(This is the second part of a story that tells the story of how I made a poor decision that left me unemployed for 11 months. For the first part read here)
After I had left my regular work at Disney in the fall of 2005, I thought things were going to go my way. We had some money saved up. I was sure that television commercial work would start pouring in.
I was so confident that I even turned down a seasonal opportunity from another theme park because I was going to leave that behind me.
My problem… I didn’t have a plan in place. I wasn’t in a regular acting class at the time or a regular group where I could exchange ideas about how to get consistent work.
I was just winging it.
Not having a plan in place was very detrimental. I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. Without a clear direction, I became easily distracted or overwhelmed by what needed to happen in order to book work.
Kevin Gregg doing extra work on the set of “24” (FOX) circa 2006
I wasn’t handling it very well.
I felt guilty that I couldn’t seem to get things done so I started filling my days with anything and everything. I started volunteering at the kids’ school, volunteering at church and just being involved in a myriad of different non-paying activities.
Volunteering is a good thing, but when you are not taking care of basic income for the home it can cause its own problems. And it did. Before I knew it I found myself emotionally committed to things that had nothing to do with forward motion for my career. I was stretching myself too thin and getting exhausted. But at least I could claim that I was “busy.”
I also started numbing myself with food and booze. Not helpful. When you go to an audition for a television commercial, you don’t look too attractive when you’ve got a puffy face from booze and a poor diet.
I was fortunate enough to book odd jobs here and there. I did extra work for a few television shows but found the experience depressing and not very lucrative for a man trying to support a family of five.
I did book one commercial during this time. Unfortunately the shoot day didn’t go the way the director had planned. As a result myself and another actor were edited out of the final commercial and I only got paid for the day of work. No residual money was coming in. No regular money was coming in either.
I had no financial plan in place in our home so we were going through all of this without a budget. I continued to spend money in our house the way that we did when the times were really good. After a few months it started catching up with us.
I started to see our savings get depleted. As the money started running out my anxiety started to increase. I was beginning to have a sense of desperation and it was starting to carry over into my work.
It’s also not very attractive when an actor comes into an audition and has a look that says “I NEED THIS JOB OR MY FAMILY WILL STARVE!” It doesn’t help you book work.
I spent more time and energy involved in non-paying theater work just so I could convince myself that I had talent.
I remember there were several nights where I would tell Kate that I was going for a walk. I would spend a good hour walking in our neighborhood crying and praying to God for help because I didn’t know what to do.
I felt that I had squandered a great opportunity working regularly at Disney. I felt as if I had thrown it away and I would never work regularly again in a creative atmosphere.
I started looking for any work that I could do during the night so I would be available for auditions.
I was stuck in my own head and I was paralyzed with indecision. I wasn’t sure what was coming next and I was afraid…
(To be concluded)