Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Ability is of little account without opportunity."
- Lucille Ball

Opportunity. I think that's the thing everyone in this industry is struggling for. The chance to show everyone 'what I got' or 'what I can do'. Often times I've described the way I sometimes feel about the whole thing as such; I feel like I'm in a glass box.

A glass box, that has a door. My side of the door has no doorknob, but the other side does. I feel like every day - all the time - I see people walking around outside of my glass box. No one looks at me. They may glance my general direction, but don't really look. I could be inside my box dancing, singing, spotlights and all - they don't care. They keep moving. I can hear what they talk about, though. I try and answer them sometimes. Other times, I try and join their conversation.

Then - every so often - someone will look at me. Really look. Take a second and actually stop, and look. I realize this, so I look back. Smile, wave, so on. Usually, they walk away and continue with whatever they were doing, but some other times - they'll walk up to my glass box, and knock on the door. I'll talk for a moment, and they'll be off again. Maybe walk to others and ask about me, but that's all. Now in my little 'glass box' universe, there are other people around me in their own boxes. One by one- between my glances, knocks and passerbys - I see other people reaching out to open the doors of others. The rest of us? Not so lucky.

Yet.

Staying positive and breaking down that damn glass box if you have to is what needs to be done. Always remembering where you started off and where you are now are two completely different places. Both relating to your career - and your discovery of yourself and who you are as a person. I haven't even been in this industry long and I can tell you it isn't a joke when they say this world is not like any other.

It can make or break you - and they do mean that litterally.

I've heard stories and seen things I wish I never would have. A man who is virtually a 'nobody' promising a group of hopeful (and underage) starletts that if they sleep with him, he can get them a role in the next hit blockbuster. Auditions where they don't critque you at all on your abilities or knowledge of the scene or character, but rip you up in front of others and tell you in the most blunt fashion that 'something is wrong with you' because you are 'an ugly f*cking heffer' and should think about 'fixing' yourself before doing another audition again. People and productions that promise you the world - and have nothing to back it up with. I've been told, "It's just the business. You have to let it go." Why? When will people put their foot down? Are they allowing it to be done to them because their weak? Shy? Afraid it really IS someone who is a 'heavy hitter' in the 'game'? Or do they just feel like they have virtually nothing left, and this is their only shot - so being abused or taken advantage of is sounding better than being 'nothing' at all?

That brings me to feeling discouraged. That feeling, to be frank, is a complete bitch. Unless you aren't capeable of emoting, I'm sure everyone knows what discouragement feels like. Even a small bit of it. Feeling like your just stuck. Then again, different people would describe their own feelings related to discouragement differently, and for different reasons. Any way it's felt - it's never a happy feeling. It's horrible to feel like the only thing(s) in life you've ever really truly wanted with everything that's inside of you is so damn hard to get. Sometimes, feeling that it's almost unattainable is enough to make an individual feel like they're dying on the inside. As hurtful a feeling as that is - what is the deciding factor that makes someone give up? Just throw in the towel? What makes others push on, and continue 1,000x's more forceful - more passionately?

In September 1932, a young actress named Lillian Millicent "Peg" Entwhistle was a rising star in Hollywood. She had made her Hollywood debut in Hamlet at just 17 years old in New York, critics and audiences alike loved her and she soon became a Broadway star. Then, the great depression hit and her Broadway career seemed to come to an end. In Hollywood, California at that time they were making the transition from silent films to talkies. Not all of the silent film stars did well in talkies, and Lillian had heard that stage actors on the other hand were making it quite big. So off to California she went! The plays she got were smaller than she had in New York, and when the curtians fell on her bigger play Mad Hopes - she took it pretty hard. Thanks to her popularity in New York, Lillian had landed a contract with RKO studios. (The same studio that had contracted such stars as Lucille Ball and Ginger Rogers, just to name a few). In weeks of her contract, she landed a small part in the film Thirteen Woman. After the film was edited she was just barely cut from the film. 

Auditions came and auditions went. She showed face, did her part, and still didn't seem good enough. Her option with RKO ran out, and they decided not to renue it. (Mind you, back in those days the studios had what they called 'contract players' which is for the most part much different from what is done today - but, I digress). Lillian "Peg" Entwhistle was a Broadway star, but had fallen in Hollywood. With no friends, no money, no jobs, and what seemed to be no career, Lillian took a walk to the Hollywood sign. Climbed up top, and plunged to her death. A hitch hiker discovered her body the next morning. Police not being sure of who it was, ran the suicide in the paper and her Uncle Harold, who had been searching for her, responded.   **

Horrible and sad. But, I can't say I don't understand that feeling. I can't say I don't sympathise. I do - in fact, the first time I had read that story I wanted to cry for her. Feeling stuck. Trapped. Hopeless. Scared. Lost... the worst feelings in the world.

BUT -

- two days after Lillian had jumped to her death, her Uncle Harold had gotten a letter that had been mailed to her a day before she passed away. It was from the Beverly Hills Playhouse, offering Lillian the leading role in their play!

GOSH! If she would have only waited, you know! Makes me crazy! And so sad for her. Nothing is without a battle, and a fight. If you stay true to who you are, and what you have inside - regardless of who is trying to change you or make you do something you wouldn't, or even pull you down and stomp on your spirit till there's nothing left... you can't give in. You feel upset for a moment. Then... carry on. No one makes it overnight:

"Here's what I advise any young struggling actress today: The important thing is to develop as a woman first, and a performer second. You wouldn't prostitute yourself to get a part, not if you're in your right mind. You won't be happy, whatever you do, unless your comfortable with your own conscience. Keep your head up, keep your shoulders back, keep your self-respect, be nice, be smart. And remember there are practically no 'overnight' successes. Before that brilliant hit performance came ten, fifteen, sometimes twenty years in the salt mines, sweating it out." - Lucille Ball

That's what it always comes down to. You can NEVER give up. Don't do it. Fight with everything you have inside you. Your human, sure, you feel upset sometimes. You feel depressed sometimes. Sad. Whatever - then pick up and keep truckin'! There will never ever be another you. There's plenty of room in this business we call a show... enough for all of us. Who doesn't wanna live their dreams? Everyone will get their shot. Just believe in yourself! Keep pushing. ;)

Best,
April Washko

Monday, November 15, 2010

Well - Hello world!

I'm not much of a blogger - but it's been highly recommended that I get a blog. Seemingly, half of the world has one and gee golly I can't be left behind! ;) I don't know what to type, or blog, about - probably random musings, stories from on set, or maybe off the wall comments about films I've seen! Who knows! Only time will tell! I guess I can start with a little about me? The name's April Washko. I'm an actress - or, professional keeper of multiple personalities. I love what I do, have met many amazing people, and a wundaful group of projects later here I am!

I wasn't meant to be born in this day and age - I'm a crazy passionate lover of all things classic Hollywood. Lucille Ball is my hero - her talent is inspirational, not to mention legendary. Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra are my favorite artists, and it's a tie between 'Some Like It Hot', 'The Big Street' and 'Gone With the Wind' as my favorite film. I could throw other films in there, but that'd be a list a mile long since I'm indecisive as hell. So - I'm going with those. ;)

I have a great team around me. Which is key to any career, entertainment or otherwise. Being positive, inspired, and uplifted by those around you to do the best that is in you and be the best you can be. To yourself, as well as those around you.

Anywhoo - thanks for stopping by! Talk to you all soon!

Best,
April