The first episode of Merce is coming out in about a month: July 16th.
And by the by, we’re featured in the June issue of A&U magazine! Fabulous! Check out page 52.
I’m nervous. Not about the show, I think Merce is going to be wonderful. But the show and the possibilities of it all is shaking me.
Here’s the thing: when I was young, I really believed in my acting “talent.” I was kind of a big deal in AZ. I had my first agent when I was still in high school: L’Image Model and Talent Agency in Scottsdale. I remember when I got my very first headshots taken. Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” was on the stereo, my hair was tragically parted down the middle (everyone’s was back then), and I was put into Nazi yoga-like poses with my body twisted this way and that, and told to look like I just landed in the chair that way! I was so uncomfortable. The shots were not great. I wasn’t much of a looker in high school, but still, I hope that photographer was fired.
I moved in to New York in 1987 at 19 (“Three bucks! Two bags! One me!”), and wholly presumed that I had what it took to be a successful New York actor. Most of my success was as a waiter. Looking back, I had some triumphs: I had an agent and a manager, I booked a smattering of work, a little this-n-that theater. I even did a commercial for Western Beef Stores where they dumped raw meat on my head! It’s a glamorous life.
Throughout my time as a young actor, I had many, many headshots taken. I had bargain shots, I had artsy shots, I had shots taken by the “it” celeb photographer, spending thousands of dollars as time ticked by, hoping to get the one photo that would magically get me that job that would change my life. Spending money on headshots was an investment in hope, in the belief in the dream, that I really was talented and special.
After eleven years of pursuing a career as a professional actor, tons of auditions, chorus calls, callbacks, keeping up the belief that I was going to make it as a performer, I quit the business of show. It was pretty traumatic.
Looking back, there was one incident that sealed the deal for me. I’d auditioned for this movie, and I knew I’d done well. The casting director told my agent that they wanted me, but couldn’t hire me because I wasn’t SAG. Then the guy they offered the part to wasn’t available, so they offered it to me. Then they took it away to hire someone SAG. Then they were going to give me the part and make me SAG. Then no, and they’re going to hire someone else. This yes and no crap went on for about a week, when finally my agent called to tell me that they wish they’d used me in the film, since I was so much better than the guy they hired. That’s when it hit me: it doesn’t matter what I do, or how hard I work, or how good I am. I’m just not the guy who gets hired. My heart broke. The dream was over. I left New York in 1998.
Across the years, I’ve clawed my way to rediscovering my artist self. I found work as a theater teacher in L.A., as a musical director for a dinner theater in Little Rock, AR, I did community theater, I took writing classes. I made my way back to New York eight years ago, and I’ve realized that I’m a performer whether the industry cares or not. I’m a writer, I’m a director, I’m a musician.
So here we are, all these years later, and I’ve written this web series, Merce. And Tyne and I are producing it. And people are starting to take notice about it. there’s fantastic possibility about what might happen when the show is released. It’s wonderful. I have great hopes for Merce. I believe in him.
If Merce is successful, there’s potential that something terrific could happen for me as a result of the show, as an actor, as a writer, who knows? But putting faith in that potential, in that possibility, is really difficult. Hard to go back to the lover that kicked you out of bed.
As part of putting together a press pack, we need to include photos of Tyne and me. Professional headshots and editorial photos. Ugh. The idea of getting pictures taken made me feel vomitous. I kept thinking about all those headshots across all those years, and the death of the dream of that young actor that I used to be. I had to dig really deep to find the hope that it’s worth the money to have these things taken.
This week, I bit the bullet, and did it: I got pictures taken. The fabulous and charming Rick Stockwell took the shots on the roof of my building, and they’re wonderful. No Nazi yoga-esque poses this time! He completely put me at ease, and we laughed a lot. And so many of the pics came out great. I look at these new shots, and I think I look like a hopeful New York actor. That’s pretty terrific.
I don’t know what the future holds. It could be that I get famous. It could be that nothing happens. But I have to choose to have optimism about it all, to believe that no matter what happens, I’m still an artist.
And I think that the 17 year old me in those L’Image shots would think 47 year old me is kinda awesome.