part of the tapestry of a successful artistic career. No one has the key to open your door but you, and it can’t be found until you forge it in the fire of experience and positive practice.

Remember the stumbling blocks on the path of your artistic journey were not placed their by others, so take out that hammer and smash the shit out of them!

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It started as it usually did, with an email from my manager. The subject just read “The Tick”, and I opened it happy to have another opportunity.  I confirmed the appointment, printed out my sides, and started working on my scenes; like I usually do. At the time all I knew was that it was for a recurring role on a new Amazon show. Not that one of my biggest dreams was about to come true.

As I a walked out of the elevator to audition for Suzanne Ryan I was struck by how different everyone was in the waiting room. I’m usually greeted by a pile of large men with beards all nodding at each other, but this time men of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities where there to greet me. I signed in, sat down, and waited for my turn.

When I walked into the room Suzanne very warmly greeted me and told me a little bit about what I was auditioning for. She said:

“Okay Josh, this show is incredibly funny, but has very dark moments.” “It is based off of the old comic book, and cartoon series of the same name.”

I stammered out:

“The Tick?” “The blue guy who is a tick?”

“Yes that’s the one.” She said.

“I used to watch the cartoon with my brother religiously, and read a ton of the comics.” I totally understand what this is.” I managed to force out of my almost paralyzed mouth.

“Great, let’s get started.”

We did three takes. The first one was a little too big for what the current version of the show was trying to be. Suzanne helped me take my original idea and anchor it in a darker reality for the second, and we only did a third because her camera went out of focus in the middle of my read. We were both very pleased with how it went, said our goodbyes, and I made my way back to the elevator.

The doors opened, I stepped in, and as the elevator made its descent I realized I was shaking. The folks waiting in the lobby were very surprised when the doors opened and a large human was standing before them shaking, with tears in his eyes, quietly mumbling to himself. I took a moment to compose myself, and wrote a quick email to my manager thanking her for getting me in the room for such an incredible opportunity.

I walked back to my train practically on fire with unbridled joy. This type of project was exactly what I wanted to be going after, and not only that, I had done an incredible job in the room. Booking or no, I as so happy to be on what I felt was the right track. On my way home a new audition came in and I stared working on it, like I usually do.

A few days went by, and I had forgotten about my audition for “The Tick”. I was eating lunch and reading about whatever news garbage was making me angry at the moment, when suddenly my phone vibrates. It’s an email from my manger, the subject is “The Tick – Pin”. I open it, confirm I’m still available, and immediately start crying into my sandwich. An hour later the official offer comes in, and I’m calling my wife trying to keep my shit together. I start work the following Monday.

My first day I was blown away. I had stepped into a small city of moving parts. Never had I worked on a project with a budget of this size. The scope of what I was about to become a part of slowly settled in. I took a deep breath, reported to my dressing room, and got ready to have some fun. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of my friends, Charlie Duncan, was first team dresser. I sat in hair and make up with a dumb smile as my hair was cut into an amazingly modern style and an eye of Horus tattoo was added to my face.

I then went on a multi week journey of shooting, what I thought, was a two episode recurring role. I was working with actors I had watched and respected and holding my own in scenes with them. Cars were exploding, machines guns were rattling, and general silliness was abound. I was getting script pages an hour before I had to go shoot, and was busy cramming them into my brain even as we walked onto set. I was learning and growing on the fly in a truly organic way, and existing in scenes with my cast mates with unfettered creativity. All of my training and preparation had converged right here at this moment in my life, and I felt like I was flying. I even got to meet one of my childhood heroes Ben Edlund, the creator of the “The Tick”, who was fully involved in the whole process.

Then I learned that I would be getting another episode. I was thrilled. The team had seen something in me and wanted to keep my story going. Then I got another one, and one more after that. My two episode role had turned into five. My role kept expanding and getting bigger scenes, it was one of the most validating experiences of my life. Then what felt like a whirlwind few months came to an end. I was intensely proud of the work I had done, and the new friends I had made.

