Tuesday, April 04, 2006

YES!! One of my favorite days of the year – the day I get my taxes done. Why? Well, it’s usually a very good day. My tax preparer, Laura L. Stewart, has always made my visits an uplifting experience. Now I haven’t always felt this way about getting my taxes done, but Laura changed all of that…..it’s a long story, really long, LOL!

Anyway, she understands the entertainment industry and guides me in the right direction concerning my business as a performer. I always leave her office feeling like I accomplished something during the previous year. Maybe it’s because I see exactly how the numbers lined up for my business. Don’t get me wrong, they are not large numbers by any means, but they are “my” numbers and I solely make my living as a performer. It just kinda does something to see what I can deduct as operating expenses and what I invested in my future over the previous year.

Even years ago it was always interesting to me to hear other aspiring actors say “it’s like running your own business”. I would think to myself “No, it IS running your own business”. This is as real as it gets. My earnings as a performer are reported to the IRS just like when I worked at Old Navy or The Standard or anywhere else.

Part of our conversation always leads to real estate. I’m trying to position myself to jump in the world of a mortgage. It’s something that I need and want to do if I’m going to stay in Los Angeles. This “rent thing” is for the birds. After Laura calculated my refund she plugged in some numbers to show me what my return would be if I was buying instead of renting. It just convinced me more that I need to leave the world of renting an apartment.

Some things I am super aggressive about and others I just take baby steps forever! Ugh!! I’ve been talking about real estate for a while to my friends, but I need to step it up and face it head on. I think it’s time. It was just so exciting to hear her talk about how she purchased her home. I thanked her for the pep talk and told her that our conversation was going to be instrumental in me having a great day.

Laura L. Stewart
Overflow Tax Services
Registered Tax Preparer
Bonded – Experienced
(818) 219-3071
11914 Kling St #2
North Hollywood, CA 91607

Afterwards I went to 2 of my 3 favorite places to shop, Costco & Target the other being the 99 Cents Only Store. I was shopping for my new place!!! At least in my head I was. At Costco I saw a bedroom set and it looked almost foreign to me. I’ve been living in this studio here in LA for almost 8 years. I haven’t had a chest or a dresser since I left Virginia Beach in ’95! The notion of having a bedroom would just do crazy things to me. I wouldn’t know what to do with so much room and I’m only talking about a 1 bedroom condo. Buying would be so inspiring for me to continue to move in a positive direction…….I think.

Here is where reality sets in. Real estate prices in Southern California are legendary. We all know that. But you know what? I refuse to believe I can’t join the club of homeowners or at least having a mortgage. Yeah, doubling what I pay now in rent sounds like an insane undertaking and it is….BUT, I think I’ve been looking at it the wrong way. I’ll find a way to make it work. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Find a way to make it work. That is exactly what I have done in my career. I have found a way to make it work.

When I consider the number of people who come to this town every month to be professional actors it gives me confidence. And it should. I can’t think of many more difficult ways of making a living; yet I have been relatively successful. Go figure. Can buying a condo be more difficult than making a living as an actor? I doubt it. I know people who have bought property in the last couple of years and if they can do it I can too! I think THAT is how I should be thinking. That way of thinking got me out of Virginia Beach, that way of thinking got me out of New York and that way of thinking will get my narrow ass in a condo! For starters. I have much bigger plans than just a 1 or 2 bedroom condo.

I am so excited these days! I feel I have real snap in my step; like I’m really eager to get things done. I remember when I was a waiter at The Harley-Davidson Café in New York. The young lady I was dating at the time was a hostess who had been promoted to a server. One night there was a shift where I was her assigned trainer and the manager commented on how fast I moved on the floor.

Greet my tables!
Would you like that in an HDC souvenir glass?
Get drinks at the bar!
Get your side work done!
How long on table 45?
Can I get you another Sam Adams?
Would you like that wrapped to go?
Check Please!
Well, hopefully next time you’re in The City you’ll stop back in and see us. Bye!

They asked me why I was in such a hurry. I’m thinking “Do I really move that fast?” I wasn’t aware of it, but I thought about it later. It was because I was so happy to be working there; it was like the greatest job! Ha! I used to come into work 45 minutes early in the morning to make sure everything was set up right. Yeah my time waiting tables in New York was great! As a server, I was running my own business. I felt I was largely responsible for the outcome of my shift and what I earned; I wanted her to feel the same way. She turned out to be a great waitress.

After leaving Costco and Target I did some drop-offs and even dropped a few of my new zed cards to some places where I’ve been to print go-sees in the past. That snap in my step feels great. I even called my dentist called to prepare for some extensive dental work I am trying to budget. I also talked to my little brother about Money Market accounts, Certificates of Deposit and his idea of building a strip mall back home.

The other day I got a letter from one of my former agents who left the business to spend more time with her daughter. She has since partnered with her husband as a Real Estate agent. It’s funny, because when I said goodbye to her on her last day at the agency she said maybe one day I’ll be another kind of agent for you.

CUT TO: A couple of years later.

This evening I called her at home to catch up with all that has happened since we last spoke and to talk real estate. It may not seem like a big deal, but it was HUGE to me to get these thoughts out of my head and into the space of a professional. Even though it was just an informal conversation it was great for me. This was the next step I needed to make. I’m still going to move at “my pace”, but I now know what my next move is.

Obviously, if I’m going to purchase something I have to bring in more income. Last October I decided that at the end of the year I’d take a break from casting director workshops. I’d done a lot of them over the years, mostly at Actorsite, and they’ve been an absolutely incredible investment in my career. I'm sure I'll do more workshops in the future, but right now I'm changing my approach a little. So I studied at Amy Lyndon’s for several months and then I started a commercial class @ Carolyne Barry’s. I need to tighten up my game, so that’s what I am doing. Also, hopefully this brand new energy in the print arena will lead to another revenue stream. I am thinking more about consulting too. I’ve been saying that forever. I do consult on occasion, but I should be doing it more.

I wonder if the snap in my step will wake me up to go to the gym in the morning…..hmmm. I doubt it.

1 comment:

Cups of Tea and Cucumber Sandwiches said...

Your blog is fascinating. I knew a cast member in Samelling A Rat and was googling the reviews and came across your site.

I trained as an actor years ago and left the business in 1993. Your energy and enthusiasm after all this time on your blog is catching. I just did a short film and I think I have developed the 'acting bug' again!

Congratulations on your success so far and the best of luck for the future. I'll be sure to keep up to date with your posts. You started your blog in 2004 (same as me) and wow you have written alot!

Way to go.