Updated: Nov 17

What you had was a fire as a kid, you loved performing, you loved to act-but you went to school because you had a lot of work to do. Both inside and outside You did the work, you matured and you are now ready to learn how to actually be an actor. But you find yourself in your mid 20s, what do you do?

Well first, if you don’t have many acting opportunities around you-you move to somewhere where you do. Do as much work as you possibly humanly physically emotionally intellectually creatively can. Because only then will you have even a baseline of understanding about how to act. Now you must learn. More. And more. For me it was improv, small skits/one day plays on a stage and then going to the streets to do short or student films or indie films or internals or spokesman job teleprompter jobs hosting jobs, literally any kind of acting job. Not stand over there and look pretty jobs, acting. One hat on then throw it off and put another one on. That’s acting I learned a lot. I got to release myself. Got to live in my ego. Connect with material and people. Its so much fun. The people I was always working with were great and afterward the next morning I’d go act in something else. All small productions, mostly. Pilots, indie films, student films, internals, testimonials, shorts. You name it. Because that’s what is available to you. Do as much as you possibly can. Because you learn. For me it was everything that I needed to do. For you, you may find another way that works for you. Every actor is unique just like every person is and every actor is different. Today the acting world is so much different, because the rules of it have been entirely rewritten now that sag and aftra merged And film has become so insulated. Union loosened some rules, allowed their ranks to swell far past their ability to make sure work was there. But the union is not in existence to provide an actor with work. The union exists to protect us The union exists to make sure you get paid, fed. The union exists to ensure that dedicated craftspeople only work with professional actors. That’s all the union is there to do. It’s protection. It’s family. And those who are members of it have paid their dues for a reason. The old world way an actor would break out would be to stay far away from background, but in this new world-background is a necessary evil for most young, and old actors alike.

Yesterday It used to be that productions would never look to background talent, but that rule isn’t true anymore as productions will still hire you for a principle role, if you give them a reason to. This is why Im disappointed when I hear young actors project their uncertainty about union. The union isn’t the thing holding you back, it never is. Unless you joined without any experience at all. I do everything I can because I always will do everything I can-until I can’t physically work anymore. The day I can say no to something isn’t really what I’m working toward, because I doubt I will ever say no to anyone who wants to work with me. Unless the role is just not something I could do. But on the main, if a director wants to work with me-I want to work with them. It’s a privilege. That’s the effect of moving to New York City and getting a start at fulfilling your purpose. You grow, you learn. Your objectives change, priorities.

So right now everything in me is always focused on improving any element of my craft or of my person. I’m focused on proving myself worthy of not just principle roles but a principle acting career. A sustained one. That’s why I moved to NYC. I didn’t join when I could. I took the time, I got the experience I had to get. I learned all of its capacities. It takes time. And lots of sacrifice. Developing yourself as an actor Is not easy. I still am. But if you are an actor, everything will be worth it.

Every one of our choices matter, in life, not only to us but to those that surround us, rely on us, look to us, lean on us. Our choices matter. Our words matter. What we do with our lives matters, a lot. I could never live with myself if I didn’t just act. I’d always know I didn’t live up to my potential. But choosing to be an actor made me a whole person. I’m happier now.

The reality of tv/film business now is not what those in 70s/80s/90s and early part of century dealt with. Streaming has upended everything. The union merging created a whole lot more new noise we as actors had to navigate around, and in some cases through. I couldn’t call myself an actor without going out there and acting. Doing what I’ve been doing. I feel better now. I always had bad angels in my shoulder yelling at me before I moved to NYC. They’re all gone now. I’m actually happy. I’m content. I couldn’t be any happier when I’m on set. Creating with other creatives. That one time I got a trailer. I was never happier. Because I was free. I could just create. I could just be. When I’m in front of the lens is where I feel the most at home. It’s where I am the calmest. I love being in front of the lens. And I’m very happy I chose to be. Even as an adult. You could too. If you had that same fire. It’s never too late.

*If we had a competent federal government run by a competent human being-this is what our national response would have looked like*

