Being 'In The Moment' Isn’t Just For Actors

Phil Rossi
Background ActorsChris Chow/Unsplash

Listening To Our Soul’s Anthem

After a few small roles in independent, short films, and an epic flop at producing my own feature, I figured acting wasn’t in the cards.

I let failure and the lack of progress derail and define me. I continued to write fiction and nonfiction, concentrating less on acting.

It took me years to realize that I was on solid ground and a steady path all along before I quit. Setbacks are part of the process. Failure is often disguised as a calling to up our game and improve our craft.

As life carried on, my fear of failure and unfulfilled dreams kept gnawing at me. Afraid I’d never take the plunge, I came across an article on twilight confessions and the ‘what if’ regrets of older folks facing death.

The recurring theme wasn’t the things people did and the mistakes they made. It was the aspirations they didn’t pursue that haunted these elderly people the most: I should have done this. I should have tried that.

Throughout my artistic journey, I never lost the zest to act. I also thought of moving to Los Angeles and making a go of it. If anything, removing a deathbed regret before it’s too late.

In the meantime, I began where I am, in the New York City area. Yup, right in front of me. Wouldn’t you know it?

These days, television production is at an all-time high in and around New York City. The opportunities are here, real, and limitless.

I joined, uploaded headshots, and posted my resume. Back in the game, I felt better already.

I’m not the one to tell you how to clear the rainbow, but I will point out the starting line — it’s called here and now. Wherever you are is the best time to begin. Ignore the static in your mind claiming it’s too late to start or resume a journey.

Living in the moment isn’t just for actors — it’s for all of us. For most, happiness isn’t a destination, it’s found along the way. How could anyone expect to reach zealous mode tomorrow, if not working on their hobbies, vocations, and desires today?

There’s tons of advice, self-help, and various quotes to help us out in times of need and trouble. Here’s one I always liked:

“Nobody knows anything.” — William Goldman

Think about it. Who among us knows the future? Where our decisions and actions will lead us is anybody’s guess.

If you believe in something, go for it. How do you know how many will see your film, read your novel, or follow your blog? How do you know if anyone will buy your goods, services, or demand your skills?

You don’t. And neither do the people claiming you need to read their books, buy their videos, or subscribe to their newsletters to ‘make it happen’.

Prior to the pandemic, I received this email from the casting team associated with The Food That Built America, a mini-series in the works by the History Channel.

Project — History Channel Mini Series
Your Official Call Time is 8:00 AM
Location: 2 52nd Street Brooklyn NY
MTA: 53 Street Station N/R

Hot dog! After my happy dance, I responded: Thank you for the opportunity to assist with your production. I look forward to seeing you on set. Regards, Phil.

Movie stars and mega-budgets might create more buzz, but in my experience, film sets aren’t as intimate. I’ve grown to love TV production and prefer it over movies.

Television production is a smaller scaled operation compared to movie sets with a faster work pace. As background actors are in-between scenes and wardrobe visits, the crew are usually blocking the scene and staging the set. The main actors are often going over their lines and movements with the director.

Once they’re ready, we’re called in and enter magical places. A Heinz factory in 1880s Pittsburgh. The offices of a business mogul in 1930s New York. The South Street Seaport for a modern-day crime drama.

Fog machines, rustic quarters, and time travel. Shoot-outs, car chases, and special ops. Moments where all the action and primary actors are within reach. Extras often have the luck to correspond with them on set — not for a selfie — as an actor in the scene. Cool beans for this cat.

I’m determined to book more background work and to land featured extra spots. To build confidence and experience, what the industry calls, ‘chops’.

I have also been invited to audition for small speaking roles and commercials. I’m also writing my own monologues. My journey has begun. It’s now on me to stay the course and keep the faith.

And I’m doing it, every day. Reading books on the craft and actor memoirs. Studying television, film, and commercial performance. I’m also reading articles, watching videos, and attending workshops.

Even when I’m home and offset, I’m working. Striving to be a better actor than I was yesterday while preparing for today. Eager and ready for that next phone call, text, or email — whenever it arrives.

I recently thought of a friend who passed away. The last time we spoke, we discussed life, dreams, and the like. When I confessed my anxiety over the uncertainty and negative feedback from others, this is what he said:

“Pay no attention to them or anybody else. All that matters is how you feel about it.”

Life, like art, is a process. Nobody knows how things will turn out or where the future will lead any of us — especially our dreams.

Each one of us has our own journey that is unique to us as well as our human essence and experience. That music inside you is yours and yours only. That personal playlist to guide you through life — your life.

Reflecting on those deathbed confessions, mortality, and desire to dream, I’m reminded of this one:

“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive safely at death.” — Mark Batterson

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Phil is a blogger interested in sports, culture, politics, and the art scene.

Hackensack, NJ

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