Taking a Walk With Me #2: Christopher Scott! (NOW ON YA iPHONE)



Check out Thank You, Robot here at their website and here at their Facebook!

ALSO, this podcast is now available to listen to via the iTunes Podcast store thing on your iPhone: https://itun.es/us/HoAnbb.c

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Make Your Identity… Just Not on My Facebook Wall

I write this post today with the hope that it will reach a lot of you youngsters – people not that much younger than me (or perhaps just a bit older) who are just graduating college and trying to establish themselves and create and identity. That’s a difficult and ambiguous thing to address. As a young professional in the modern age, you’ve likely been indoctrinated by narcissism and the idea that to be successful means that you have to create and online or public identity. The following mediums are all commonly used, and I’m going to write a little bit about each one and hopefully help inform your decisions.

1) Facebook Fan Pages
This is a common one for artists, actors, writers, and aspiring/current public figures alike. Facebook has done something interesting with it’s “fan page” feature. When Facebook started (some of you may not even remember) you “liked” things like Blink 182, fried eggs, and Wuthering Heights. These likes were used to catalog you and figure out if you had similar interests with others in your network. Today, fan pages have been given autonomy, and anyone who decides they represent an organization can assume the identity of these pages and post things on their behalf.
The thing about this is that having a fan page kind of assumes that you’re something people have already been searching for – an entity that people recognize and say, “Oh, wonder if they’re on Facebook. I’d like people to know that I like them!” Creating a Facebook Fan Page for yourself is only going to serve to annoy your online friends and give off an air of arrogance. If I’m already friends with you on Facebook, then write me a message or post on your wall to advertise your upcoming gallery show or open mic. I don’t need my timeline to show a post you put on your personal page, followed by an identical post on your “fan page.” Until you are super, super famous and people are trying to find you online, a Facebook Fan Page isn’t going to help you get noticed more unless people are already searching for you. And it will alienate the people who already wanted to be your friend in real life. Get it?

2) Blogs
Blogs are great, and worth reading if you have time. Many people try to make a blog because they think they’d like to be a writer. Freeze. This is a thought that is romantic and enters everyone’s mind. Being a writer, hmm? That offers a lot of flexibility and the respect of intellectual peers, no? Blogs can be great, but they can also just be spaces where people likely won’t ever read what you write. Don’t create a blog with the assumption that it’ll make you web-famous overnight. Many of my blogger friends who have popular blogs have been working at it for years and built up their reputations. There’s also something to be said about finding out if you really have something to say at that time. Making a blog with definitely put you to the test and at least help you learn about yourself. Don’t have as much to say as you initially thought? That’s okay. Explore your world. Find other passions and don’t sit in front of your computer. Inspiration will hit you later.

3) Vlogs/YouTube Channels
The first of these is a “video blog,” which is stupid to make unless you have a pretty exciting life. If you’re generally sitting at home and not doing a whole lot, don’t bother people by sharing links of you sitting in front of your laptop and talking about nothing (though Jenna Marbles has certainly proved an exception – but comedy is different, and harder to do). Make a vlog if you’re a traveler, or if you’re reporting on the progress of an ongoing project you’re passionate about. Similarly, YouTube channels may exist if you’re trying to produce content to become popular. A YouTube channel can help show the world your talents or that you enjoy wasting time – either way, you’ll be steps ahead in helping form an identity.

All in all, I’m well aware of the fact that at a young age, we all ascribe to a wide variety of things we don’t actually need or follow through with, kind of like a twelve year old kid with a closet full of the hockey equipment, guitar lesson books, and computer parts of tried and forgotten hobbies. Try things. Give them a shot. But be aware that there are a lot of ways to find out what makes you unique and marketable. Don’t be a social media sheep!

Actor Advice: Read Books

Actors suffer from one of the hardest conditions any profession has to offer: free time.

Between auditions, classes, shows, and jobs, it can become very daunting for any actor who wants to make it in this business to simply be still. Stagnation is death to the actor, who so wants to be up and on stage and fretting only about how he or she will make it to the next job in California when her play in New York City closes only the night before.

The truth is that most actors (whether you are starting out or are a seasoned vet) will face moments of stillness, inactivity, and unemployment. Acting is a profession that requires the cooperation of others to exist, so how do you keep yourself from going crazy in the slow periods?

My advice? Read.

I think actors should diversify their interests. Have three things you’re working on or working toward, they don’t have to be huge feats. Staying busy is hard to do when you can’t afford a class or aren’t in a show, but the two things you can always do on your own are reading and writing. Some of us aren’t writers, and that’s fine. Even if you’re not, I’d suggest giving it a whirl. Don’t wait for some playwright to hand you a good piece of work to perform – that could take forever. Write the work you’d want to perform. It may seem daunting, but starting is the hardest part. You may even find that you’re good at it.

The other option, reading, is much easier. It can be difficult to squeeze reading into a schedule that feels like doing anything for pleasure is wasteful, but that kind of thinking only leads to further stagnation – cherry-picking how you spend your time will usually just lead to waiting around.

Don’t just read novels, either. In fact, I’d suggest staying away from them for the time being. Start somewhere you wouldn’t expect. You’ve been reading The Scarlet Letter and Bless Me, Ultima since you were in high school, so let’s change it up. These are three kinds of books I think actors should set aside time to read.

1) How-To Books
Ever wanted to learn how to do something but didn’t have time to study it while you were busy completing your Drama major in college? With Google and Amazon, there are no gatekeepers to knowledge. There are books about how to do just about everything, and many of them come with instructional DVD’s as well. Pick a topic you’ve always had an interest in, even if it’s a small one. Ever wanted to learn how to design websites? How to format a screenplay? How to use Photoshop? Go to Amazon.com (or better yet, your closest bookstore) and find a book on how to do those things. If you give it enough time, you may even learn an applicable skill you can use at work or in your art.

2) Biographies
Read a biography. Better yet, read an auto-biography. I posted an article a while back with some books I’ve read and have enjoyed. If you’re an actor, writer, or comedian and there is someone whose career you admire, then why wouldn’t you read their book? Autobiographies are rarely step-by-step guides to success, but there is something to be said about hearing the voice (or at least the ghost-written voice…) of the artist to get a sense of how to be. That’s something to which people could pay more attention.

3) Business Books
Actors are a surprisingly meek breed, and in school and elsewhere we’ve been taught to think that the business model is to try, wait, try, and wait until someone miraculously hands you Excalibur and the whole kingdom of Camelot. That’s all well and good, but I think that entrepreneurship goes hand-in-hand with the successful actor/artist, especially today when the power of publishing and producing has been put back in the hands of the people with inexpensive equipment, software, and crowd-funding. Business books aren’t usually the most eloquent, and there can be a fair amount of fluff in them. (“Chapter 1: Three Steps to Putting PIZZAZZ Back in Your Career!”) But kitschy or not, business is business, and you may always find an interesting new mindset or approach to the career of your choice. I’m not even suggesting you read an acting-business book; How to Be a New York Actor or the like. Read a business book that’s generic, or a book about entrepreneurship. These books contain a career’s worth of advice from business leaders who have made things happen and are, for the most part, pretty happy with their success. In my opinion, the principles of running a good business and making an acting career coincide, and it’s good to get a fresh perspective.

Read, read, read. Learn! LIVE! Few activities are as inexpensive and possible to do on your own. Also, people like actors who have more to talk about than acting. Be an actor who reads The New Yorker or Wired Magazine. Be an actor who loves Stephen King, or who is currently studying how to develop mobile phone apps. Find some new interests. Enjoy your world.