In early February The President would have gotten on a call with the nations governors, telling them about the threat that is incoming, and already here in certain places. State governments would have then notified businesses that changes to their business practices needed to be implemented 2 weeks from now or else you have to shut your business down. Local governments would have gotten notified and put on alert, schools would have been let out. Meantime, the federal governments immense resources were being mobilized not only to develop a national testing strategy, but to ensure we had enough equipment nationwide, and to make room for the sick and homeless in facilities. State governments would have worked with businesses, with the monitoring of the federal government, to ensure best practices were being developed for each business that were deemed compliant to keep their business open. Other businesses, bars for example, would stand no chance. They’d have to close, but the suddenness of it all back in March would have been minimized and it’s effects not as striking. That same night The President would have addressed the nation, again this is early February. Prime time address. The President would have told us what our government knew at the time, that we had an airborne virus 3 times more potent than the flu, and that we had no vaccine, and we do not know where it’s coming from yet or how exactly. We know it’s transmitted through the air-so we will have to shut the entire nation down. Remember, back in February. Any american overseas would have been quarantined in place, until department of state deemed viable for them to return home safely. At this point our entire air and sea tourism industry would be shut down, along with bars. But that’s about it. Schools would probably have had to let kids out early still, but they would have had the time to develop best practices to either return early and finish work that was still left to be done and start the new school year on time. The rest of businesses not bars would have been working on plans to keep themselves open and operational. Again, some would have HAD to shutter. But business owners would have been informed a full 6 weeks before they entered. To be informed at the first week of February that our lives were about to enter uncharted territory, that the economy was gong to take a hit-and that millions may be out of work because of this.

We would have had time to prepare, we would have had time to breathe, to think, to appreciate, and to fight.

Instead what did we get?

We got a government who politicized public health, your and mine safety. Our parents safety. Our government then tried to blame other countries for their own ineptitude and slowness. Our government still takes zero responsibility for the job that is right now solely theirs to do. To say that this has upended as administration would be an understatement, but really it just highlights the unfitness for office that I and so many other cabinet officials have been saying since his first day on the job. The man who is currently our president is not up to the job. Say what you will about him personally, politically or otherwise. But the man did not do his job when the single biggest global event of the last 2 decades hit. It has sent ripples of shock through every layer of American life. The economy, people’s perception of their government, people’s patriotism, people love of country, people desire to want to work harder-everything. Having a corrupt man corrupt the government and then corrupt and cripple the governments ability to protect and help us out of the single biggest economical calamity of a century. It’s abhorrent. The man who currently holds the title of commander in chief is beneath the capability and dignity of our government. He has brought our entire government down, along with his ego. He thinks investigations are unfair. What’s unfair is to vote for someone who then uses the government to try to get everything he wants, to try to protect himself at the expense of all others and to be so angry confused conflicted and paranoid-all because you know you voted for a con man. He was watching television while he was supposed to be working. For us. Now that’s unfair, and that’s what Donald J Trump did to America. To us. All of us. The executive branch has a solemn duty to inform and to care, both of which this man failed at.

  • Chris Banks

Tenet is having me think a lot about our choices we make as humans, alive, on this planet. The older I get the more disappointed I am with what I see around me. It’s because of choices. A film like Tenet, I think, makes us all see that every one of our choices effect every subsequent decision. IE, our reality. What gets me super disappointed about what I see around me the older I get is the degradation of civility, decency, sacrifice, selflessness, knowledge, service and debate. It scares me. Deeply. Our nation was founded and has endured because of the intellect, hunger, drive, love and character of us, Americans. What I’m seeing today is the opposite of all of that. Immigrants of the 19th 20th and early 21st century, the first thing they did was name their children ‘American’ names, and learn English. Today, I’m seeing immigrants not even try, because everyday Americans disrespect immigrants AND natives. It’s disgusting. It’s entirely counter to who we are as Americans to be treating our neighbors with less respect than we expect ourselves. This has nothing to do with political party. What scares me more is the loss of family and community. Again, not party. I see if first hand in my own family, and in what used to be my own community. It affects so many things, systems, society, and lives. People have a hard time thinking critically. Today it’s because of our broken politics the internet and willing refusal to adhere to the facts.

That’s a problem for democracy.

That’s a problem for a free and open society. That’s a problem for health-

It’s a problem because it isn’t who we are. It’s not who Americans have ever been. So why are choosing to be so small now? Why are we choosing to be so selfish now? Why aren’t we seeing the truth? Why are we so angry? I think I know why. Everyone’s life is hard. I mean, if you aren’t a celebrity or have inherited your wealth. Couch cough Mr President. But even celebrities lives are hard. Can YOU imagine to constantly keep up with ever increasing and changing demands? Because that’s what happens when your life is not private. Everyday Americans love their privacy. Everyday Americans see a false promise in wanting that fame or monetary success. That’s not something to want. Even though it’s natural to want it, especially in this country. A smile, a thank you, reciprocated respect, a desire to ... again, a compliment, a good review, a person who knows more now than they did before you opened your mouth-this is what you want. This is what our collective compass needs to be set to. Not material wealth, abstractically understood. People are completely and utterly lost. Drowning, in not only a sea of information but also a sea of despair. We close ourselves off. It’s caused by being so confused, so conflicted. We can’t be conflicted as humans, we show it. We show signs of our spirit being in conflict with what our bodies are doing. Depression, chemical abuse (booze, drugs, pills), behavioral issues. This is how we wear our confliction. You’ll never be in synch or in harmony by following noise, or the crowd or by creating more noise. You won’t be in so much conflict with yourself once you start knowing yourself, listening to yourself, allowing yourself the space to hear what the world, what life is telling you. Life is always talking to us. Most of us are too busy listening to ourselves than listening to this vibration. Once you start doing what you are telling yourself you want to do, you won’t be in so much conflict with yourself. You’ll be happier. You’ll feel lighter. And hey, our country won’t be so insanely all over the place! Powerful forces are aware of this. They are preying on your confusion, on your laziness, on your past. We can’t even go to the corner store without being in fear, in some way, about something. That’s horeshit. That’s not America. That’s what WE have done to her. That IS America for far too many of our black and brown brothers and sisters. That’s why you see so many protests, for so many generations. It’s time we start using more critical thought and making better decisions for our lives. This isn’t politics. It’s the only way our country will get any better. The internet, wealth gaps and corporate bailouts have sent a mental shockwave through most Americans. It’s time we allow that to subside to better be able to focus on what needs to be done now, not just to satisfy my own desires, but to help the country.