But it wasn’t over yet. A few short weeks later I was honored to walk my first carpet at the premiere. Its was a flurry of energy and fun, with photographers screaming my name in order to get the best possible shot. It was spectacularly surreal and incredible. I am eternally grateful for such a rewarding and gratifying experience and can’t wait to see what happens next!

The first six episodes are streaming now on Amazon. I am in four, five, and six. The next six with be released February 23rd and I will be in some of those as well. It is worth your time, and I’m not just saying that because I am a part of it. Check it out man!

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It’s a slow creeping thing. You’re going about a perfectly normal day when seemingly out of nowhere icy fingers sink into the dark matter and squeeze it into paralysis. All of your reason and positivity slowly get pushed to the background, and all that remains is a murky shadow vomiting acid into your neurons. All of your triumphs become failures, and everything you knew to be true flies away like a kite in a hurricane. You have just come face to face with the dream killer, the creativity crusher, the artistic world smasher.

Fear.

Fear can manifest itself in many destructive ways. Maybe you are being eaten alive by what friends and colleagues are posting on social media, or the business side of this industry is making you constantly question how your limited money is spent on networking. Perhaps you feel like your agent/manager has little interest in you, or when you go to an audition all that is happens is you suck and everyone hates you for being there. The list of negative spiraling could go on forever and a day. What’s most important is the truth.

None of it is true.

For me fear manifests itself as a totally irrational thing. That I’m a fraud. When I get into this mindset I genuinely feel like I’ve somehow tricked the system and everyone is just a second away from finding out that I have no idea what I’m doing. As it turns out this is a very real thing called impostor syndrome, and it’s very common for creatives. Once I figured out what I was doing to myself I was able to combat this fear by using a logic breakdown.  I sit down and trace my acting life back to the beginning. It helps if you keep an acting journal. Here is how I keep a log:

Three labels:

Workshop/Class, Audition, Booking.

I answer these questions:

What did I learn? What worked well? What needs to be worked on? How did I feel in the beginning, middle, and end? Any thoughts for how to make this easier in the future?

By doing this I am able to see my gains in real time. It is stone cold proof that what I’ve been doing is correct. Fear may jump up and rattle my cage, but because I can trace my journey is makes is easier to let the light in.

As for the people doing great things on your social media, just jump on the happiness wagon. Those are their victories that will never be yours, because they are happening to them. You will absolutely have your own soon.  If networking is giving you the shivers, then do some research. Get to know the people that are making/casting work you are passionate about. Work smarter not harder. If you feel like your agent/manager relationship isn’t where it should be, then get in contact with them and have a conversation. Nothing can change unless you start a dialogue.

One last thing. I promise you that you don’t suck. You are being called in to audition for a reason. It’s not an accident or random chance, no one has time for that. Try and remember that it’s some time to have fun, and do what you love.

Fear is a chemical reaction. It’s just the release of adrenaline and cortisol that fills the body with energy. Harness and refocus that energy into something positive!

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Click bait! Sorry not sorry! But here’s the thing…

People are on the warpath over “pay to play” workshops and classes. Now I am coming at this from the perspective of someone who lives and works in the NYC entertainment industry, with only a general understanding of how it works in LA. But despite some practices that I view as distasteful, immoral, and unethical. My experience working with the casting community has been overwhelmingly positive. When you sign up for a class of this nature you must have an explicit understanding of how your money is being spent, how it’s going to benefit you, and what the logical expectations should be.

In the beginning I felt the way many of my colleagues do. I couldn’t understand how this pay to audition bullshit was happening. After just being spat out of a creative institution where all I did was foster and learn my creative identity and purpose, the very notion of this made me ill. I had student loans after all, and expenses, and rent, and all the other things I need money for! I came here to work man, can’t they see I don’t have time for this? Don’t they care? Reality jumped up quick as a cat and slapped me in my idealistic face.

