I've gotten fairly used to my existential crisis, consistently rebuking the question "What do you do?" when the questioner really means "What do you do for a living?"
But I was unprepared for an identity crisis, when being asked "Who are you?" forced me to choose one thing, and I don't think it was the right thing at all.
Given all the camera time I've received on QVC over the last couple of years, I thought it was a good idea to attend a "TV Hosting" seminar at Actor's Connection, where I would be introduced to a number of talent and casting agents who might be able to help me in the future. You have to pay for this sort of thing - it turns out every industry has its own dirty iteration of "pay for play" - but industry insiders constantly insist it's worth it, so I gave it a try.
The problem is, they'd rather meet a completely inexperienced newbie who desperately wants to be a host, rather than someone like myself who has done journalism, radio broadcast, TV hosting and live theater, bit parts, etc.
"It's a drawback," one of the agents told me. "We don't want someone acting like a host. We want a host."
The sinking feeling in my stomach got worse when it was my turn to read my memorized host copy in front of the agents. After introducing myself, I had to tell them what my specialty was. But I've never been much of a specialist, always priding myself as a generalist who could major in English and minor in Biology, and market classical hip hop music for children if I had to.
I wanted to tell them that I specialized in adventure, in making up for lost time, in taking chances, in seizing opportunities, but instead I said, "I guess you could say my specialty is music. I've worked in marketing in the music industry for 13 years, and I've recently done some significant on-air guest work on QVC selling a box set of soft rock music from the late 70s and early 80s."
Really? That's it? I mean, it's true, but that's it?
Part of me wanted to tell them that it wasn't about any specialized knowledge of a specific field, but about my sparking personality, my joie de vivre, my preference of being on camera than actually interacting with real people. But I didn't show them any of that. I was trying to be something, be one thing, and I didn't do a very good job at it.
I'm better at being all things, any number of things at any given time. Does that make me a chameleon? Unpredictable? Confusing? Overwhelming?
Maybe. But if a Writer/Marketing Expert/Actress/Host/Music Trivia Wiz/Traveler/Adventurer/Explorer/Photographer is who I really am, I refuse to choose just one of those.
Cross-posted on Extra Criticum.
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