Inversely, we must focus on what needs to be done within ourselves-rather then project it out, onto the country. This is not politics. Politics is not a place to deal with or attempt to heal pain. You will just get more hurt when you engage in a political space. So until you’re healed, tread carefully with politics.

The film industry has a particular role to play in the healing of America. The healing of our collective. Because that’s what the film industry does best. The film industry saved my life. When i was 13, i wasn’t headed down a particularly productive path. That’s also the year I met my friends that i still call my friends today. I was new to their school. We went to the movies every week. We saw everything. Even movies we didn’t want to see. Why? Because we were together. We weren’t on the street. We weren’t doing anything but drinking soda laughing or crying or yelling or just in awe of whatever story we were digesting that day. We would talk endlessly about them afterward. I miss this a lot. An entire segment of our culture is missing. It’s dead. People are staying inside their houses, either too afraid of what awaits outside those walls or making less of everyone outside of them. We have an inflated sense of self. I’m not sure where it comes from either, I think it’s just because we are Americans and see Wealth we see excess so we naturally want that. It’s just unnatural for everyone to obtain it. It won’t happen. Entire generations of Americans have been and are still being born with material success as meaning the same things as spiritual success, cultural success, or familial success. Instead of making riches our objective, focus on loving what you are doing, on purpose, on connection, hard work and doing things for other people. This is how we pull ourselves out from ourselves max into the world we inhabit. We need to heal as Americans. It’s critical. It’s necessary. That means a return to the theatre. Because we are at our happiest when we are immersed in another world. Human beings are creatures of story. We are made to tell them and to hear them. They are as deeply embedded in our DNA as the color of our eye given to us by one of our parents. Hollywood must wake up to this, and reprioritize. We need films that MUST be made. We need films that challenge people. That illuminate for people. That reach people, to teach people-we need to make a connection. For too long Hollywood has been ignoring that component of art and story telling. I get it though, we have to survive. We have to make money. But now as we find ourselves in the ashes and rubble of what was, can’t now be a time of rejuvenated commitment to the idea that certain films just have to be made. Isn’t that the true reason for a company like Miramax to succeed? They made great movies! Entirely detached from the evil of the man who started and ran it. But the objective must remain. If you read a script that makes you react and makes you want to see the film, it has to be made. And stop letting these smaller studios eat up these movies. Studies like A24 are what I’m talking about. Focused on rich, good and important stories. Ones that HAVE to be made. Hollywood has gotten complacent with super heroes. Americans have caught on and have stopped spending their hard earn dollars where they don’t feel appreciated, listened to. Americans don’t see themselves in the films that are being made outside of the super hero comic book realm. That doesn’t mean they don’t have to be made, it means that the connection with the audience needs to be prioritized. Stories must be better. Truer. From us. We will not survive without it. America will not survive. We must heal as a people, as a nation-from the horrors and scars the last few years have left upon all of our skin. Our American skin. It’s deeper than our race skin. It’s in our blood. Our hearts. We know better than this, we know better than just about everything that has been going on since we decided to roll the dice on a celebrity con man. Now we must never allow ourselves to become complacent again, to make sure we never again give a con man a wide open lane to drive our collective car right off the bridge. Because it’s entertaining to him. It’s hurt tremendously. Because everyone is now hurt. But I hope that the depth of the pain makes us all deeply wake up, account for the civic shortcomings we posses and work to be more knowledge, thoughtful, and to work for something outside of myself. I always remember Mr. John Lewis. I always will. You don’t have to be a member of Congress, or get arrested to be a proactive American citizen. All you have to do is vote. I hope I can lend a hand in the rejuvenation of the American theatre, the renaissance of community-and a brighter American future, for all.



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