Quick story: the week after I came back from several months in Africa (my first big solo backpacking experience), I met for wine with a group of actor girlfriends. I was so full of love and adventure and I glowed with positivity. However my friends were in the opposite place. They bitched about shitty day jobs and mean casting directors, bad auditions and the struggle to find representation. And I understood that they were venting their frustrations. But I also thought to myself, "God, I do NOT want to be these girls. I do not want to look at life as some decades-long chore to get through. Do they even enjoy acting anymore? Because they sound like they don't..." That night, with such a desperate fervor to maintain the full heart and fearless sense of adventure I had cultivated in Africa, I went home and searched for the cheapest plane ticket I could find, which happened to be to the Middle East, because who the fuck wants to go to Egypt during the Arab Spring, right? Well, me.
And since then, I have made sure to take at least one big trip a year. So here is the one reason why I feel that all actors should travel.
Because you will fall back in love with acting.
It's that simple, guys. I know that we are always strapped for cash and when we do book work of any kind all we can think of is paying our rent and student loans. I'm right there with you. And I can get all into how if you travel smart, it will actually cost you less than staying in the city, but at the end of the day, it’s as simple as this: if you are spending every single moment hustling, you get hardened. Survival jobs (I KNOW THE SURVIVAL JOB STRUGGLE) and auditions feel like chores. Sometimes even leaving your apartment to hang with a friend feels like too much of an effort. And in wintertime? Between the shit weather and hectic audition season, it is so hard to NOT breed toxicity. And then we lose sight, we lose feeling, of why we do what we do.
Traveling re-connects you to two main things. The first is humanity. When you travel, you go from "my life in New York City” (or LA or Chicago) where basically everything revolves around you, your friends, your family, your survival job, and your art to "I am one piece of the six billion piece puzzle that is this world." And you just receive. You receive people, even if they don't speak your native tongue. You use smiling as a first language. You become a much keener observer of how people live, how they treat each other. You slow down and recognize how small (not insignificant, just small) you really are. And that will open you, soften you and excite you.
You will also reconnect with the art of storytelling, which is the core of what we do for a living. These stories may be ones other travelers you meet have told you of their experiences, or they may be stories of your own that you create while adventuring. Either way, I guarantee you will have a journal filled with memories.
And then you get back home. And the first thing you do is get a bagel because duh. And you meet up with your friends and family and regale them with stories. You connect with your loved ones with more tenderness and patience.
And then your agent sends you a script and you approach it with fresh eyes. It's not a chore. It's not stressful. You GET to audition. You GET to play. You have spent the past few days/weeks traveling, And the world is the greatest playground, really. You are a dope ass storyteller with such an honest connection to humanity. You are awesome at this. You love this. You just needed a little break.
Open Heart, Open Art.