The Inspiration of New Experience

It’s no secret that improvisational acting (improv) classes at The Upfront Theatre have improved my self-confidence significantly over the past three years, but I still have a way to go to keep insecurity from rearing its ugly head.

To become a successful author, we must be able to talk to anyone about our book, and not only talk, but sell it. Pacific Northwest author and friend Kim Kircher has blogged about her struggles with self-promotion during her recent book tour for her memoir, The Next 15 Minutes.

Experts propose a variety of suggestions on how we may overcome our fears, but most of them boil down to plugging our nose and jumping in with both feet. The simple act of surviving leads to a sense of accomplishment, which incrementally builds self-esteem and confidence. Getting on stage every week and writing this blog is me jumping in with both feet.

To further that effort, I opened my mind to other new experiences as well. Believe it or not, I recently worked as an extra in a rap music video. While that may not sound like a natural fit for a suburban mom and environmental scientist, the fact that it was outside my comfort zone was exactly what I needed.

Below is the video itself, Take My Pain Away by Conceit, directed by Darkheart Visions Production’s talented Domenic Barbero. Although not appropriate for children, the song is stuck in my head.

For most of the video shoot, I just focused on not screwing up, but I also drank in the new experience. What if I want to write fiction someday about a musician, or a video extra, or a film maker? This experience, one that none of my fellow 2nd grade moms would consider in a million years, was not only potential research for some future opus, but also a way for me to chase down my own insecurities with a baseball bat.

Articles I’ve read say that extra work is so small that it shouldn’t even appear on an acting resume. But I feel like shouting about this from the roof tops. “Hey everybody, I was scared to death to appear in a music video and I did it anyway!” The experience also brought other unexpected benefits. I met some very interesting, smart, confident, and (of course) beautiful people and learned a ton of tiny details about video production, acting, and especially fake blood (Thanks Langley West!).

This past weekend I also auditioned for the Upfront Theatre’s mainstage ensemble. Although I didn’t get a call back this time, I was proud of myself for having the courage to try. I stayed calm and positive during the audition process, and I wasn’t too hard on myself afterward. Shutting down my inner critic was a huge step for me. I came away from my audition with a clear list of what I need to do next time to really shine, and also gained a completely unique experience that most of my friends would never dream of attempting. Who knows, maybe this experience will appear in my next article, short story, play, or manuscript.

In this article (Thanks Sandi Pants!), The Office’s Jenna Fischer suggests working as an extra, or background artist, as one of the best ways to get started in the entertainment industry. Her random early experiences connected her to the people who years later cast her on The Office.

We can’t know with certainty what our future will hold, but the range of possibility is much smaller without the inspiration of fresh experience. So the next time the insecurity monster shows up at your house, consider grabbing him by the arm and dragging him into your new experience with you, head first.

6 responses to “The Inspiration of New Experience

  1. Improv is a great way to help shed those insecurities. I’m glad you auditioned – that probably took a lot of courage to stand in front of all of those seasoned improvisers. Beat that insecurity monster over the head!

  2. Kudos to you! Another benefit to trying new things is all the wonderful people you meet and become friends with.

  3. Thanks for this inspiring post today. After having put myself “out there” so much lately, I’ve been feeling a need to draw in to a cocoon. But instead, I should open my arms to new experiences and opportunities. Because you never know what the future holds for those that reach for it.

    • Kim! You’re probably the one person I know that travels and ski’s enough to probably have reached your threshold for new experience. Probably good advice for us all to remember to get some cocoon-time in between extroverted events.

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