No one gives a shit about you, until you show them something to give a shit about.

It took me about a year to come to my senses and realize that I am a product, a business, a commodity. It turns an actor inside out at first. Here we are with our inner artist on fire to create, and we are met with a seemingly impassible chasm of stone cold business. In order for an agent or manager to even give half a fuck about you, an actor needs to know how to kick these doors down. We must build and foster relationships with the individuals who cast the work we want to be doing. One of the ways we can do this is by taking a workshop or class with a casting director.

Now it is very important to understand what these are. They are not acting classes. Do not go into a casting workshop with new materiel that you have not worked on. This is the wrong setting for this type of work. The only exception is if you have audition sides you want to run by them. This class is a casting class. You are learning what this person or office likes to see in the room, what level of preparedness they expect, and start to feel them out as people. You do this by understanding the notes they give you when working with them, and the answers to questions you might have. It’s important to strip any deity type feelings you might have for these people. They are not the fates, they do not hold your very life in their hands. Casting directors are creative people just like us, many of them have agents just like we do, and they all want what we want.

They want to cast us as bad as we want to be cast.

That being said. Don’t expect to be called in for what they are casting right now either. In fact the only expectation you can have is to learn. Clint Alexander does workshops all the time. The man is the head of casting for Fox and only casts gigantic roles for these shows. He won’t call you in until you have something on your resume to show that you are ready for that tier jump. I’ve taken classes with him knowing this full well, because I wanted to know what to do when I got to his level. I met him five years ago for the first time, and he just started calling me in for things last month. When I went in that room for the first time I killed that fucking audition, because I had learned how to do it from him over the course of our time together in class.

In the end it is your money after all, and you choose what you do with it. It is important to look at the landscape of our industry for what it is right now and figure out how to work in it, where to go, and what works best for you. I would just advise you to do your own research, and pick what you feel will have the largest positive impact. Don’t hamstring yourself because of hearsay or negativity.

Now get out there and meet some casting directors! Most of them enjoy fried foods and alcohol as much as you do. Some run marathons and do cross fit just like you. Some may even love ::gasp:: reality television just like ::gasp:: you. But how will you know this unless you meet them on common ground and reach out like a human being.

 

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My mind whispers to me in the quiet moments.

“You could be doing more.”

It says as I am having a beer in my backyard.

“Why are you squandering all this potential? You know you could be doing even better if you just stopped wasting your fucking time.”

The floating organ in my head taunts as I am enjoying a meal with my wife.

Actors battle with this specific demon on a regular basis. We are constantly at war with the person we could potentially become. In many ways this is a manifestation of our drive, and dedication to succeed in an industry where very few do. Or it can be a crushing, paralyzing force that keeps an artist from doing much of anything at all. It is a sometimes painful, and maddening dance that we have with ourselves.

This starts to happen to me when I am in between projects. If I think logically I come to realize that I am never away from a project for very long, but after a few days of rest I start to get itchy, restless, and mildly irrational. These feelings come from a proactive place of always wanting to be moving forward and improving, but there is a difference between constructive review, and mentally flagellating.

How I go about combating this damaging behavior is by taking stock of a six month period of time. Five months in the past from today, and one month in the future. This let’s me actually see what I’ve done, and helps to shut that mean asshole in my head the fuck down. I put most of the importance and emphasis on the “little things” like networking, classes, and research. I do list what projects I have worked on as well, but I have to constantly remind myself that I get to do fun acting work, because of the time and focus that I put into the “little things”.

Here is my current six month period:

In the past five months I have:

Gone to 20 classes.

Gone to 8 networking events.

Have done many hours of research on new TV/Film coming to NY, who’s casting it, etc.

Shot a small role in an Indie Feature.

Shot a small role on a Netflix show.

Shot five episodes of an Amazon show.

Shot a large role on an HBO show.

Next month:

Go to 4 classes

Go to 2 networking events.

