Twice in the last two weeks, I got the chance to sing.
The circumstances couldn’t have been more different. The first was a promotional gig for Oreo, in which I was one of 500 a cappella singers who took to the streets to sing Oreo’s new jingle for New Yorkers during their morning commute. I did that job to get paid. (I do love cookies and cream ice cream the MOST, but in general Oreos are not a consistent part of my healthy food life).
The second opportunity was for a musical theatre composition workshop called BMI. I was asked to be a part of a first-year final project, as part of a spooky Andrews-sisters type trio in a 12-minute sci-fi piece. With 3 rehearsals leading up to the show, it was only meant to be a rough presentation. We wore coordinating black dresses as costumes. I didn’t get paid a dime.
The last month or so has been really difficult for me in terms of my acting career. As a new member of the union, I am only now realizing how crowded the market is, and how much the arts are still suffering from the economic downturn. I haven’t been in a paying show in about a year. I’ve thought of solutions ranging from starting my own theater company to relocating somewhere foreign and teaching English. It’s a hard path to follow. You know you work hard and that you “have what it takes”- whatever that means. But as the weeks creep on into months, doubt sneaks in. Is it your vocals? Your acting choices? Your new haircut or your choice of audition dress? The hardest work I have ever done is to remind myself everyday that all of those answers are NO.
But I got the chance to sing. I was able to sing with others who have chosen some version of this artistic way for their lives as well. Dedicated, talented professionals. Sure, we were at the Oreo gig for the money- but we are also all in this for the love.
I love singing. I love being a part of making music. I love the indescribable power that music has to take you beyond yourself, to emotional peaks and valleys that speech could never transmit. I didn’t realize how much I had been missing.
I haven’t come up with the 10 point plan to guarantee myself a Broadway show- not yet anyway. I have no idea where I will be a year from now (except probably writing this blog!). But I am holding on to the simple truth I was in danger of forgetting- I still, with all my heart, love the thing I have chosen to do with my life. For today, I can let that be enough.