Thanksgiving and Actor Impostor Syndrome

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Happy Thanksgiving!  Yesterday!  We celebrated quietly at home in South Pasadena with baking and chopping and cooking and eating starchy foods with excessive butter.  It was heavenly, in other words.  And I’m happy not to cook like that again until next year.

Here’s one thing I know for sure: I am never going to get used to the lack of seasons out here.  Every September/October I hit a depression as I slowly realize (again) that fall really is not going to come.  At all.  There will be no need to wear black tights and boots and wear a scarf.  No brisk air and cozy cafe mornings, curling your fingers around a coffee mug.  Nope.  It will be 80-90 degrees and it’ll be all Pumpkin Spice all the time and it will sound completely disgusting because it’s so hot.  Lemonade, please.  I mean, come on, it was in the 80s yesterday on Thanksgiving.

So the trick is – during the day it’s California, fine, and at night when it gets colder, you pretend it’s “really” fall and you make meals with thyme and root vegetables and drink red wine and burn candles.  That’s how I make this work.

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So we went out for dinner on Wednesday night with my aunt and uncle and cousins.  It was wonderful to see family, and they’re really just such great people.  I traveled with Sally about (wow) 5 and a half years ago in England for a week on my way to BADA (Oxford acting summer program, Shakespeare, nerdy, nerdy, nerdy), and I appreciate having her and Graham in my life, even we don’t see each other all that much. They’re very cultured, very supportive of the arts, well traveled.  And she’s my dad’s sister (my dad passed away almost 6 years ago now), so having Sally in my life is really a special thing.  It’s just genuinely a good, relaxed time hanging out with her and Graham.  And they’re always up for wine and cheese or a good beer, so that helps.

Anyway, Sally asked me at one point the other night if I was now more interested in working behind the scenes rather than in front of the camera (which makes sense as I just finished writing/directing a film – but also playing the lead role).  And I said, no, I want to pursue acting as well as writing and directing.  And she meant it as a completely innocent question (and in truth, I have much more creative control over my career as a writer/director – which I love).  But in the moment and later on, I got the old creeping impostor feeling in my stomach.  Ugh.  No.

I mean, I’m very, very glad that I said I want to be an actress rather than lying and saying I prefer being behind the scenes, but “who knows, maybe I’ll do a little acting” (because that’s not true – I want to do it so badly – and I want to write so badly).  But it makes me incredibly self conscious.   Just speaking this desire out loud seems to take me outside of my body and makes me harshly critical.  I imagine judgments from other people like, “she must think she’s really beautiful, little does she know she’s not that great” or “this shy, awkward girl thinks she can be an actress?” or “she’s a little old to start out now” – all of which is bullshit.  Yes, I’m imperfect physically, yes, I’m an introverted person, yes, I’m about to turn 28 in less than a month (only someone going into acting would think that’s old).

Fine.  Do it anyway.

I have been out of college for four years now this coming month.  And I have felt deeply uncomfortable all this time with saying I want to be an actress. Writer is safe, even director has been okay (although I feel like a complete impostor when around real directors who have directed real crews and real films, but that’s for another post).  But for some reason, it really feels like now or never with the Actress thing.

I’m in a transition.  I just wrapped my “directorial debut” (oh god I hope I’m not cursing myself by saying that – it’s what it is) – and now I’m ready to pursue acting head on.  Which means calling myself an actress.  Without apology.  And it means behaving like a professional actress.

It’s tricky.  Because I genuinely don’t know how to go about this.  I’m learning constantly.  Googling.  Reading blogs.  I’m pulling myself together into a presentable actress online.  I’m aiming to have my new reel done by next week sometime (editing it myself).  I’ve got a new headshot.  I’m joining more breakdown sites.  I’m getting my ass on IMDB.  And I’m ready to audition.

Ready.  Scared.  Ready.  Scared.

Ready.

Here’s my headshot.  (!!!!!!!)  Imperfect, but me.

RebeccaWeaverHoly hell.  There it is.  Not fancy, but presentable I hope.  Natural, not too glammy.

[It’s so so weird, figuring out your image, how to present yourself publicly.  Honestly, I’m so glad to be getting (just a little) older.  Because I frankly have seen enough actress breakdowns where the girl is supposed to be “stunningly beautiful,” “breathtaking,” “perfect 10,” or even just “super hot.”

Actress breakdowns are horrible anyway and they’re a whole feminist discussion I won’t go into now (but I will at some point, I will discuss women in Hollywood until I die).  But, if you haven’t seen the Lady Parts Tumblr, check that out and feel just a little better that even though casting is full of misogyny, at least there are women out there who call bullshit when they see it.

I mean, I got into this to be like Joan Allen, not Megan Fox.  Fuckers.]

Anyway.  Despite these awkward feelings, despite not feeling good enough or pretty enough – I know I can act.  I’ve done more writing and it’s easier for me to sit behind a laptop than it is for me to get onstage or in front of a camera – but I know I can do it.  I’m not a great auditioner – but I’m ready to work on it.

I’m all in. And that means telling other people that I’m all in too.  Terrifying.  But I’d rather feel awkward or insecure going after what I really want than having than hiding what I want and feeling like I’m not showing up all the way as myself.

So, here we go!  I wanna be…an actress.

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