I recently ran my first 5K. In case you were wondering, that's 3.1 miles. In case you were wondering, I ran it in 25 minutes and 35 seconds. That's a pace of ~8.2 min/mi. I didn't run a marathon, but this was a huge accomplishment for me. An accomplishment that I mentally and physically trained to achieve.
A career in the arts is a marathon, not a sprint. You start by deciding to accomplish something. My goal? Ultimately, I would like to support myself using only arts-related activities. Was this my original goal? Absolutely not. When I was sixteen, I wanted "to be an actress" but I had no conception of what that actually meant. Sure I had visions of Cosmo covers and E! interviews, but those weren't real aspirations, they were simply all I knew of the acting world. Now that I'm actually part of that world, I have a better understanding of what it means and where I'm headed.
So I started with The Warm Up: Warming up for a race is just as important as warming up for a career. I hold a BA in Theatre Arts from Brandeis. I spent a semester in London studying Shakespeare, Noel Coward, and other British greats. I participated in as much college theatre as I could. I learned about my craft in as many ways as possible.
The First Quarter Mile: After graduation, I chose a location - BOSTON. After that, it was a matter of time before I started making connections. I joined StageSource, I went on auditions, I saw theatre.
The Next Quarter Mile (AKA The First Half Mile): I got into my stride, my pace for the run - I found my niche. The fringe theatre scene. Kenny, Mary-Liz, and I started The CoLab and I started to meet more and more people who were interesting in bringing the same sort of theatre I was to the Boston area. This led to more and more auditions which led to...
Three Quarters of a Mile Down: Getting cast. During a run, the first mile and a half is the toughest to get through. My body sometimes isn't ready for it. It is the point in the run where my brain kicks in and says, "you know you can do this. Don't give up this easily." After that I get into my stride, and the roles that I've been cast in so far have helped me get into a stride in the Boston area. I've made a number of connections, friends, and I've been able to push myself as an actress. This is all part of the training, the marathon.
The Completion of the First Mile: I haven't hit this point yet in Boston. For me, it will be when I get paid for a role. (Actually paid, not just a stipend.) This had yet to happen, but I know it will some day. For now, I'll keep up my training schedule. A training schedule filled with 5k roles to help me train for marathon roles. (This is not to say that the first time I get paid will be for the role of a life time, but it will be a stepping stone.) My marathon role will be the role I've trained for my whole life. Or at least, it will feel that way. Hopefully I'll experience several marathon roles in my lifetime. But I know that won't be for some time.
And like the road, the stage is somewhere to head where things in "real life" get messy or sad or boring. My 5k training came out of a little heartbreak and little spare time. And here I am running an 8 minute mile. Like running, a career in the arts also requires your brain to train. To remember that even if you're having a tough first mile or a dry spell from getting cast, if you push just a little harder, run just a little further, it will happen for you.
So for today, I'll take my first race as a great accomplishment and I'll use this knowledge to push myself towards longer races and faster miles. And I'll do the same with the stage. With each role, I know that I'm headed toward the future. Each role builds on itself, telling me something about myself as an actress and as a human. I'm never going to run a 5 minute mile for 3 miles in a row. I'm just not. And I'm never going to be on the cover of Cosmo. But that's not what's important to me either. I don't know where I'll end up, but the journey is what's most important. Not the finish line.
A photo of my dad, brother, and I after the race!