12 Oct 2010

My Career?

14 Comments Career

I want to share with you a story about what it’s like to be me in this glamorous town of Hollywood.

About 12 years ago, I started working professionally, and I’ve been fortunate enough to make my living at it ever since. However, I’ve probably been turned down for 100 jobs, for every one job I’ve gotten. It’s a rough road, this road I’ve chosen. And to be frank… I’m tired of it.

Let’s back up a step, shall we? I’m a dork. I’m not one of those adorable dorks who’s really pretty and tall and perfect and just says she’s a dork because she likes to read non-fiction and knows about Star Wars. I’m one of those dorky dorks who was never popular in high school and always felt a step behind everyone in everything I did.  I still do.  I was lucky enough to know at a very young age what I wanted to be, but I never felt I was as good as it as other people. Then I discovered comedy and I felt as good as I needed to be, so I stayed there. And 15 years later I started working.

My first major role was on Seinfeld and it was amazing and terrifying and magical. My friends threw a huge party when it aired, and I thought, “This is the beginning”. It wasn’t. I waited tables a bit longer and then I booked MadTV as a series regular. This was another exercise in me feeling “Less Than” everyone else. I was clearly good enough to be there, but I didn’t ever really fit in. I was on the outside, watching everyone else get laughs and fame. I took what little scraps I was given and was let go after a season. It sounds like I’m whining, and I am a little bit, but I want to make it clear that part of it is my own fault. I’m really bad at playing the games you have to play to get somewhere in this business. I always have been.

Time went by and I booked a lot of guest star parts, then I began getting hosting work. But intermixed with all those jobs were about 100 or 1000 auditions that went “really well”, but I just wasn’t “right for the part”. No one ever gets a straight answer on why they aren’t right for a part. So you start thinking things like, “I must be really ugly”, or fat or bad or not funny or too short or too tall or badly dressed or… JUST AWFUL AT EVERY FUCKING THING I DO. It’s nearly impossible to not get a complex unless you just believe in your abilities and looks so much that nothing can ever get you down.  I’ve never met one of these people. So years of rejection can really mess a person up.  And even though it seemed like I was working a ton, it was hard to not focus on all the work I WASN’T getting. Plus, to be frank, I wasn’t getting really high-paying work.  I got close. But I never booked that stuff. I’d “test” for sit-com leads, but never get them. Something wasn’t clicking.

In my early to mid-thirties, something happened.  I stopped caring. I was grateful, but never celebratory, about the work I was getting. And I stopped feeling dejected every time I was rejected. I was working a lot and it was all a lot less depressing than it used to be. I found that the women I was up against at auditions were all much nicer and more supportive than they were in their twenties, too.  It’s like being older was mellowing all of us and we had more important things to do than compete against each other.  And, even though it was all getting easier, I still felt like the dork on the outside.

Then I had a kid and everything went haywire. It was like I couldn’t care less if I ever worked again. My mommy hormones were telling me that the only thing in the world I should worry about were breast-feeding and cuddling and bathing this beautiful baby.  I liked those hormones a lot.  But then somehow I started getting work THROWN at me!  I began guest-hosting Clean House when Garrett was about six-months-old. I was also hosting a show for Comedy Central, and pumping milk whenever I was given a break. I was enjoying work, but really only thinking about getting home to my son and husband. Breast feeding stopped when G was a little over a year, and those hormones started to fade. But the overwhelming desire to work never really returned. I booked a “Weeds” and a “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, and that made me crave a bit more, but whenever I was home I felt like that was where I wanted to be. Every time I went out on an audition and didn’t get it, I was mad that I even got dressed up, drove however long to God-knows-where, and wasted my time.  Plus, all the accolades I was getting on the jobs I was doing,weren’t adding up to any more work on those shows. I always feel like that stuff happens for other people, but not for me.

Then I got more work on Clean House and my own show on the Style Network. Even with all this, I felt like the dork I’ve always felt like. I was always just “filling in” for the main host on Clean House, and I felt like I was being someone I wasn’t meant to be on the other show. I didn’t feel pretty enough, stylish enough or “best girlfriend” enough to be in the role I had been put in… And again, I was desperately missing my family and home.  The hours on the show were nuts, and many days I wouldn’t see Garret at all. I’m realizing at this moment that this all probably sounds “poor me”.  I don’t mean for it to sound that way, I just want to tell you what it’s like for me in this “business”.

