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Inspiration

The Life of Charles: I Do My Best – 12/10/11

On the Set of "You Bet"

I do my best, but I have to admit I haven’t been as on top of updating my blog lately. I suppose I’m too busy living and loving life. Since I know there are folks who are curious, I thought I’d take a minute to share a taste of what’s been going on in my world – at least with respect to the arts and my life as an actor.

I can’t lie, my life is phenomenal. I made the following comment more than a handful of times lately, but it’s true: “I can’t remember what a bad day felt like.” I’ll say it again: “I can’t remember what a bad day felt like.” Sure, I’ve had adversity and have dealt with challenges. At the end of the day, however, my life is all sorts of amazing – all the time.

I’m sure it sounds crazy to some. I wake up every day and I can’t wait to start living. I am filled with so much joy and excitement. When it’s time to sleep – or better yet dream – at night, I don’t want to go to bed. I’m just so in love with my life and “living” – the blessings God shines on me, the people I “get” to meet and the amazing experiences I am privileged to have on a daily basis.

I know some of you get where I’m coming from with these feelings. Just smile and nod. Some of you don’t. That’s fine. Some of you are skeptical. That’s fine too. However you slice it, if you’re reading this update, maybe you’re inspired right now or maybe you think I’m crazy and I’m about to get a dose of reality. I don’t believe it. Not one bit.

So, why am I so filled with joy? I get to do what I love and I have an unshakable confidence that I’ll get to do it until the day I pass. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but the picture is starting to get pretty clear.

While I don’t dwell on the past, I would like to celebrate what I’ve been able to do in the past “two” months. I’ve had the honor of being cast in more than ten independent and student films – the majority of which I was selected to play the lead. Each project is special in its own way and I can, with all sincerity say, there’s not a lemon in the group – well, except for one: Apple and Lemon (it’s in the title).

While all of these films have been special – You Bet (Sky Wang), The Champions (Vincent Warren) and Eschaton (Greg Stephen Reigh) will always hold a special place in my heart. The last two were done out of the Art Institute of Chicago – a spot where I spent a lot of time growing up. I went in for their General Auditions towards the end of October. I was there for 20 or so minutes auditioning for 20-30 student directors. After I left, the feedback that I received was that they were all “blown away.” I say that not to brag – far from it – but rather to share how much joy I felt when those words came back to me. I wish everyone could experience that feeling each day. Luckily, I get that sensation all the time. Thank heavens.

With apologies to everyone else, Sky Wang’s “You Bet” was perhaps my absolute favorite project – next to Marbles, of course (the LA Shorts Fest flick I got to do with one of the great people I’ve ever met, Rory Karpf). Sky’s film, which as of this note, is being completed is noting short of a masterpiece. I haven’t seen it, but I know it. The 30 plus people working on set were in such a state of flow that there’s no way it can’t be great. I can’t wait to see it.

Other than my film work, I had the honor of being on stage in Passion Theatre’s production of “Bang, Bang You’re Dead.” It’s an intense story that focuses on gun violence in schools. My favorite part of the whole experience were the post-show talk-backs, where we got to engage the Oak Park community in a discussion about, not just the theme of the play, but also the issues our larger society lives and breathes as a whole each day.

One specific moment of joy came after one of the talk-backs when an audience member remarked, “That show was better than something you might see at the Steppenwolf.” Wow. Of course, I was flattered to hear her follow up by saying, “Why am I not seeing you on TV all the time?” One day at a time. One day at a time.

Since the play closed, I recently had a callback for Boho Theatre’s production of the Rainmaker. Out of seemingly hundreds who auditioned, it was down to me and three other actors, maybe four. I didn’t get cast, but that’s fine. It just means something bigger and better is on the horizon.

As for Electric Lunchbox, my improv group, we got a new coach, had a few shows and decided to take some time off to focus on personal projects. I’m convinced the time away will only make us stronger. These are six grown men I can honestly say I love with all my heart. We’ll all so passionate, dedicated and talented. The brilliant Jet Eveleth once said, “You guys are the future of this work.” While it’s so humbling to hear that from someone we all admire, deep down I know that to be true and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

On top of all that I’ve mentioned already, I’ve had some amazing auditions lately. Outside of the three big casting agencies in Chicago, I am booking nearly everything I go in for. Believe me – I realize how fortunate I am. Plus, I know, it’s only a matter of time before the flood gates open and the dreams I have start solidifying.

While all of those experiences have been great, the most joyous part of my existence has been the opportunity I’ve had to share my life and the things I’ve learned with all the people I come in to contact with each and every day – new friends. old friends, friends I’ve just met and, easily, my greatest friend of all, my Mom. I am a firm believer in the motto, “Focus on making other people’s lives better and life takes care of itself.” I am living proof.

A little over a year ago, I left a successful career in advertising – one where I got to lead marketing efforts for brands like Kellogg’s, Quaker, Whirlpool and LEGO. I walked away from a comfortable life and a salary well into six figures. While part of my focus is starting to shift back towards “making” my fortune, I wouldn’t trade all that I’ve learned and experienced in the past 12 plus months for any amount of money in the world. That’s love and that’s the truth – if you know what I mean…

So, what’s on tap for the future? I’ve got all sorts of dreams in my head. Get your popcorn ready cause I’m about to build it.

When I had my own business out of college my tagline was: Start Small, Grow Big and Believe. I’ll leave you with that.

All the Best,

Charles

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