My Impostor Syndrome and Me
It's been awhile since I've seen myself on television. I hit a bit of a slump before the pandemic, then when things slowly got back up and running, I again hit a snag. Four years ago, I started teaching acting classes. I was beginning to think that I was destined to just be a teacher... that I couldn't possibly have both things that I love at once.
Because fuck me, right?
This line of thinking isn't a scheduling matter, or a work ethic matter, or, hell, even a talent matter. I KNOW I'm a good actor. I KNOW I'm a good teacher. And I KNOW I can walk and chew gum at the same time (if I do some breathing exercises and get centered first.) No no, it's another thing entirely.
Today's blog post is about Impostor Syndrome.
(Okay, first example - don't know if it's "impostor" or "imposter". Google says it's both and no matter what, I will feel stupid about it after I post this.)
First and foremost, you can catch me on CBS's FBI as Detective Banks tomorrow night (9/28/21) at 8pm EST. You can also catch me in a little role in the cold open of Blue Bloods on October 8th.
Fuck yes, right?!?
You're waiting for me to say something about the other shoe dropping, aren't you?
Of. The fuck. Course am I waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm an actor, god damnit. I purposely trigger myself for the amusement of others, stare deeply and lovingly into the eyes of rejection on a daily basis, and have watched just about every person from my childhood build their lives and careers and have babies and get divorced and buy boats and get rich off crypto stuff while I pine and doubt and wait for SOMETHING CONSISTENT to come through the pike.
ACTING IS FUN RIGHT.
Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating (I'm not). Those same people from my past commend me all the time - some completely out of the woodwork - telling me how much they admire what I'm doing, my sticktoitiveness (not a word), my perseverance (that's what sticktoitiveness means, dummy.)
If you've been one of those people who have, very kindly, sent me one of those messages, I cannot thank you enough.... but just know that when I read them, I'm probably imagining myself naked, covering my penis with both hands ("both"... yeah, okay lol), soaking-wet, shivering, in my high school gymnasium, packed-out with pointing-and-laughing bullies of my past, and women who have dumped me.
Again, I want to reiterate... I'm very confident that I am a damned-good actor and teacher. They don't let just anyone through the doors of HBO, NBC, Hulu, CBS, and more. I have a manager and several agents. I've auditioned for every major casting office in New York, and many of them bring me in routinely. I'm doing something right and I break my ass behind the scenes.
And I haven't even mentioned all the films I've made, screenplays I've written, the podcast I co-host and produce, and the many artists that I've mentored and influenced over the years.
Okay here's where the other shoe drops...
I am scared shitless. Every time I book something, there is zero escaping the wave of crippling fear I have that I will:
Forget my lines.
Miss my marks.
Accidentally look directly into the lens of the camera in the middle of a perfect-for-everyone-else take.
Mispronounce the director's name (which I've actually done, it was horrifying).
Put my foot in my mouth (see above).
Oversleep and miss my call time.
Be humiliated by a series regular or movie star and be forever scared off from acting.
Say my homophobic line of dialogue during a sound check, because that's what I thought I was supposed to do, in front of the gay wardrobe person, who will look at me with contempt and say "you know, you could just count to ten." (Also happened.)
Accidentally start a fire.
Have too much coffee and crap my pants in the middle of the scene because I'm too scared to ask for a bathroom break because I can't be the guy holding up the next shot because I'm not important enough to do so.
Film my stuff, feel great about it, then get cut from the episode after I tell my friends, family, and social media about it (still haven't been added to the episode's IMDb page yet, so stay tuned!)
Slip on a banana peel in an unfortunately precise manner which has my hand accidentally land on another human in the wrong place and I get fired and blackballed for sexual misconduct.
Or, I don't know, just stink at acting that day.
All the noise. All the voices.
It doesn't help matters that the last time I was on TV - a bit part on Hulu's Wu-Tang: An American Saga, which was such an honor to do as a native Staten Islander - a lot of people reached out to congratulate me, but here are the two most prominent memories I have post-airing:
1- One person texting "you really nailed playing the out-of-shape cop chasing the bad guy."
2- A deadbeat relative using a quote from Pulp Fiction to sneak in the N word about a character in the scene.
The impostor's translation:
1- You're too fat for TV.
2- You come from trash and don't deserve this.
(Yes, I called out the racist relative. No impact was made.)
I generally have no idea how these writings will end. I usually find my epiphany about 3/4 though. My epiphany today is acceptance. I accept that my impostor is a part of me. I accept that he will do everything he can to fuck me up.
I also accept that I can take him in a fight.
All I can do is keep showing up, working hard, having gratitude for the fruits of my labor, and BREATHING. Fucking breathing.
The day I shot FBI, my first day on set in almost two years, I wrote this in my morning pages:
"Dear Impostor Syndrome,
Sorry, I don't have a plus one today.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 160 crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 1-800-273-8255. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.