An Actor’s Reprieve

David Mao

Reprieve, according to Merriam-Webster, reprieve is

“to delay the punishment of (someone, such as a prisoner who is sentenced to death). : to prevent (something) from being closed, destroyed, etc.”

Pretty strong words, I’m not sure I would say that pursuing an acting career is punishment but there is something to be said about those periods of auditions, callbacks, and cattle calls that end with no work, that feel like it.

In early December, I made the decision to take a break. December is crazy time, I was taking an acting class, carpooling the children to school, keeping up on my Mommy duties, and caregiving. This does not even include the incessant business that occurs during the holidays of finding the time to shop for family and friends, attend parties, concerts and those Christmas cards that must arrive by New Year’s Eve.

By taking a break, I mean, not auditioning. As an Artist, you can never take a complete break from your passion. I continued to watch plays, TV, write, read (Oh, how I love to read) and learn more about photography. The auditioning aspect of the job is what tends to drain you over time because of the rejections. I know you are not to take it personally, but after awhile of not getting a role, you can’t help it, you do start to question yourself.

Mark Ruffalo said he had 600 auditions before success. On AMC’s roundtable, you hear some of the most talented actors in the business discuss those dark days, months, and sometimes even years of not getting a role. During these times, these interviews and expressions from other Artists is what keeps you going. You see, even those with overwhelming talent find it hard.

The break has been beautiful, I focused on my family and the holiday ritual. I focused on my photography, continuing to take classes and learning to work with Photoshop. I read and also watched a lot of new programming that I normally don’t have as much time for. I read, read and read: relished in having the time to.

As soon as January hit, I was ready to get back out there. Went on my first audition and loved the opportunity to read with other actors, to connect, to play, to breathe. I’ve signed up for an actor’s workshop that will consist of meditating and writing. I’m helping fellow artist’s with staged readings, alerting them of casting calls, and monthly meetings to touch base and help each other thrive when those “down time” arrive and stay for a little while.

I have also decided to keep a regimen with my photography by joining a weekly challenge. The assignment will keep me behind the camera so that I can grow as a photographer and view the world from a different perspective.

No matter how crazy all of this gets, there really is nothing else I’d rather do.

Happy New Year,

Isabel

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