Continue my research.

I am pinned for a Feature.

I start a contract at the MET Opera.

The only way to combat creeping negativity is to punch it in the mouth with realistic positivity. When you can lay all the specific gains you have made down before you, it will make all the difference in the world.

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Recently I have been going through some of my usual nonsense. You know the self doubt, negative self talk, second guessing choices, and just a general haze of perceived professional failure. This of course is all bullshit, but from time to time bizzaro Josh shows up and starts screaming pain gibberish at me.

This happens to actors more than we care to admit, and it can be brought on for different reasons. Maybe we see some of our peers booking new great work, or we feel like we are not getting called in enough, or a group of people are starting a new independent project you were not asked to be a part of, or…blah…blah…blah…

It’s all just negative noise that does us no good.

Whenever I book something or create a new project I find myself not taking the time to enjoy or even understand what I have just accomplished.

“Acceptable stepping stone.” I say in my head.

When I should be saying, “Incredible, look how far you’ve come. Be proud of how the hard work is paying off, and you are able to provide for your family.”

What jarred me out of my negative shit spiral this time, was a very literal visual reminder.

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Here I am as General Zod and Superman! This was my first booking with my very first agent. Every year around Halloween these images go back out into the world on all the costume websites. It used to embarrass me, and make me want to hide in a hole. This time when they came back into my life they helped me remember and appreciate how far I’ve come. It made me go back and read my last blog post: I Made My Own Dreams Come True.

What it made me remember the most vividly was how much fun I had doing that shoot! I loved wearing these dumb costumes and taking pictures. I remember being so proud at the time. So now instead of being ashamed of these images, I carry them with me on my phone. I’ve put them on my computer’s desktop so I look at them everyday. They are a constant reminder of where I have been, and where I am going!

Remember, everyone’s journey is their own. It will travel down it’s own unique set of twists and turns, pitfalls, and triumphs. What makes it so special is that it belongs to you and no one else. So enjoy the damn thing!

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It’s been a number of weeks since we wrapped principal photography of our series.  “We” are 2 Ladies & A Giant, and the series is called “After”. It’s about a young widower who, with the help of his family and friends, is trying to get back into the dating game. A Dramedy that deals with loss, friendship, love, forgiveness, and rebirth.

I wanted to start a production company for years. It was always an idea I had as far back as college. But it always went something like this in my head,

“I want to start a company and produce my own work. Then I could control what we produce and do the really juicy roles I’ve always wanted to…” ::Get’s distracted by a shiny object:: “What was I saying? Let’s go get drunk!”

It wasn’t until five years ago that this dream of mine finally started to become a reality. It stemmed from a place of total helplessness. I came back from Florida (where I went to grad school) and realized, with great speed, I had no idea what the fuck was going on. I was like a baby bird trying to fly for the first time.

I failed a lot. A whole fucking lot.

With each failure I pulled apart what went wrong and figured out how to make it go right the next time. I quickly learned about our industry, and the people in it. It didn’t take long to discover who spoke with a loud voice and who was getting shit done.

Our mission as a company is a simple one,

“To empower women, and minorities in the entertainment industry.”

Why?

You know why…

With this idea in mind I set out to find my two business partners. I knew what I was looking for:

  1. Women.
  2. Passionate about creating art.
  3. Honest.
  4. People I could argue with.

It look a long while, but I eventually found them. Teegan Curitz and Olivia Baptista. Two power house women with a creative fire that can’t be snuffed out. I spent about a year hanging out with them, and getting to know them individually to make sure they were people I wanted to start a business with. We got together in January of  2016 started working on our first project and shot that project in it’s eleven episode entirety during June of 2016.

