So as I write this I find myself at a crossroads both personally and professionally and I thought it might be a decent idea to write a brief retrospective on how I came to where I am now. While the idea is to give both myself and whoever is interested a perspective in my path from dabbler to someone who is now legitimately staking it out as my career, I understand that this whole essay could just be a belabored exercise in navel gazing, and if that doesn't strike you as in any way at all interesting then abandon all hope ye who enter here. I'll be back to the usual self promotion next post. For the rest: the curious, the bored, or those whose browser back buttons no longer work, let's begin.
When I was about four years ago I started playing the cello. One of my earliest memories was at my very first cello concert I stood up in front of an audience, took a bow and sat down on my chair. Well, except for that last part. With my back to her my cello teacher had moved the chair and when I went to sit down little four year old Brooks fell flat on my bottom and the entire hall exploded with laughter.
I remember being overwhelmed. Whatever happened with me and my cello playing "Go Tell Aunt Rosie", I, little not-quite-kindergarten me, made an entire room break into laughter. I remember beaming with pride and delight.
I've never had stage fright since then. The truth is, the audience wants to love you. They want to be entertained. Even if you fall flat on your ass as long as you own it, they'll love you even more. I think this very early experience made me into an actor.
For a long time my love of writing warred with my love of acting. Writing, was to me, respectable, worthy of praise. That was the path I wanted. It was also really lonely and hard.
Acting on the other hand was easy, at least relatively so, for me. I felt more comfortable performing for a gymnasium full of captive teenagers than I did conversing with them one on one. I think a lot of performers feel this way.
Still through my brief pass at college, while I spent most of my time exclusively performing in plays, I never thought it worth study or any serious thought. Acting was simply what I did in my off hours. It was fun and rewarding but it wasn't serious.
After a financially disasterous year spent interning at a theater company, I moved back home to Wyoming both broke and without any life skills.
I gradually got back to into acting, performing in several shows at the local community theater, many productions of which I'm still very proud of to this day. The skills to cope with every day life however continued to elude me.
After a bit of a crisis I moved to be near the other half of my family in Boston. It was here that I realized that not only were there many theaters around the area, but most of them actually paid you to perform with them.
This started to cause a fundamental shift in my mindset. I always prided myself on being a capable and versatile performer but as more and more professional companies started casting me in increasingly varied and challenging roles, I started thinking of myself not just as a guy who acted in his off hours, but as a professional working actor.
Of course the problem is that theater doesn't pay terribly well and while I've gotten to perform in a few decently paying gigs, even those shows wouldn't merit a livable wage compared to the amount of rehearsal and performance hours they require.
I'm not knocking theater. Truly the best acting experiences of my life have been with theater and nothing beats seeing a great production live. Moreover the sheer amount of extremely talented actors working in the Boston theater scene is overwhelming.
However recently I've started branching out to doing more film and commercial work. It's a tricky thread to see because often times film shoots will be announced spontaneously and require a full day's commitment which is an impossibility if you're already in rehearsals or performing a show.
However recently I've felt the impulse to take a break from theater. I've been so lucky since coming here, and I've generally been averaging about five to six shows a year. Frankly I've spent the past fifteen years of my life doing nothing but theater. I may not have received training as an actor but I've earned some chops doing close to fifty separate productions. I think I'm ready for a different challenge.
I started auditioning for a local casting agency, Boston Casting, about a year and a half ago, but with the exception of a short film (which premiers at the Woods Hole Film Festival next week!), I didn't start getting cast until this past January. Since then it's been a slow but steady trickle. Right now if you look at my resumé you'll see eight credits evenly divided between the commercial and industrial categories. (one more coming up!) If you'd looked at it seven months ago those segments wouldn't even exist, let alone have anything underneath them.
Moreover through the advocacy of one of the casting directors I have secured Andrew Wilson as my agent, a smart, funny, and knowledgeable guy who I am thrilled to be teaming up with.
Of course this is a mercurial business and while these projects (certainly on an hourly basis) provide a greater sense of material validation than theater I haven't quite struck it as a career, but for the first time I feel I'm moving in a sustainable direction.
I can't wait to see what the future holds, and I certainly don't plan on stopping theater all together, and I still plan on performing as much as possible. That may mean, however, doing more improv and stand up, two avenues I haven't gotten to explore because of my comityments to theater.
I'll be sure to plug upcoming projects and releases here. You can of course follow me on Twitter and Facebook as well. Thanks for reading.