A new year is upon us. It's January 17, 2023. I know. I can hardly believe it myself. Does that make me sound old? Well, if it does then it makes you sound old too. Not that that's a bad thing. With age comes expertise, expertise experience and experience wisdom. I hope.
Here's a little experience I've culled during one of my trips around the sun. Show biz is ephemeral. It naturally bursts with frenetic energy, rolls into temporary community and trifles with underemployment. But, I also learned that, sometimes, one makes a connection that survives the panic of finding the next job. When that happens it's as much a surprise as, well, getting the next job.
Last summer I was doing a play called Trouble The Water. I won't rehash the brilliant idea, exquisite timing or legacy of meaning that play engendered, but I will hash the audience a little. Some of my co-conspirators from The Vakarian Star came to see a performance. That in an of itself is an honor and a joy. Among them was our director of photography, Al Bouchillon. Notable since the story was heavily African American and Al, like me, is not. I expected to see my director and producer at some point, both of whom are African American, but Al was a surprise.
Before I get too much further, I've been confused lately about racial terminology. I don't want to offend anyone because, frankly, skin pigmentation doesn't mean a damn thing. Certainly no reason to offend anyone. So, I asked my African American friends. "Black is fine," I was told. "So is African American. As long as it's not derogatory." There it is in a nutshell. Don't be a prick. And by prick, I mean racist.
Back to Al. Just today I received an Insta message his 2023 reel is live. Naturally, I watched. And, it's terrific. Not only because I'm in it (should I call my lawyer? Just kidding), but because Al's really good at what he does. It was a pleasure to watch. And I told him. Which he liked. (https://www.albouchillon.com/).
Now, Al and I haven't seen each other since we finished filming, except for the aforementioned play. Would that be enough to call a person friend in any other field of enterprise? I doubt it. But, in show biz terms, we are. And it's great to be friends with such a talented guy.
When ephemeral is a condition of employment I suppose one gets used to it. I often take myself out of my "norm" and wonder what other people think. Then I remember. I already know.
Actors, and by extension anyone in the business, are nuts. Why would anyone do this? Near constant rejection. Near absence of a paycheck, no benefits, no stability. Nothing. And, they're right. Except for the burning in the stomach that says I have to. Damn the torpedoes. I can't not.
There it is. The thing that makes an ephemeral community maybe just a bit more than it seems. Abject fear disguised as unreasonable confidence. Everything's gonna be all right. God's got this and so do I. So we work. To get work. To stand in line, to meet, to meet people. To make friends.
Maybe the best we can hope is that we were helpful to someone as they traversed the fluctuation of our profession. I've said it before, but I'll say it here, sometimes doing something for your career means helping others. Because, who couldn't use a little help from their friends?
Blessings, all. Write again soon.