As a writer, I’m learning that a successful column is made up of two parts. The first is its content. It’s my job to sit behind my laptop and pound out something “good”. But regardless of the content, most writing needs an audience. Therefore, the second part of a successful column is an actively engaged readership.
Even a negative response is sometimes better than no response at all. I liken it to performing a sit-com before a live studio audience. More than awkward laughter or a collective groan, the real killer is dead silence. A Chevy Chase film shooting in Romania had this exact problem. Ninety-five percent of the crew were locals who didn’t speak English. So when they rehearsed, the actors had no reactions to help gauge their comic choices.
In my case I’m happy to say that I hear from an increasing number of you. My online address has been listed at the end of each column; not as an afterthought but to welcome your voice to a larger conversation. Thanks for jumping in. I’m listening. Your e-mails have been incredibly insightful, articulate, generous, and warm.
On that note, I’d like to introduce you to some of your fellow readers. It’s an opportunity to get to know them, support their self-generated projects, and hear what they think. Much like yourself, these people are multi-talented, accomplished, and add new dimension to the topics we’ve covered so far.
Talkback: “Know What You Want”
In “Know What You Want” I expressed the importance of making happiness a daily practice. This differs from viewing happiness as a piece of cheese at the end of a long labyrinth to stardom. I also addressed the frustration that can result if professional progress seems slow. A number of you shared your thoughts (quotes edited for length and clarity).
Talented comic actress Zena Leigh Logan had this to say: “Even though the words you wrote are what I firmly believe in and practice, it's so wonderful to read it from someone else and to be reminded that I am not the only one who gets tempted to feel discouraged.” Clearly, those temptations have not slowed her momentum. Her sketch comedy group “Foe Pa” can be seen on the internet and in live performances; the “Department of Homeland Security” video is hysterical! Check out www.foepa.com and catch their next show on June 8th.
The same article resonated for actress Lori Stone. She felt that “It was very insightful and came to me in perfect time. Just what I 'needed' to remind myself...so thanks for reminding me.” I was really honored to receive this feedback. Thank you, Lori.
Dancer Bobbi Michelle also dropped me a kind e-mail. She’s another person who is taking the reigns of her own career. Bobbi is the owner and director of FRDC: Fashionate Rhythm Dance Company. These performers have taken Latin American dance and fused it with other genres to create their own signature style. And in partnership with Bebe clothing, FRDC incorporates fashion in their performances. They’ve been seen on Univision, Telemundo, and perform extensively. (To book them, visit www.frdanceco.com.)
Talkback: “Season of the Celebrity Meltdown”
Last month’s column was entitled “Season of the Celebrity Meltdown” In it, I wondered why a number of our celebrity colleagues spin out of control. Readers responded with some sharp observations. Parnell Damone had a strategy to squelch celebrities from acting out. “I've been saying for years now, that if the studios stopped indulging these ‘stars’ so much, a lot of this bad behavior could be nipped in the bud.” In lieu of waiting for studios to intervene, actor Kevin Hoffer was ready to make some changes in himself:
We do not hear about the honorable actions taken by actors and celebrities. George Clooney goes to Darfur with his father, visits the UN and tries to make a difference. It barely registers as a blip on the news, if at all. The entertainment media, including the "news", will focus on the inane, dangerous and sexy. So for me personally, I have to turn away from these voyeuristic exploits and endless replays of bad behavior. I need to focus on those who are doing the upright thing, and remember to model myself after them.
John and Amanda Ball felt that the sordid high-jinx of famous figures was a direct reflection of their upbringing. “All good qualities are acquired in the home as we are being raised” they asserted. “If these celebrities haven’t learned common sense, decency, and respect for the rest of the world, I’m afraid they never will; this is sad! So many people look at them as role models.”
Dr. Cheryl Bryant Bruce (www.elitepersonalphysician.com) is a personal physician and had a different take. She contends that celebrities get a raw deal and that the viewing audience bears responsibility:
Celebrities have the burden of having to be perfect in the eyes of their fans. But while the public holds them to these high expectations, they eagerly wait for these same stars to become the next tabloid fodder. While it would be nice if celebrities could serve as perfect role models for young people, most of us fall short of doing that for our own children. Why should we expect that of stars?
Recently, Celeste Sullivan had a couple questions about “the industry”. We traded e-mails and I answered her questions to the best of my ability. She sent me this follow-up:
Often times, we become convinced that we should know everything. Thus, the simplest of questions become fearful to ask. Thanks a bunch and keep on spreading the knowledge. We all need each other.
That last statement is such an important fact. Since we are so accustomed to competing with each other, it’s easy to forget that we are fundamentally a community galvanized by shared vision and talent. As such, we have the opportunity to be each other’s greatest source of support, knowledge, and professional growth. It’s beyond what feels good; it has immense practical value.
For my part, I’ll take this opportunity to thank you for your e-mails. You are a part of my community and I am glad we are in touch. It’s true. “We all need each other.” I need your readership. And this world needs your talent; in whatever way you choose to express it, no matter how large or small the audience.
Talk back: email@example.com