By Jennifer Rudolph
Last night I was reading a post in our very active support Facebook group The Green Lounge from one of my dedicated AGR'rs that brought tears to my ears. It's a real testament to the power of persistence, the importance of finding an advocate and forging relationships with everyone who crosses your path. I am a firm believer in the power of the universe - that the universe puts signs and lessons in front of us until we get them. That once you make a DECISION that the universe conspires to make it happen. That only YOU have the power to make it so and it's your job to find your power within to manifest everything you want. This is what we do at the CREATE Workshop on Sunday nights at AGR (I attend every Sunday as well).
AGR'r Sal Rendino is celebrating his 25th "Anniversa-ME" as he is calling it. After several years of hard work, Sal landed his dream job. Read his journey in his own words. "If you build it, they will come."
"I am celebrating a milestone (I’m calling it an anniversa-ME): 25 years (10 years as an AGR'r) doing daily this "thing we do" -- Orlando to L.A. to N.Y.C. Other than extra work, it took me over 2 solid years of pounding the pavement, auditioning and working on my career every single day, until I got my first professional paid gig. Just prior to that, I distinctly remember genuinely believing I would never -- NEVER -- book an actual job, and I had to come to terms with that -- do I just keep plugging, working to improve, tightening up my resources, and trust that the chips would fall where they should? -and then, maybe I still wouldn’t be able to build a career at all. Even through the persistence of working through that, I honestly thought I was just "different", "missing something", "not charismatic", "uncastable" for whatever reason (maybe they saw easily through to my insecurities, or maybe I was just undeserving because I didn't go to Yale or Juilliard, because I didn't believe in myself strongly enough or follow "The Secret" faithfully enough, or maybe ‘God’ was preventing success because I'm just kind of a jerk sometimes). I've taken innumerable classes, workshops, agent/manager nights, intensives, younameit's, and had the ebbs and flows of mentality, from soured by the pay-to-be-seen oddity and its seeming lack of effect, to powering ahead positively, KNOWING I'm proactively forwarding my career, meeting decision-makers, and at the very least, putting myself OUT there, honing my skills, and networking. I’m not among the most vocal or active, but I can tell you, in my time meandering from coast to coast and actor community to community, I haven't seen a more positive, supportive and valuable group than AGR and Jen Rudolph. My motto has ALWAYS been "Keep Building", and I've seized every opportunity I can to play and work productively. It only takes ONE well positioned and/or powerful voice to go to bat for you, and you can't know where it might come from or how it might enter your life. I used to work at a nice bar/restaurant whose lovely owners encouraged me to show my acting footage on Monday nights while I worked (one TV screen in the corner, hooked up to my VHS/DVD player that I lugged in and out every Monday, because, yeah, some of my stuff was still on VHS from The Dark Ages), and that TV oftentimes played for just the waitress and me. That was fine; I kept it up for a couple years, and finally planned to discontinue “Sal’s Movie Mondays” (because it seemed stale and repetitive) when into the restaurant walked a middle-aged gentleman who generously watched and tolerated all my set-up stories and behind-the-scenes tidbits, and then when my “show” finished, he asked me to change channels, because an episode of a major network primetime series was about to come on, and he wanted to “see what they did to my script”. We watched HIS show, he graciously accepted an actor’s business card from yours truly, and we shook hands goodnight. I maintained contact with him for a couple years, and, earlier this year, he gave me the heads up on an “interesting new show on that Netflix thingy”.
At his request, and independent of any agent or manager, I got called in for “The Get Down”, for a “possibly recurring” role. As is often the case, I only had the night before to prep, so I busted my tail and did what I always do: work until I feel I’m totally prepared and confident, and then work an extra hour.
Well . . .
I’ve never had to go through the gruel of network approval in front of rows of stoic suits — all unimpressed with dollar-sign eyes. -and that's something I’ll never be able to say again, because it happened.
After months of hush-hush NDA-this and gag-that, a table read nose-to-nose with Jimmy Smits and Kevin Corrigan, and a 2-hour one-on-one callback with Baz Luhrmann screaming crazy direction in my ear immediately followed by “ACTION!!”, the role I went in on morphed from “Possibly Recurring” to “Recurring” to “5-Episode-Minimum” to “Top of Show 7-Episode-Minimum-Guaranteed”.
(for the first time in 25 years,) An EX-bartender,
now in the middle of Season 1 — of the rest of my career.
Happy 25th Anniversa-me to me, and to ALL who work tirelessly for something greater . . .
I built it. They came." - AGR'r Sal Rendino
.........Come CREATE with us this weekend and develop the foundation within to "build it" and never give up.
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