This is a wonderful accomplishment but we are far from done. I’ve never met two people who are as hungry to create as I am. We compliment each others strengths and weaknesses. I know that we will continue to produce quality work that audiences around the world are hungry for. “After” is just the beginning! We can’t wait to share this, and our many other projects 🙂

Here is the first trailer for “After”:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/180677652″>After – Trailer 1</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/2ladies”>2Ladies&amp;AGiant</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

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One of the conversations I’ve been having a ton in the past few months with fellow actors is:

“Yeah I want to do that, but I’m not allowed to.”

“What does that mean? What are we not allowed to do?”

“You know. You can’t just talk to a Casting Director, Agent, Manager, Film Maker, Producer, or Writer. You know, If I just keep my head down and work really hard they will notice me eventually.”

“No they won’t.”

Here is the deal. It’s a very simple thing. No one is going to know that you want to do something unless you tell them. Now I’m not saying to run into someones office smearing mustard on your chest screaming:

“I want to do things. I am telling you about it now. Look at this mustard! I Facebook stalked you, and found out you like mustard!!!”

Nor should you just generically say:

“I want to/would love to work with you.”

The above statement is so incredibly white bread, and easily forgettable. The real problem is Actors feel powerless. We have been incorrectly taught for most of our creative lives that everyone else has the power. Let me assure you, there is not a metal armed man stroking a cat, laughing maniacally, and plotting ways keep you unemployed and sad. You are the one keeping you unemployed and sad.

The more that you let other people control your destiny, the less you will do. Now I’m not saying to be like Mr. Mustard Chest, but you can learn something from him.

Do research.

What do you want to be doing? Film? TV? Stage? Stunts? There is always something opening/premiering weekly. You find out what it is, and if it interests you, go. Then go to the talk back/after party/bar everyone is going to, and just start talking to the people who worked on it. Ask questions about the process, and take a real interest in it. After a little normal conversation you can then say:

“Hey, so I’m an Actor/Writer/Stunt person/Director/Filmmaker. What you did here was great. I really enjoyed it. I am local, and would love to collaborate with you. Here is my information let’s grab a drink soon and kick some shit around.”

At this point you will most likely exchange information. They next day you reach out and try to plan a time to meet and talk. Congratulations now someone who creates things knows who you are. You will then begin to work with other creatives on some great projects, and most likely you will start making some of your own.

Then when you come into contact with Casting Directors/Agents/Managers you’ve flipped the script from:

“Oh man, all I want to do is work. I can’t wait for you to give it to me.”

To

“Oh man, I can’t wait to merge our skill sets, and get to work.”

Look at you taking your creative power back. Once you stop giving away your power to randos and people who could give a shit, and start letting it fuel you and make you a better artist something incredible happens. You start getting everything you’ve always wanted.

You are enough. Don’t wait for someone else to throw you a rope, start building it step by step and eventually you will see things that are truly incredible.

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It started as a quick email from my manager.

“Got you this appointment for a men’s magazine. Don’t know what it is yet. Are you available?”

I said,

“Sure! I’ve never been in a magazine before, sounds like fun! I confirm.”

Little did I know it would lead to one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

I go in for the appointment and they tell me right away they are not looking for actors that only do acting. They want real people who do real stuff. So I told them that I do stunts like sword fighting, hand to hand, gun work, rolls, carries, throws, etc. Casting perked up when I said this and became very excited. So I of course started sweating profusely because that happens to me in these moments…go figure.

They took a bunch of pictures of sweaty me from all angles, asked a few more questions, and sent me on my way. As I was leaving the Casting Director called out,

“Has anyone told you what this is for yet?

“No.” I said

“This is for a campaign in GQ. Pretty cool huh?”

“Yeah that is cool. Like really really cool. Thanks so much for having me in!”

I pretty much floated out of the office after that. This was one of the biggest things I had ever been seen for. It was crazy. It was unbelievable. It was fucking GQ! I emailed my manager thanking her for the opportunity and then tried my best to forget it happened.

A week later I get another email,

“Hey Josh, GQ wants you to come into the office and meet everyone. They’ve narrowed it down and want to meet you. Can I confirm you?”

