Throughout my career, I’ve had a big problem with time management. I continue to have a problem. (If y’all could see my to-do list for this weekend, you would see why I want to cry.) The thing with our industry though, is that a lot of it is self-inflicted. Every contract that comes my way is a choice I need to make. Do I guest star on a television series or do I take a small vacation after working in theatre for seven weeks? Do I schedule a short film on the weekend of someone’s birthday, or take time off and celebrate with them?
There comes a point where it’s too much, and time management also becomes an art. There has to be a balance between passion projects and projects that allow me to pay rent. When I won the Pitch Competition, I was juggling that, and two major passion projects of mine. As more paying work started to come my way, I needed to realistically look at what I could handle and what would keep me afloat financially.
The biggest lesson I learned: Timing is everything.
I was at a point where I couldn’t follow passion projects for a couple reasons. I was so gratefully being offered work that I couldn’t turn down because I needed to pay my bills. And unfortunately, it wasn’t looking like anyone else was interested in my passion projects anyway. But I realized that putting things on the back burner didn’t need to be a bad thing. Every so often, I get approached by someone looking for a new project to fund. I learned that it’s strategic to have a few projects laying around in my arsenal, instead of stressing out to come up with a new concept every time someone wanted one.
Oh, you want to know what I have in mind? Here are a few things to choose from, and if you don’t like any – we can talk some more…
Timing is everything. Just because I come up with a concept that no one wants right this second, it doesn’t mean it won’t develop into something later. Think of all the plays and films that sit in development hell for decades. The time will come, and in the meantime – getting paid is always a good thing.
Talk about timing? Here’s another story I tell my friends. A throwback to the last closing night I’ve had, and the nightmare I put everyone through: Goodnight, Desdemona indeed.
The air in the Colin Jackson Theatre that night was bittersweet. The GDGJ team and I had such an exhilarating run. Every night was either sold-out or close to, and the laughs we got certainly helped mend my heavy heart. Our very first scene, I climbed onto the wooden slab where, as Juliet, I commit suicide via stabbing my gut because I believe I’ve lost my dear Romeo. I had done this night after night, rehearsal after rehearsal, but on our final night as I pretended to stab myself, I felt my foot go through the tiny hole our crew had drilled into the slab. The one that we carefully cover with paper and paint every night to camouflage it fro the audience. The one that doesn’t come into play until the very end of the play, but is very much vital for its conclusion.
I was so embarrassed and apologetic when I scrambled off of the slab during blackout and rolled it backstage, having to tell our stage manager Quinn Greene that I had effectively just screwed us unless he could fix it. He had to strip the current layer of paper, glue a whole new layer of paper onto the slab, wait for it to dry, and then paint it, and again wait for it to dry. All while making sure he didn’t let the audience hear him backstage, while he was moving set pieces during the play that was still ongoing (including the slab itself), playing our Shadow Man, and continuing his stage managing duties.
What. A. Superstar.
For the duration of the show, the rest of the cast had to carefully move around the wet glue/paint spot. They had to watch their butts, costume pieces, and props until we were done, all under spotlights in front of the audience. With a lot of teamwork, we navigated through my accident (…honestly I didn’t do much to help, though) and came out the other end with a gag that went off perfectly. Really, with my track record, it’s a wonder I only did it the one time.
Moral of the story: Timing is everything, and watch your feet.