I was running through the neighborhood. It was my daily run. Something I did to push out all my anxiety and frustration. As any actor can tell you, pursuing an acting career is one hell of a discouraging journey. But it can also be incredibly gratifying. Checking off on your check list is one of them.
This summer I had laid out many specific goals in order to have a possible chance to audition for the upcoming Star Wars film. I’d attended casting director workshops, many of whom had even the smallest connection to J.J. Abrams. I finally created my first actor’s website, and now have only a few more checkmarks left. One of them was creating my first actor’s reel, which I’m still waiting on doing. Another was my admittance letter to SAG-AFTRA actor’s union, something that would make my profession as an actor much more legitimate. And then, if all went well, I could have a better chance at an audition for Star Wars VII.
I had submitted a proof of eligibility form, but didn’t hear from SAG-AFTRA for over a month. So I called and discovered I had submitted the wrong for to the wrong place. Go figure. That’s typical of me. I never got accepted into the Tisch school of NYU because I didn’t complete the entire application. I’ve learned to always call because of this mistake. I submitted the correct form to the correct location, but still waited anxiously. I had read plenty of forums on how long people wait for SAG to get back to them. I was expecting to wait 6 months. But I was hoping that because of the joining of the two unions, SAG and AFTRA, things would be different.
And so I ran. Ran to get it out of my system, to feel stronger, to exhale out my anger and inhale new hope. I ran past the mail lady driving through our neighborhood and pushed the thought of “mail” out of my mind. I slowed down when two horses nearly bolted from the sight of me going by. I ran up the steep hill, feeling the beating sun sucking the sweat from me, passed through the hillside path, and came out on the other side of the neighborhood, back to my home street. And there was the mail lady again and the two horses I’d frightened.
Maybe there was mail for me this time. This was my daily regiment. Hoping I had a special envelope waiting for me. I felt 18 again, waiting to be accepted into something I wanted desperately. I waved to the mail lady and ran straight home to our box, opened it up and grabbed a large envelope that was reminiscent of what I mailed out. “James Riva” it said. One of my roommates. As per usual, not for me.
I collected the rest of the mail in disappointment, beads of sweat finally able to run down my face without the sun taking it from me, and pretty much accepting I’d have to find another way to get into the union. I walked in the door, enjoying the coolness of the house and sorted out our mail. SAG-AFTRA for James. SAG-AFTRA for Heather. SAG-AFTRA for Heather again. One more for James. Another one for Heather. Another one for Christanna—
Wait—what?! Oh God! I clutched the envelope like a baby and, like anyone, I was apprehensive about opening it, as if the letter would kindly say, “no.”
And then, of course, I ripped it open…
As you can imagine, I pretty much did laps around the house, bellowing at the top of my lungs.
It’s more than an incredible feeling when you can check something off the list of things to accomplish. It rejuvenates you, encourages you to keep going and fight for what you want. Even the smallest things, like this letter, can boost a person’s life to a whole-nother incredible level.
And this was a BIG checkmark for me. That’s one wall down, just a few more to go…