What makes you uniquely you…

I’ve been thinking about acting lately. And I do mean acting, not theatre – if you know me, that distinction matters. And there’s a couple of reasons why it’s suddenly in my thoughts again…

A long time ago I acted – I sort of blogged about it, last year. And I loved it. Passionately! At the time I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. So I moved to LA, like all good little actresses do. And then like so many before me, I got overwhelmed with the whole earning a living thing, so I decided to move back to San Diego and study photography, so that I could learn to shoot actors headshots. It seemed like the perfect way to earn money in Los Angeles – much better than being a waitress! I fully intended to move back to LA and get back to acting, but a funny thing happened, I fell in love with photography. I especially grew to love fine art photography. So I kept waitressing, and went to school and spent long hours in the darkroom. I didn’t ever say, “I’m done with acting!” – it just sort of happened. Over time I stopped being an actor, and became a photographer.

So cut to today, and I’m planning to move back to LA in the next few months – my photography is pulling me there. It’s just the natural progression for my career and where I want to go as an artist. I’m really excited about the things I’ve got planned for later this year – it’s going to be amazing!

But somewhere in the swirl of all the excitement and planning, this weird little niggling desire has been rearing up lately. For some reason, moving to LA is still connected in my head to pursuing acting. Why? It’s been well over a decade since I was in that world? And the weird part is that I spent a decade doing musical theatre onstage, and less than a year pursuing TV and film, but theater isn’t tempting to me at all. That’s my past, and while the past was great, I’ve moved on. The niggling in my head is for TV and film. Why?

So all this was swirling in my head this morning – the weird niggling desire, the “Why?”, the “that’s not practical”, and the “why the hell not, if I want it.” Part of me is really enjoying the fact that something I’ve forgotten for so many years, has just suddenly popped up again. It’s proof to me that who we are is set fairly early. We may evolve and grow and find new things to love, but the part of me that was attracted to acting in the first place, still exists! I haven’t changed all that much.

So I let myself think a little further down the path, *if* I was to pursue it, and it occurred to me that I’m not very cast-able right now. I don’t look like the people on TV. I’m not a recognizable character. I don’t look like a smart businesswoman, or a loving mom, or a policewoman, or a librarian/teacher, or any of the other recognizable character types. I really am just me. And then it hit me! I never was any of those types. Even at 20 I was unique – I just didn’t see it at the time. I was always taught that a “good” actor loses him or herself in the role, and “good” actors can play lots of different kinds of roles, equally well. I still do believe that – for some actors – but for myself? Maybe not. There were only two instances where I was cast against type, and both times it was a difficult process for me to find myself in the role – and I did it – I was successful both times! But it took a lot of work.

If I’m honest, I was always much better when I played a version of myself. Aack! I mean what a horrible thing for any actor or even ex-actor to admit about themselves! But… I’m okay with it. And I think that *if* I was to pursue acting again, I would embrace that fact and not try to be a “good” actor who can play anything, and instead focus on my uniqueness and just play variations of myself.

Which brings me back to photography! I am sooooo okay with the fact that I can’t do everything. I revel in that fact! I’m very specialized, and I love it! I shoot hot rock stars, beautiful portraits, fine art, photojournalistic/documentary stories, and happy, shiny, scenic places. It’s a weird combination, but the way I do it is uniquely me. If you look at my work long enough, you see the continuity. Everything I shoot is distinctly me. I don’t shoot family portraits, I don’t shoot sports, I don’t shoot babies, I don’t shoot architecture, and the list goes on. Very few people can do everything well, and I’m definitely not one of them. But, what I do, I do well. I specialize and I’m unique, and I’m proud of it!

And here’s the big thought of the day! I firmly believe that true success is only possible if you embrace what makes you uniquely you.

I kind of doubt I’ll ever pursue acting again, as much as I loved it, the fact is I love photography more, and my passion is leading me… But you never know! And I have to admit that I love that a past love has entered my consciousness again. I didn’t miss acting, but I’m happy to have it back in my thoughts again. And if I’m embracing what makes me uniquely me, then maybe I’ll find a way to incorporate it into my current life. Like maybe I’ll shoot headshots for actors once I get to LA? It was the plan once upon a time, and maybe it will be again?

3 Replies to “What makes you uniquely you…”

  1. cheryl, your work really reflects that your specialties are uniquely you – all outstanding! sometimes people try to do it all and it just comes out good but not great. i think when a person does what is a part of his or her core, it comes through tenfold. it's fantastic that you are true to yourself and are self-aware. cheers!

  2. What a beautiful comment, Chloe! I can’t believe it took me all this time to find it, but I’m super-happy I did find it! Thank you! And thanks to you too Jaime!

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