For those of you who think you might throw in the towel because "I don't have an agent" or "I can't get work" or "no one seems interested in my talent" - here is an excerpt from an inspiring interview on Playbill today with Anika Larsen, who is premiering an autobiographical musical that she wrote and is starring on (and who also has a bunch of Broadway credits to her name:)
Question: What was your first professional production here?
Larsen: My first Equity job was — I got a call on a Tuesday from Rent saying, "On Friday, could you be in L.A. to join the L.A. company?," and of course I said yes.
Question: Where had you auditioned for the show?
Larsen: I had auditioned in New York City and I was living in New York City, but they needed an immediate replacement in L.A. I had done the whole thing with Rent, where everybody auditions eight times and it doesn't seem like you're ever going to get it, so I had sort of given up. This business is so crazy. I got this call, and three days later I had to move my life and my world. But, of course, I did it — it was Rent!
Question: Tell me about how Shafrika came to be.
Larsen: Shafrika came after I had finished doing Rent on Broadway and thought, "Alright, I've been on Broadway. I've made it. Now what?" I didn't work again for two years. I couldn't even get an agent, which is so crazy. "But I've proven that I can make money. I've proven I can do this," and still I couldn't get an agent. It was the first time I realized that there's no such thing as making it and coasting. It's always a hustle. Every job is finite. You're always going to be looking for work the rest of your life, which is a wearying thought and is what, I think, sort of weeds out a lot of people.... [Then there are] those of us who are a little screwy in the head enough to feel like, "There's nothing else that I can do, so I have to keep pressing on."
Some of you might say, "Wait- she was struggling and struggling... how is that inspiring?"
For me, it is inspiring because all you ever hear about are those people who "make it" as soon as they move to NY or LA, or those who walk into their first agent's office and get signed on the spot, but for most of us, that is not how it works. It is inspiring to hear that most people have to hustle, just like us, and if you work hard and don't let the hustle get you down, you CAN make a career for yourself. Will you be rich and famous? Maybe, maybe not. But you CAN call yourself a working actor and live your dream.
Anika also said:
Larsen: I think it was Jonathan Larson's sister who said, when she accepted his Tony for him after he died, "It took Jonathan 35 years to become an overnight success." I think that's more realistically the way it happens. A lot of us have just been out there and paying our dues and pounding the pavement to make it happen.
And... if you struggle with finding folks who will champion your work- make your own work. Find a way. If you don't write, find someone who will do it with you. There are LOTS of people dying to collaborate. Don't wait for someone else to steal your spotlight- create one for yourself!
For the full interview go to Playbill.com
Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out http://www.theactorsenterprise.org.