So I said,

“NO FUCKING WAY! Of course I confirm. I confirm a thousand times!”

GQ headquarters is in the new world trade center building, up on the 26th floor. It over looks the 9/11 memorial and is very beautiful. As I stood looking out the giant windows I couldn’t help feeling both horror and total satisfaction, because here I was in a place I knew I would eventually be, and the reality of that scared the hell out of me.

The second round went amazing. I was very well received and everyone seemed to really like me a whole lot. As we were wrapping up I was brought into one of their fitting rooms, because they wanted to take some measurements “just in case” they went with me. Then I left and tried even harder to forget about it.

Two weeks later an email came,

“Josh! They picked you! Can you please pick one of these dates for the fitting?”

I wept like a child when I found out. It was a full on ugly cry. I walked into the kitchen to tell my wife, and was just sputtering sounds and leaking everywhere. I couldn’t believe it. Joshua Schubart the giant bearded man, was going to be in GQ!

The fitting was awesome, but also crazy as hell. Everyone I worked with was great, but I’ve never had five people swarming around me, taking things on and off, and doing all kids of accessorizing. It took about an hour, and was a magical experience.

The shoot day came and I was super excited, so much so that I showed up about two hours early. Which ended up being just fine because they needed to jam a lam on my hair and make up. They worked on me for an hour, doing all sorts of magic to my face and hair. When that was done five people started swarming around me again to get me in my suit and things for the shoot.

The photographer was Peggy Sirota. If you don’t think you know who she is…you do. She has taken every famous persons picture on earth. Most of GQ’s covers are done by her, along with like…everything else. Suddenly it was my turn to go shoot. I walk in and meet Peggy and her team, and just start having fun. We talk about how I do stunts so I start jumping around and being a goofball. She say’s to me,

“Josh, this is great. But just make sure you’re not holding anything back. I would hate for you to regret not doing something today.”

So I said, “Uh…okay…you want me to dance?”

“You dance?”

“You got any Kesha?”

Needless to say they had some Kesha. They put it on and I released the kraken. I blew the place up. The entire room tried to cram themselves into the small studio space to watch me work. People were recording it on their phones and we were all having an incredible time. When it was over Peggy said,

“Josh, you are by far the best male subject I have every photographed.”

“Thank you. That’s amazing.” I said.

Then, just like that, it was over. I was making my way home on cloud nine, because I had let myself be free and have fun. It was one of the biggest moments of my life, and I’m happy to say I met it with confidence. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

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We’ve all done it. We all have thought “When I win my Oscar/Tony/Golden Globe this is what I’m going to say.”I know I have and it usually goes something like this:

“Oh my god this is amazing! I just want to thank my great team, you guys are invaluable. Oh and my wife for sticking it out with me through the slow times…OH OH and the cast you were so amazing and…oh my god I’m crying…and the producers, studio, fart noise, fart noise, other stuff…”

Last week I had some time to kill in between auditions and here is what I would really want to say:

“Thank you so much for this amazing honor. I want to buck tradition a little bit here and talk about something that is truly important to me. This is specifically for all of you coming up now, or those of you who just realized this might be a thing you want to do.

You can do this.

I want you to write this down. Burn it into your brain. Because this might be the only time someone says this to you. People are going to tell you that you can’t or you shouldn’t. “It’s risky.” they’ll say. “You have a stutter, you can’t be an actor if you can’t speak.” they’ll say. They will tell you it’s hard, pointless, and a waste of time. To these people I have one thing to say.

Fuck you.

Anything hard is worth doing I say. If you have trouble speaking, go work on it. If you have trouble moving, go work on it. If you have trouble being you today, go work on it. Doing this art will be the most rewarding and painful experience you will ever have. But I believe in you, and you can do this.”

Always remember, when a person says that you can’t or tells you no. Just smile and thank them, because that’s the kindling. Stoke your fire until it’s so bright, it’s blinding.

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