Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Free at last

Today I quit.

For better or worse, I am now a professional actor. Woo-hoo!

I took the opportunity to celebrate by buying an iPhone. In days, I’ll be free of Verizon, too, but that’s another rant.

Of course, in a week or so, I could be an unemployed professional actor. That's the risk, when you're working on a week-to-week contract, as I am with Prison Break. But you know what? It still beats working in a 6x6' cube.

Actually, as cube farms go, my former employer was a pretty good one. The people were great, the job was challenging, benefits were excellent, and the salary was decent. Also, my bosses were very understanding of my desire to make a life in the arts, and worked with me until it just became unfeasible, which is why I offered my resignation.

But the bottom line is, I don't care about insurance. Does anybody, really? I mean, it's a living, and a comfortable one, but seeing my Dad fighting for his life at age 59 opened my eyes. This is not my "rehearsal life"; this is my LIFE. I've always taken chances, but after seven years of making good, comfortable, corporate money, I had gotten a little complacent. This show was a kick in the pants, and the opportunity for me to make a leap of faith. So I jumped.

Strangely enough, making a multi-million dollar film or television series is a lot like running projects in a corporation. There's definitely a hierarchy, various agendas, and "office politics" at work. And the director's job is largely project management, along with a "system architect" role, perhaps. But even though what we're working on is mere entertainment, it feels more honest. We don't delude ourselves that we're doing something of deep philosophical importance, but we're all very committed to it.

And, as it turns out, a lot more people seem to care about this silly television show than they do insurance companies. Prison Break is the number one rated show in this country and several others, apparently, and has a huge international following (I had no idea). People aren't nearly as impressed with my corporate resume, alas. :-)

Here’s something funny: Two years ago, we wrapped the film ‘Living & Dying, and co-star Jordana Spiro turned to me and said, “So, what’s next for you?”

“Back to my managing a software project at an insurance company,” I replied.

“Oh, you’ve got a real job? Wow.” She thought I was an L.A. actor. “What’s next for you?” I asked. “Back to waiting tables and auditions, I guess,” she said, sounding a little dejected.

Well. A year later, the girl had her own TV series. So there ya go. It can happen.

So, this is a scary time for Mary and I (Danielle doesn't seem to care, either way). It’s a new chapter in my life. I look forward to turning the page...

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