thi.nguyen

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Recent thoughts

Ugh. Next week I turn 30. And I’ve been very emotional lately. There’s the whole, my body is actually changing. I get gassy when I eat dairy. I have grey hairs. I get hangovers. It takes me much longer to heal from anything. There’s ALSO the whole I’m nowhere near where I thought I would be at 30. No career, no long-term relationship that can lead to marriage, no money, no health insurance, no 401k, no property. NOTHING.

I know the path I chose is harder than most. And I swear everyone and their effing mom has an opinion on my career path — I recently was told I’m delusional and am using the “I’m following my dream” to not have to hold myself accountable for my arrested development.

Look, I was valedictorian in middle school. I was nominated for Homecoming Queen by the boys water polo team. I was runner up for Most Likely to Make You Laugh in high school. I went to UCLA, took on at least 19 or more units/quarter and graduated Cum Laude with a quarter to spare. I have a freakin Masters in Spanish and am fluent in three languages. This was all accomplished by 22. I was projected to do great things.

SO HOW DID I GET HERE? I’m not proud of where I am right now and I think it’s because of my projections of myself when I was 22. My 22 year old self is severely disappointed in myself now.

There’s a thing called SATURN RETURNS where it takes 30 years for Saturn to finish its rotation around the sun. Big changes tend to happen when you’re about 30, 60 and 90. I see that everywhere around my group of friends right now. We’re all turning 30 and a lot of my friends are either getting married, having babies, getting promoted, or even quitting that job they got straight out of college and traveling and rethinking a different career path. CHANGE. REBIRTH. 

SO WHAT? My biggest change happened after 22. When I decided to leave a laid out path of measurable success (school-job-money-security) for the unpredictable and dark non path of acting. Instead of walking on an already paved path, I have to figure out a path from A to B in the dark, while using a shovel I’ve never used before nor have the upper body strength to use it efficiently. Hence the slow and immeasurable progress of this stupid acting career. I swear I’m either really stupid or really crazy.

But Saturn Returns can also mean DEATH. Perhaps a death of something to make room for something else? The same friend that told me I was delusional in pursuing acting as a profession, suggested that maybe this isn’t the path for me. That because I’m so focused on it, I’m blinded from any opportunity that is coming.

But opportunity doesn’t come from nothing. Opportunity has to come from work. And I haven’t worked towards anything else but acting. If I were to quit acting now, I would have no focus. No passion. No direction. That’s too bleak. So acting is the answer. I’m already doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

SO WTF IS THE PROBLEM??! In my teens and early 20s, I was accomplishing a lot and succeeding at a fast rate. I was used to that and carried that projection and expectation of myself into now. When I compare myself and my present to that 22 year old projection, I am deeply saddened. I think to myself that I am about to turn 30 and I have nothing worth celebrating.

And then I remember how STUPID my 22 year old self was. She was writing everything in lowercase. Everything, even her name. Ugh. How annoying. She easily felt the pressures of FOMO. She needed to party party party. Instant gratification. Always impatient, always wanting it NOW! She was exhausting.

Now in my later 20s and about to be in my 30s, I find life to be richer when lived slower. Referring to my last post “Community” where I talk about my first year of Burning Man to my second year, my 22 year old self was the yoloing burnt out first year while myself now is the smell the flowers, make time for the sunrise, tea sipping second year.

So what’s going to be my Saturn Returns? Am I getting married? NOPE. Am I having a kid? NOPE. Am I changing career paths. FUCK NO. I think it’s going to be the DEATH of the 22 year old’s unfair and unrealistic projection of my 30 year old self. She was expecting me to have it all by now assuming that I would stay on the laid out path. She didn’t take in consideration that I decided to dig and find my own path. Which does take longer but that’s OK! With this death, I can actually accept and embrace that success might come later, much later. And it’s OK! Life will be felt deeper. Richer. Fuller.