Then came a very slow period. Actually, if you’re not working at all, is that called “slow”? Sure. Let’s go with it.  So, in the middle of this slow period my father got sick and then passed and I found myself mired in family business and mourning and sadness and muck.  I was very grateful to not have a job because I wouldn’t have been able to focus on what I needed to do.  Now it’s been a considerable amount of time without work, and I like it.  I like grocery shopping and doing laundry and writing my blog.  I need to learn how to manage my time better, but that’s another story.  I enjoy being here to take Garrett to school and pick him up and hang out and play and just be a mom.  But here’s where it gets confusing:

I had an audition yesterday for one of my favorite shows. It’s a brilliant, funny show and it’s an audition people would kill to get.  All of a sudden, I found myself caring again… Wanting the job.  I kicked ass at the audition and got great feedback.  Then I heard it was between myself and one other person.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten news like this.  And you know how many of those times I’ve been the one to get the job? Zero.  So my prospects weren’t good.  And I can tell you the names of almost every actress I’ve been up against in these scenarios. They’re nice girls, but I don’t like them. The part shot today.  I’m home writing this post.  Another time I was second choice.  Another time I’m just the dork on the outside looking in. Another time I got my hopes up and had them dashed.  And the irony is, I don’t want to care.  It’s a case of “Every time I try to get out, they just keep pulling me back in!” I kind of want out. And I kind of want in.  And that’s probably why I’m so on the outside.

Today I’m feeling frustrated and discombobulated. I want it to be time to pick up Garrett and take him to his haircut appointment so I can do what I’m probably best at. But I fear Garrett being in middle school a few years down the line, and me really being on the outside of things. I guess I’m confused.  I think I’d like to take some time just being a mom and figure out what it is I really want. Oh, and the one fly in the chardonnay is this:  No one’s paying me for taking G to get a haircut. If I could get paid to do this stuff… I’d never look at another script again.

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Lisa Arch likes being a working actress... but LOVES being a Mom!
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14 Responses to “My Career?”

  1. Reply Max says:

    It’s come to this. I actually had to come to your BLOG to see what was going on with you. This is far and away the most awesome and honest and real and true you’ve ever been publicly ever. I, for one, REALLY appreciate it, as both a friend and a fan and someone who’s ALWAYS been on the outside with only a very few exceptions, work-wise. You’re already playing your best role, doing you’re finest work. The rest is just residuals. But the residuals will never end or get smaller with Garrett. You get to only get richer. Look at you.

    • Reply Max says:

      And, I’m sorry, WHO told you it was between you and someone else? What good can come of that for anyone? That’s just really a dumb call to inform you of nothing prematurely like that.

  2. Reply Laura says:

    As someone who had the pleasure of meeting you at the CH yard sale in Wayne, NJ in January, I can tell you that you are not a dork. You are a beautiful, warm, friendly person. You come across as someone who would be an awesome girlfriend! I wanted to pull up a chair, grab some coffee and dish about life! I think everyone comes to a point in their life where they evaluate where they have been and who they still want to be. I have had plently of those moments in my chosen career of nursing. I come to a point where I can’t face one more shift, but when I try to think of something different to do, I always come back to nursing, but maybe in a different setting. Take the time to enjoy your beautiful boy because maybe this is what you are meant to be doing at this time in your life. Jobs truly do come and go. Your baby is only a baby one time…

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Max, I agree that I never need to know that I’m that close. It’s insanity and yet it keeps happening. And thank you for everything you said.

      Laura, thank you for stating that so perfectly. I so appreciate you using your own career as an example. It’s amazing how that just made so much sense to me. Even though our chosen careers are so different, we feel the same things. Beautifully put. Means a lot. And I know that what I’m doing now is what I’ve always been meant to do, at least it sure feels that way! Now it’s just a matter of seeing if I can do BOTH sometime in the future. Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll just wait and see.

  3. Reply AL says:

    Having no perspective on what a career as an actress would be; I totally believe and agree with what Max expressed! You have been able to be true to yourself, throughout, and that alone means success! You are living life, something so many only “think” they are doing and finding out much too late; what they thought was so important, so vital, was not.

