By: Guest Blogger Sarah duRivage-Jacobs, follow her on Twitter @sdurivagej
Sarah is a New York based actress who hails from a small hippie town right outside of DC. She received her undergraduate training at Towson University and continued her training at T. Schreiber Studio in New York City. She also studied improv at the People’s Improv Theatre. Favorite roles include Marcy in “Dog Sees God,” April in “Hot L Baltimore,” and Sunny in “Attempted Harmonies,” which is currently vying for the top spot at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Winter One Act Festival.
These past couple of months, I’ve been the luckiest actor in the whole wide world, and believe you me, I don’t say things like that lightly. Okay, maybe not EXACTLY the luckiest. No, I’m not starring opposite Bradley Cooper, thanks for reminding me. No, my dad isn’t Bruce Willis. Okay, fine, I’m at the very least one of the luckiest actors in the whole wide world. Do you know why this is? It’s because I’m working on a play with some of my absolute best friends! (Playwright Stephanie Iscovitz’s “Attempted Harmonies” currently in the semi-finals at the Manhattan Repertory Theater)
In this business, collaboration is key: I thank my lucky stars every day for having such amazingly talented friends. One of my dear friends in the industry was kind enough to write a role for me in a play she was working on. The result has been the most stress-free rehearsal and performance process to date. The desire to do well is certainly alive and well – of course you want to represent yourself and your friends in the best possible light – but when acting is boiled down to its best bits, the whole thing is fun beyond belief.
In order to have good collaborations you do need to be in a creative environment. The great thing about New York is that there are so many like-minded, crazily ambitious people. This can obviously be a double-edged sword, as typically actors are in some form or another pegged against each other for specific roles, which is – you guessed it! – stressful. But when you take out all the catty drama and the competition, acting is just fun. When you’re working with people you love and respect, it can only be a positive experience.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: you can, and should, create your opportunities. In a city where opportunity can seem frighteningly scarce, creating your own work with people you trust is often the best option. Who can write a better part for you than your own friends, or even yourself?
Mindy Kaling – who I find to be one of the best comedic actresses and writers on TV today – was disappointed in the types of roles she was likely to get, so she took it upon herself to write her own parts. Forcing yourself to fit into an archetype for every audition can make you feel like you have to hide what makes you unique. When you write for yourself, or collaborate with peers, the result is doubly specific and special. Why wait around for someone to give you your big break when you can put it together yourself? You want to be the romantic lead? Write yourself a scene with Patrick Wilson! (Like Lena Dunham did in season 2 of “Girls”). Anything you can do to set yourself apart or build your reel is great. So get to a nearby Starbucks and start creating!