Hi there. My name is Rhianna. I am a writer and an actor, and this is my blog.
I used to have a blog for my writing called Kill All Your Darlings and I loved it. I wrote random articles on whatever I wanted and paired them with wonderful photography by my boyfriend. I wrote about food, family, friends, and funny stuff. All the F words, except fashion. I suck at fashion.
I also had another website for my acting stuff. This is where I kept my headshots, resume, reel, etc.. I loved that one too, but mostly because Zach—previously mentioned boyfriend—made it for me as a present. At midnight on my twenty-eighth birthday I was half asleep when the sound of pebbles pinging off my window alerted me to a visitor. When I finally roused myself awake enough to look down, there was Zach, standing on the sidewalk wearing the sweetest grin I’ve ever seen and holding a chocolate cupcake with a lit candle in it like a mini love torch. He’d driven two hours to be with me on my birthday and to show me the website he had made as my gift. I melted. A few hours later, he got in his car and drove two hours back the way he had came so he could be at work the next morning. It was the ultimate romantic gesture, a scene straight out of a movie. I still remember how the moon above and the street lamps below created a perfect exposure of his handsome face—which I’m sure he planned, since he’s a cinematographer.
So you see, I had two sites I was very fond of, but eventually these two places in the cyber world began to dig a real-life divide within me. Their separation started to symbolize a big problem I had as an artist. A problem I’ve always had. To write, or to act—that is the question.
You might be saying to yourself, “Hey, do both! Why not? Have it all! Lots of artists do that.”
Yeah, yeah. I hear ya. But saying it...is so much easier than doing it. Let me explain:
Acting makes me proud of myself and I’m good at it. It makes my blood buzz. Acting is my drug of choice and I never feel as excited or vital as I do when I’m on stage or filming in front of camera. Acting also takes a lot of dedication and time. This includes studying, researching, memorization, rehearsals, auditions, blocking, scene work, character work, body work, etc. If you’re going to do it right, acting is a full-time gig. It also takes a lot of energy and leaves very little energy for anything else. Acting is my cardio and every project is a marathon.
Writing, on the other hand, is the muscle of my soul. On the days I work on my novel or an article I want to pitch, ten, sometimes twelve hours go by where I’m so into my story and my characters I forget to eat, pee, or acknowledge other humans in the same room. Writing is my calling and I can feel my self worth get stronger every time I lean into a story and disappear through the curtain of my brain. Writing makes me a typing, mystic ninja. Writing keeps me grounded. On days where I reach my word count, I sleep that night in clouds of contentment. Nothing makes me feel as vindicated a member of the human race as writing does. Writing is my strength training.
Here lies the problem: If I’m going to be healthy as an artist, I NEED both, but one inevitably makes me too tired to do the other. How can I do both and still pay my rent, take showers, and sleep and stuff?
This is where Amy Poehler comes into play.
*Full Disclosure: This will not be the last time I write about Amy Poehler in this blog. It won’t even be the last time I talk about her today.
I won’t go into detail about my history of loving Amy Poehler and my new found obsession with everything she does—I’ll save that for another post. What I will go into detail about is Chapter 26 of her book YES PLEASE.
I recently purchased the audio version of this autobiography for a short road trip I was taking— and because I had just finished a big Parks and Recreation binge and was needing a little somethin’, somethin’ to bring me down from my T.V. high. Poehler’s voice, telling me stories from her own book, seemed like the perfect fix.
I was truly unprepared for the effect YES PLEASE would have on me. I laughed, I cried, I had to pullover and take a break to collect myself I was so moved—I was also driving to meet my dad and I didn’t want him to think someone had died when I got out of the car sobbing from all the feels. There were several instances I had to pause the player to catch my breath I was laughing so hard I gave myself the hiccups.
In the re-telling of her life and career so far, Amy Poehler makes it clear that one should not suffer fools. She is unapologetically feminist and lays down some badass truth bombs on everyday bullshit. She also makes sure the readers know that the things she believes in most are being kind to others, being in the moment, and being yourself.
I fist pumped a whole lot while listening to YES PLEASE.
In Chapter 26—I will not give you a play by play of everything she says because I want you to read it, or listen to it yourself, but I will summarize—she likens your “career” to a bad boyfriend. She goes on to enumerate all the ways your career can treat you poorly. How it will cheat on you, make you feel ugly, flirt with other people, fill you with self doubt, be abusive physically and emotionally, take all your money, wreck your car...you get the picture. That’s why Amy Poehler thinks you should ignore your career and practice ambivalence towards it. Your career does not care about you, and therefore you should not care about it. Your love for your career will always be a one-way relationship.
But your CREATIVITY? Ahhh, that’s the good stuff. Creativity keeps you going because it’s “connected to your passion” according to Poehler. Creativity feeds you and fills you up because it’s something you love. Your career makes you feel alone, but your creativity assures that you will never be lonely. She likens your creativity to “a really warm, older hispanic lady who has a beautiful laugh and loves to hug, and if you are even a little bit nice to her, she will make you feel great and maybe cook you delicious food.”
In summary, your career is out of your control and—if you’re an actor or writer—90% dependent on other people’s opinions. Your creativity is 100% controlled by you.
The metaphor that Poehler describes spoke particular truth to me because right now, as a woman in my early 30’s, I spend most of my time fighting for control.
This is not to say I am unhappy. On the contrary, sometimes I feel so content with how my life has turned out, I could burst into a million pieces of sparkly confetti; but I am a very stressed out person. I am a perpetually frazzled, anxiety ridden, worry wort.
I play the age game, I let career comparison get the best of me, and the menial tasks of my life get in the way of my living it. More times than I would like to admit, my lack of feeling in control ruins a lot of happy moments. And all this worry and stress I’ve had about splitting my time between writing and acting has been a huge culprit in my fight for control. I can’t tell you how many days/months/years I have lost not doing anything because of how much I needed to get done.
So from here on out, I am letting go of control concerning my careers, and I am embracing my creativity like the much missed Peaches ‘N Cream barbie I lost when I was six-years-old.
And yes, this website and blog will still be tools I use to promote my careers, but like Poehler says, “You have to care about your work, but not about the result.”
From now on, I won’t wallow in the possibility of my careers’ futures. They are out there in the world for all to see and I will continue to work on the craft of each diligently, but their successes will not define me. Instead, I will focus on what I love most about them both: being CREATIVE. Starting today, creativity is the goal–whether it be about acting or writing—because when creativity is the end result the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, which is why they share a website now.
At the end of the day, I am more than just an actress and a writer, I am an artist. An artist guided by the muse of creativity...the muse and Amy Poehler, because Amy Poehler is awesome.
Welcome to www.rhiannavanhelton.com