See, Sarah Paulson who just won an Emmy has some career advice: Don’t Succeed So Early.  I think I’m gonna be alright. :]


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be like batman

where have i been?

when the new year came around, it came with so many expectations. i had many expectations.  and i guess i didn’t want to write anything down out of fear that those expectations would not be met. some might say to not expect anything. but i’m going to have to disagree with that. not expecting anything allows for mediocrity. i won’t allow that, especially not for myself.

but, instead of setting the bar and aiming to reach it for the new year, i stalled. i distracted myself. i avoided facing my non existent career. i played these old video games that i grew up on. lucasarts games – grim fandango, loom, indiana jones, the dig, etc. (which btw i can’t wait for the revamp of day of tentacle and kings quest, hollaaaa) and though playing these games were enjoyable, i couldn’t help noticing that the reason i love these games so much is because they are so rich in character and story.

i yearn to be part of great storytelling. it’s emotional, it’s vibrant and visceral. it is what motivates me.  but amidst all great storytelling out there, whether it’s through movies, television, books and radio, or even your next door neighbor because everyone has a story, i got insecure. who am i to contribute to great storytelling? i should quit right now because people out there are already doing it and they’re killing it.

if i had any expectations for myself, it was the expectation of not getting any auditions, of not booking anything this year, of perpetuating my non existent career. so fuck it, let’s get out of here, right? let’s make the expectation of my non existent career into a reality. and with that thought process, it came true. i left for viet nam, easily. in the middle of pilot season. i was supposed to go with two other friends, but in the end they couldn’t make it because of work.

although i had a great time in viet nam (when in rome right, #yolo), i couldn’t help but envy the friends that couldn’t make it. they gave up the trip for their career. for something to further their career, their dream. i didn’t have that. because i didn’t expect it for myself.

the other day i was listening to this podcast on thisamericanlife. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/544/batman. it was about expectations. specifically, the reporters investigated the question of if people’s expectations can change whether a blind man can see. this was a very powerful podcast and i would totally suggest you to listen to it. i mean come on, it’s called “batman”. my takeaway from hearing it was this, (spoiler alert!) yes. people’s expectations of you can alter what you can do. because non blind people expected blind people to be limited, many blind people became helpless. except for this guy they called batman. hahah yes!

how this relates to me? i have to stop expecting myself to lose. non actors expect wannabe actors to fail.  so if people expect us to fail, we will. we have.  look at the odds! or actually, better yet, let’s NOT look at the odds. let’s NOT do this myself! let’s be like batman. to ultimately see without sight.

batman


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the business of acting

so lately i’ve been taking workshops and classes on the business of acting.  the main things i’ve gathered is making and building relationships, specificity, and a positive attitude.

building relationships: this is key.  especially with casting directors/associates/assistants.  they’re not the gate keepers to my success, they’re my biggest supporter.  i went to this workshop that talked about breakdowns.  a breakdown is when a project needs casting, it’s posted online, and actors can submit themselves (or agents/managers submit them) electronically.  anyways, within 30 minutes, i saw a live post get over 1500 submissions.  jeez louise.  i felt sorry for casting directors because they have to look through all those profiles, reels, headshots, etc. to fill in that one spot.  for actors, it’s a crap shoot … if you don’t know the casting director.  you’re just another one in the pile.  that’s why it’s best to build relationships.  if i can build a relationship with a casting director, he/she may even think of me for a role (that i’d be perfect for) even before the part is posted.  thus, making their life easier, and me with an audition.  they don’t want to look through 1500 submissions. nobody does.

specificity: i have to know what casting directors i want to know and which ones should know me.  i’m a particular brand. i look very young, so my brand is the quirky student/friend that can be seen in shows like vampire diaries and the secret life of an american teenager.  so, i have to target casting directors of those specific shows.  by being specific, i have a method of going about my career, instead of slipping my headshots and resumes in random car window shields.  being specific also helps with acting.  when given a role to audition, you’re usually competing with many people that look like you and can read.  so what makes you different?  the choices you make for that particular role.  the attitude, the mannerisms, the character.  an actor is not about reading and memorizing lines, but bringing a character from paper to life.

positive attitude: if you can visualize it, you can do it.  and i can, most definitely.  of course it’s hard to stay positive when the industry is saturated with bad people trying to take advantage of you and bring you down.  but it’s also up to us to let all that shit effect us or not.  there’s a lot of good people out there too and fortunately for me, i’ve had a lot of people root for me: friends, family, and industry people.  there’s enough roles for everyone!

i guess with all this in mind, it makes the whole career choice not as bleek and hopeless.  i just have to trust in myself and the universe and everything will be ok 🙂