Attitude of Gratitude

In an interview  he did with me,  Travis ‘Little T’ Turner  quoted his mom. ‘You’ve got to have an attitude of gratitude’.

It’s resonated and stuck with me (proving that students can always teach the teachers).

It’s so easy to get caught up in the insanity that is the day to day life of the struggling to work actor that we forget to take pause and realize how fortunate we actually are.  It’s kind of a joke that we get to play for a living. YES it’s hard work and ‘struggle’ is a completely accurate description.  There have been times in my life as an actor that I’ve wanted to give up.  Times when I had no money for food, and was riddled with self doubt, and saw no clear path for my life, and felt lost, afraid and alone. I’m grateful for those times.  They certainly taught me what it takes, what I have and why I do this:  I love it.  I’m grateful to live in a time and place where it’s actually possible to do what you love.  I pretend for a living.  Silly really. Isn’t that GREAT?

If you even have the OPTION of considering this craft as a career you are blessed beyond the vast majority of the population.  Be grateful.

This is why it grates on me when I hear actors complaining.

I was at an audition a couple weeks back for Alcatraz, JJ Abrams’ latest show, being shot in Vancouver.  I was lucky enough to be one of the six actors given the opportunity to audition out of at least a thousand in this city who could easily be real options for casting of the role. It was a ‘small’ role.  5 or 6 lines from an incidental character in a procedural drama.  There to help move the story along for a brief moment, then gone.  Forgettable.

I was ‘on deck’, and the actor ahead of me comes out and as he exits rather than bidding the standard ‘good luck fellas’ to the rest of the room, he begins to mock the acting, the part itself.  “BEST acting I’ve ever done!  But you’d never know for such a small role….” etc etc.

I found myself thinking “How dare you?”  How dare you shit all over the gift of opportunity you’ve been handed:  To live where you do, to have the opportunity to support yourself as an actor to be one of the 0.6% who are called in to get the chance to work on a massive show, grow your profile, and did i mention: WORK!

Grow up.  Be Grateful.

I’m an acting teacher – I can’t help but zero in on the heart of the human motivation behind actions.  I know this gentleman was behaving this way because he either did a bad audition, is feeling down on his life and where he thought he’d be, or times are tough and he’s trapped, or something of the like.  I submit, however, that the remedy for any or all of these shortcomings is my friend Travis’s mom’s maxim:  ‘Have an attitude of gratitude’.

It doesn’t serve an actor or indeed anyone in any pursuit to be anything but grateful.  Anything less is really just unconsciously feeding the excuse monster.  The gentleman was afraid and gave himself excuses to pull back.

Gratitude will keep you humble, which will keep you focussed and working which will keep you moving which will get you where you need to go.

Thank you for reading, and thanks to the insecure gentleman for giving me the perspective.

Didn’t book the #@*(&$ part btw. :)

2 comments

  • Sherman Hu

    Brilliant insight, Jeb!

    This applies to anyone who finds themselves in a position of doing work of passion – not just acting, or enjoyment, or heck, any type of work that provides for a decent lifestyle for them and/or family. To have an attitude of gratitude and thanks gives us pause for what really matters, and to see ourselves in this grander picture called Life.

    Plus, I know being thankful and counting blessings helps eradicate the “Woe is me!” selfish poison.

    I’m grateful to know the Actor’s Foundry, Matthew Harrison and you support and promote ‘collaboration’ amongst actors, instead of competition, and to create your own work, instead of only vying for the work from the studios. It’s a healthier option (physically, mentally, spiritually, financially) and an effective antidote for insecurity, self-doubt and insanity!

    Cheers Jeb, hope to read more of your insights!

  • Jane Hancock

    Thank you Jeb!
    An amazing reminder to have. Especially when it can sometimes just feel like a thunderstorm of grief trying to make it in this industry.
    I too, am so grateful for The Actors Foundry and all the teachers who inspire me to live a more joyous and fulfilling life!
    Even though it can be tough to be grateful for where we are, when we feel lost, I honestly do agree it’s better and I want to live like that.

    Thanks, I really needed to read this today!

    Jane

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