Embracing the Future as a Graduating Young Actor and Keeping the Freak Outs to a Minimum
By Becky Keeshin
So it’s happening. It’s finally happening.
I am a Young Actor. As I lay here in bed at 1 a.m. in New York City, awaiting my senior showcase at DePaul and anxiously recalibrating the recent auditions I’ve been on (how could I have taken direction in a different way, what was the exact words the director used when saying goodbye, and was my fly unzipped because I forgot to zip after the bathroom or is it just how those pants are? Etc, etc, you know the drill) it finally feels like the real world is taking shape.
When I accepted a place in The Theatre School at DePaul University’s Acting Class of 2017, I would have never imagined it would go this fast; but these last four years went at such a speedy rate, sometimes I have to pinch myself to be reminded it even happened. I have always been a person that has been counting down the minutes until I graduate, but all of a sudden this time in my life showed up so much quicker than I expected. So here I am. Lying in bed, staring at the ceiling and counting down the hours until my classmates and I arrive at Joe’s Pub and present our first showcase out of three; and boy oh boy am I having some feelings.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what exactly it means to be a young actor and what does it mean in terms of continuing my development into adulthood. DePaul has given me a plethora of tools in my acting toolbox and I feel confident in my technique, but how do I identify and define what it means to be a graduating young actor right now? What does this mean for my future and how do I keep my spirits up when the going gets tough?
Recently, I was having a complete meltdown about adulthood or “adulting” as the youths like to say, to two friends whom I highly respect and trust. One friend is married with a BEAUTIFUL three month old baby boy and the other is engaged to be married in 2018. To me, those milestones seem to exude adulthood, so I felt comfortable going to them about my meltdown. They also both have experiences with the highs and lows of being an actor. When I asked them what to do when I start panicking and how in the world does anyone actually become an adult one friend said to me, “Becky, no one knows what they are doing. Some people are just great at faking it. No one actually has it figured it out. We are all learning as we go because being an adult is hard for everyone”. And with that, my world felt flipped upside down and something clicked.
There is not some big secret about adulthood that I don’t know. Honestly, I think part of me thought there was! I didn’t expect for it to happen overnight, but I definitely thought I would wake up in the middle of the night in the next five years, sweating and shouting “EUREKA!” because I finally got the secret everyone had been keeping from me. Wrong. I also thought something big in my life would happen that would define the beginning of my success in my adult life, such as my first big acting job, or in my friends cases having a baby or getting married. But alas, as these things begin to happen to me and I see my friends go through them, I am realizing that these moments are a part of life and I have to trust my path to discover my own possibilities. I am not sure if I will ever feel this big EUREKA moment in the middle of the night, it may very well not exist, but every day I am evolving and these are the stepping stones I will come upon.
The way I can further define my artistry is to stay true to myself, even when I get nervous or intimidated; which can be the most difficult thing! What I know though is who I am and what I stand for, and if I bring my knowledge and personality with me to every audition, rehearsal and performance, that is what I can be proud of. I am learning I can’t control too much in this profession, but what I can control is how I present myself in my most truthful and confident state. Staying true to myself is always a win, and that is something to celebrate whether the callback or booking come or not.
Up next I’ll be heading to Canterbury Summer Theatre in Michigan City, Indiana for their productions of Have A Nice Day! And Tomorrow Morning. What’s after that? I have no clue. What I can do though is persevere and pound that pavement. Some days will be better than others, but I think it truly goes back to what we are taught as kids. Be yourself. Be kind. Don’t beat yourself up.
And I would also add carry deodorant in every bag you own.