My first love will always be theatre. Always! My first speaking role was in the kindergarten and I remember my lines to this day! Even when I perform poetry or give a lecture, I still get that feeling I had in kindergarten. My stomach turns, my upper body gets hot and my heart beat becomes rapid.
Even though my mother tried her best to support my dreams and protected me from those who would say “Nikki needs to think about a real job”, I eventually fell prey to insecurities. And of course the reality of trying to support my dreams, pay bills and have a social life was not feasible on an artist income. Like all other artists, I signed up with several different temp agencies and eventually found a niche in team building in corporations and non profit organizations. In between performance gigs and bouts of writers block and times when I wasn’t confident enough to be vulnerable, I’ve held positions as ‘recruiters, trainers and directors’. Of course they have paid very well… and had health benefits.
I have friends that can be grass roots performers and I have friends that will not eat if they don’t get paid for their art. I applaud them! I salute them! The support from their families’ obviously reached further than mine did. These ‘other’ jobs allowed me to advance my art and for me contribute to the pace setting of the direction of our art paths. It allowed me to write/produce/direct a play with a cast of six, self publish a short story book, produce a poetry cd, fund the initiation of a spoken word tour and write/produce/direct my one woman show. Not so bad… but then the annual performance reviews from these jobs continued which meant an increase in salary which included bonus money which meant I was smart enough to continue to pursue other companies and go in asking for more money! (no… I was never interested in teaching, not even as a substitute)
On some award show, someone said, “dreams don’t expire”. That is exactly what I needed to hear! I still have the ambition to become a best selling author and award winning playwright. I still have the goal to be a highly sought after lecturer/speaker and travel internationally. And I have to aim high for excellence because with my ‘other’ job, I have a settled idea of the lifestyle I want to live. And I like to travel and I like lobster…
For those artists with the ‘other’ job… SALUTE! Just remember don’t forget the passion you have for that job you would do for free but simply can’t afford it.