Tuesday, October 18, 2022

My Inner Mean Girl

When I got the impetus to start a blog geared towards theater teachers who still work towards an acting career, I got so excited; the possibilities felt endless! But then it was about an hour later where my little creativity inspiration high was halted in its tracks. The voice of the ultimate mean girl stepped in, my inner voice of self doubt. "Rachel, you look crazy," she said. She never minces words. "First of all nobody cares about what you have to say, and second of all, what have you even done recently to call yourself an actor and a writer. You're a loser. Maybe you could have been somebody but you're lazy, you procrastinate, you're not a do-er, you're just a dreamer." She was really hitting below the belt! All because I dared to get inspired and make up my mind to act on it...?

She was right about a lot of things. I do tend to procrastinate - I'm working on that - and I haven't done much recently. Maybe I should just give this a second thought before putting myself out there. Then I realized - HELLO! I'm an actress and a HIGH SCHOOL theater teacher, I put myself out there on a regular basis. All I do is put myself out there. So like my mother always taught me, I stood up to the bully, in this case the inner mean girl. After all, this isn't the first time I've met her, we're very well acquainted. 

Our inner mean person doesn't mean us harm, they are actually trying to protect us. My inner mean girl has seen me stumble, she's felt my pain when I've been laughed at, ignored, ridiculed, and overlooked. She never went away when I succeeded, when I got praised, offered roles, or found success because she knows that next rejection is around the corner and she wants to protect me from feeling the pain and embarrassment that I have felt so many times before. What she doesn't know is that I know that rejection is around the corner too, but that is OKAY, it's just a part of life. 

Having a full time job makes it easy to phone it in on the passion career. It's been all too easy to say I'm tired, I'll devote the weekend to my acting, or my next school break, or summer break. I did that for a long time, but then covid happened and I got married twice (one covid wedding one big wedding,) and then I had an incredible baby boy. Life happens, work is inevitable, and time keeps ticking on; seemingly faster every year. So we don't have time for self doubt. That voice, she's not going anywhere, it's taken my whole life for her to grow into the voice that she is and she is here stay. I thank her for her perspective, but I am going to listen to that first voice, the one of ideas, of possibility, of dreams and excitement. After all, now I have a little baby who is watching, who do I want to be for him - mommy who gave up or mommy who made it happen. 

Monday, October 17, 2022

A Blog is Born!


This is my main workspace. In addition to being an actress, I am a New York City public school teacher. 

I proudly teach theater and film at a high school in the South Bronx and I blinked and it suddenly became my 5th year in this “role” no pun intended. 

As I glanced around my block box theater space that I have the fortune of calling my classroom on this sunny October Friday morning, I think of the fact that it took me until this 5th year to say that I proudly teach theater, and for a long time - this was my day job until my acting career took off. But year after year I find myself in classrooms in New York City - which was always a painful reminder that my acting career did not, in fact, take off. 

In the sixteen years since graduating college with my BFA in theater, I’ve held about 25 jobs. I did the thing that most young performers are told to do - I got a job as a waitress, from there I worked as a waitress, hostess, cocktail waitress, bartender, personal trainer, Zumba instructor, realtor, and teaching artist. All of these jobs just to be “support jobs” while I worked on my acting career. In the middle of that, I did manage to earn my Master’s Degree in Theater and English Education. Despite my fancy degree, all of these jobs were dead ends and my acting career never took off, I found myself at a crossroads. I resisted becoming a teacher full time because I saw that as the equivalent of a death stamp on my acting career,  but the weight of juggling multiple part time jobs and amassing debt left me with zero energy for acting. I decided to resort to my plan B - teaching full time. 

In the years since I made that decision, whenever I’d tell people that I teach theater, I’d qualify it with the fact that I’m still pursuing my acting career. I resisted working too hard at work for fear of getting sucked in and as a way to set that boundary that I was still more of an actress than a teacher. 

But having one foot in two different worlds was exhausting. Covid happened, I got married and had a baby, and suddenly starting a new school year felt different to me. I had to accept that I am a theater teacher and not just accept that, but DO something with that. I had to stop making my teaching career my day job and make it the special thing that it is. I decided this year that I’m not a theater teacher by day and an actress by night (aka school breaks and summer) but I am a theater professional. That as a teacher I can share my love for this incredible art form and bring my students into this world, and keep that same energy going into my acting career. 

This cool, sunny, October morning, as I sat down at my desk, I took in this space. This very cool space I get to teach in (as space in New York City classrooms can be packed, I lucked out this year,) and thought - there must be more of you like me? People who have their day job and their passion and hope to one day make their passion their career. This year for the first time, I decided to infuse my passion into me day job and we’ll see where that takes my career. I hope you enjoy reading along as I share my journey actress and educator in New York City and how to balance these two careers…. Or what I like to refer to now as my one career as a performing arts professional. All while also being a mommy and wife! 

Thank you for reading and stay tuned. And remember, passion makes perfect. 

My Inner Mean Girl

When I got the impetus to start a blog geared towards theater teachers who still work towards an acting career, I got so excited; the possib...