    There are no coincidences in life, the older I am, the more I see that as true. Expect miracles, Lisa!

  4. Reply flawlessmom says:

    AL, your words mean so much to me. I’ll probably read this comment every day for a while. I think I’ll even post “Expect Miracles!” on my desk somewhere to look at. I have so much to be thankful for. Even on my crappiest days, there are miracles. I’m beyond blessed and grateful. Especially when I read other people’s stories and how gracefully they handle extremely hard times, heck extremely hard LIVES… I realize how little I have to complain about. The only reason I post this stuff is because it’s a blog about my life, and this is what my life is right now. Blessings and miracles all around.

  5. Reply MammothMom says:

    Ok – I have to be honest, the most compelling thing you mention in this entry for me is that you enjoy doing laundry? I’ve known you are a caring, loving, and thoughtful person, but I never knew how special you truly are until I read that sentence. You are my bona fide hero! I put up a great facade and make people believe I’m a wonderful mom and dedicated wife and pretty cool friend to hang out with but if people stepped into my laundry room…well, it’s not pretty. ’nuff said.
    Seriously, though, I think you’re pretty kick ass, no matter what it is you do.

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Okay, maybe that was an overstatement. I just meant I like doing all the things involved with being a mom and wife. Sometimes I actually do like it, though. By the way, if you walked into any room in my house right now, you’d think I just sit on the couch, watch reality TV, and eat pumpkin bread all day. And that’s only half true. 😉

  6. Reply Karleen says:

    Hey, I was directed to your Facebook page by your husband’s aunt, who is my cousin’s
    wife, if that makes any sense. Anyway, I then found your website and blog. I’m not a mother, never have been and actually never wanted to be. But I do enjoy writing and she thought I would enjoy reading your blog, which I have so far. Even not really relating to being a mother and certainly not an actress or public figure, I appreciate your honesty and openness as a person and as a woman. I agree with Al that there are no coincidences in life and everything has a purpose. It’s not always easy accepting that, though, and can be very frustrating in our pursuit to figure out the purpose. I’ll enjoy following you in your pursuit of finding what is right for you. I do know, however, even without being a mom, the importance of spending time with your child and letting him know how very much he is loved. Like you hinted at – it’s too bad you can’t get paid to just be that full time caregiver. After all, it is probably the most important job on the planet. Take care and keep writing.

  7. Reply Christine says:

    Hi Lisa. My computer crashed weeks ago, and it’s a royal bitch to type responses on my phone, but I do want to respond so please forgive my short, blunt response. Anyone who does not hire you is a complete ass. Having had the opportunity to watch you work was an absolute pleasure. You amazed me. You were professional and funny and so present. You are beautiful inside and out. You are wise and witty and caring and respectful. I wasn’t sure what working with celebrities would be like, but you were just so damn real. I have such respect for you and your craft. And the fact that you juggle it all with being a wife and mom just amazes me. I wish you every success, professionally and personally. And everytime I see you on a tv show or in a movie, I will be proud to tell my friends, “she was in my house, on my couch and even in my bedroom. “. Be happy always, no matter what role you play. And know that the wife and mom role is an awesome gig. ((hugs))

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Thanks, Christine! That is incredibly and ridiculously sweet. It was an honor to be in your house and to work with your family. You’re such lovely people. I hope all is well with you guys! (Are you getting help with the laundry?) LOL

      • Reply Christine says:

        Thanks. All is well. And yes I get plenty of help with the laundry. Bill and Kate wear it, make it dirty and put it in the laundry basket. Then I wash it, dry it, fold it and repeatedly tell them to put it away before I throw it away. And sometimes they actually do it. That’s sharing a chore 50/50 right? 😉

  8. Reply Glorifish says:

    Please tell me that you are going to take over the Host role on Clean House now that Niecy is levaing the show. I really like Neicy and I wish her well. The show does so much to help people and it is soooooo funny. You are a natural for this job.

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      So SWEET! Thank you. But… No. Tempestt Bledsoe is taking over. I loved my time there, and maybe I’ll fill in in the future. I so appreciate you saying that.

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