FOR THE HELL OF IT
HAPPY NEW YEAR – 2022
By Johnny Heller
Jan. 1, 2022
Happy New Year! There is nothing better than a new year to make you feel that there’s a world of possibilities out there just waiting for you to seize them and run with them and to create a whole new you!
You can fix your many mistakes of the previous year; reinvent yourself if you like; change the bad things; amplify your good points and experiences. It’s wonderful!
It’s also highly unlikely. Because no matter where you go or what you do, there will always be you.
The only constant from one year to the next in your life is you. And you are the one who is about as likely to change as Mike Lindell is to admit that Biden won in 2020.
Every year, we make “resolutions” – I don’t think this word means what you think it does. You think it means “a firm decision to do something” but it doesn’t. In this case, it’s more of an abstract concept of an idea of a thought you might have once had that began with: “I bet it would be better if…” And it’s the “IF” that ruins it.
Here’s the thing. If you want to make resolutions to change or to be different, you shouldn’t be the one making the list. Everyone you know should get to weigh in, since they are the ones you generally piss off on a regular basis by being you. Call your friends. Ask them what they would change about you if they could. Ask them what you could be better at. At the very least, this exercise will lead you to find new friends. And that’s a fine resolution.
Bringing this around to the actor, and, in my book, that’s where everything comes back to, here are a few things that you might try to do that are different. Remember you can’t change your nature. Folks like Paul Heitsch or Travis Baldree are not going to suddenly be easy to understand without a dictionary nearby. And we don’t really want that anyway.
What we do want is to be better actors. Better humans would be nice but not even therapy can deliver on that. (Actually, therapy really just helps you accept how bad you actually are and helps you blame it on your parents – so that’s nice.)
So what can we do?
1. GO BACK TO BASICS
No matter what genre you are working in, acting is a human endeavor. It is finding the author’s truth and being a conduit for that truth to the listener/audience. Identify the emotional connection of the author to the subject; identify the emotional connections between the characters in any given scene. Play those connections.
You have no idea what I’m on about? Then your resolution is to find out. Get some training.
- MARKET BETTER
You can’t seem to get traction in your career. What’s your website look like? What’s your business plan look like? What? You don’t have that? Make a resolution to get it. Meet with Tom Dheere. Meet with Jeffrey Kafer. At the least, go look at other actor websites. Look with the eye of a producer. Is what’s on the site helpful to you as someone seeking a voice talent? If not, change your site.
3. INVEST IN YOURSELF
If you know about tech stuff, great! Get the tech stuff you need to make your work sound professional. But make sure that you are also good at acting. In fact, that should be first. A nice voice is far more pleasant than an irritating one but a voice that can’t act isn’t a voice that is going to get the job. Research coaches. Ask around. Find one or eight that seem good to you and give it a go. Always remember, in terms of auditioning, you have one chance to make a first impression. One. If your sound is bad, if your acting is bad -then you are bad and no matter how good you get later, that impression is going to be hard to shake.
Here are a few other thoughts I have that might make 2022 better for you, or, at least, better for me!
1. Stop posting about how busy you are. Stop telling us you’re booked until Fall of 2032. Not only does it sound unlikely, but even if it’s true, it’s just bragging, and we live in a world of people who are always wondering if they will ever find their first job and there’s you – taking all the jobs. How unpleasant.
2. Accept awards and tell us about them. You deserve recognition. You deserve acclaim. You deserve to dress up and schmooze and be lovely. But don’t let an award be your goal. Your goal is to work. Awards are swell but they don’t pay the rent.
3. Stop listening to people who “know everything” and tell you what topics you “need” to feel things about and just how exactly those feelings need to be articulated. You are fine just as you are (except, of course, for the little adjustments I’ve suggested! And remember, those are adjustments I’ve suggested for you and who the hell am I anyway?).
4. You are, at any given moment, all you can be. Be at peace with that. If you want to lose weight, lose some. If you don’t, you’re still wonderful. If you want to run a marathon, start with a few laps, and keep at it until you get to 26 miles (and if you don’t run the marathon, you’re still ok – 26 miles is a long way – there are buses you know). If you want things to be better, then it starts with you being better -whatever that means for you.
5. Don’t be a dick. This should be everyone’s motto. It’s so easy to be a dick that many of us don’t even realize that we’re being one, yet we are quick to note dickiness in others. When you recognize dick behavior in someone else, think about how often you engage in exactly the same behavior – and stop it. Stop it before it starts. That is an absolutely wonderful way to change for the better (Please don’t expect me to stop being one though. My only skill set is the ability to point it out in others as a fault and brag about it in myself! I have no plans to change this at all. I think this counts as a sign that I am open and vulnerable – right?)
*Scott Brick and I will be planning our Audiobook Business Workshop soon (sadly, it might have to be virtual – but we can hope!).
*The West Coast Retreat will be rescheduled. (It’s covid-dependent)
* The Splendiferous Workshop will be a series of “On the Road” events – so live and virtual.
* Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn (which I still don’t have a handle on) and on the subway if you want to, and join the Johnny Heller Workshop Alumni Page to stay up to date on all the activities coming up.
I wish all of you a very HAPPY & PROSPEROUS 2023! (I’m using 2022 as a test year. It’s a mulligan and not a real year until it proves itself worthy. I learned a great deal from 2021 and I will not be fooled again!)