• Chris Banks

On my crash course in the concrete jungle

Updated: May 23

Getting to experience how Michael Keaton works was an extremely satisfying experience for me. Observing him, studying how he did his thing when he was on set- that’s how I knew I made the right decision in joining the union.

Was I too quick joining? Sure. Maybe.

But I’d rather be too quick is appraising my value than too late relying on someone else’s judgement.

But I am starving for work,

I’m starving for direction.

I’m starving for something to study.

All I want to do is act. That’s why I moved from Southie anyway. That’s why I’m here.

I moved to NYC and for the majority of time lived as a working actor, doing any job that came to me.

Nothing about it was easy, and everything about it contributed to my growth.

None of this was pay to play, I just worked as an actor. Doing all kinds of jobs. None of it was in a classroom.

And to me, all of this added up to the same stuff I saw in other working actors who were more experienced than me on a stage. This made me satisfied with my decision to join even though I know it’s not the path my manager wanted me to take. The fact he even keeps me on his roster is something I am extremely grateful for.

So I think what I should do now is to keep improving myself through an intensive or workshop, or maybe just getting to contribute to a play.

All kinds of possibilities and all sorts of excitement surround each. I just want to go from work to work. Set to set. I’m so grateful for the people I get to meet and to share with and listen to, not to mention learn from!

In order to do what I want to I must invest in myself..

I want to be the best and most capable actor that I possibly can be. I always have. Until I was on set the first time I was scared, busy going to school, and learning who I was (not to mention having zero self confidence)

And I had A LOT of in front of the camera work to do before I could actually consider JOINING the SCREEN actors guild. I’m always surprised when I hear people who have zero screen experience joining the union for screen actors.

But Like a lot of inexperienced actors, I found myself sag eligible very early on when I got to NYC, 2 months actually. This kind of skewed my opinion of what I should do in order to survive in the city. I thought if I just stayed on set rather than pretending to like my day job- I would be fulfilling my promise to myself that I was leaving Boston to be an actor.

Of course, that’s not true. And now I know that i will always be an actor, regardless of whether im on set or not. Of course, I could’ve stayed doing non union gigs, and there are plenty in the city- I was working an average of two different jobs per week. I was juggling this script, that script. But sometimes I wasn’t fed, or i had to chase someone in order to pay me, or just the director didn’t have a clue of what he was doing. I was done dealing with all of that stuff. I was ready for bigger. I was ready for more, so much more. I felt like I did enough non union gigs last a lifetime lol.

So that’s when I joined the union. And I guess, looking back, once I was comfortable with my ability and what is demanded of an actor and the lens, that’s when I decided to join SAG. I felt like I was ready to compete with the best in the world.

And I was right

I’ve made more money in the time I’ve been in the union (4 months) than I did in the entirety of last year. And I’ve had a lot of auditions I am extremely grateful for.

And so the story goes, as with most young actors.

I took the leap and moved to NYC the way I did because I had to.

Until that point in my life I woke up everyday with an immense internal conflict. And i never knew what it was until my first day on a movie set.

I had to act.

I had to just act.

I had to get in here.

I had to get in front of the lens.

When I left Southie on a hot July morning chalk full of nerves I could not imagine how much would explode all around me once I got to the city, and if definitely took me back.

But all of it made me the artist I am today.

The thing I’m extraordinarily grateful for are the opportunities that I have had and the people I have met and have gotten to learn from. Nobody will ever be able to replace those things, or take it away from a poor only Irish kid from Southie who picked up with only few hundred bucks and a pillow and left for the bright lights-to fulfill a promise to himself.

Be an actor, be who you are - be yourself.

———————-

The work is still on going. I will never be a finished product, but always a work in progress. Each encounter or experience makes an impression on me. I learn from everyone. I just hope I have the ability and the opportunities to meet as many people all across this world as my heart is capable of letting in. I love all of us, our differences. All of us have our own story, our own struggle.

I hope to hear as much and bring those who I am capable of bringing out from the darkness of mind.

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