Now let’s just set the record straight: I work hard. Always have, always will. Why?
A) I’m Latino, it’s in our DNA. Although, like I mentioned in a previous blog entry, this is one Latino who is not mowing your lawns or cleaning out your pools. Okaayyy. And as a Latino, a minority, I have to work twice as hard as my Caucasian male counterparts. Interesting fact: Did you know that SAG-AFTRA classifies everyone, except for Caucasian males, as a minority?
B) My mother instilled the value of hard work at a very young age. She wanted her children to achieve more than she did. As a result, she was incredibly militant when it came to our homework. She set the tone right away in pre-kindergarten. She wanted to make sure that we were turning in professional, excellent, clean-looking work. And I say “clean-looking” because all of our homework was hand-written on paper with a pencil.
When I was in elementary school, I would always do my homework at the dining room table. I had my Mead composition notebook and #2 pencil. And God bless my mother, because in order to save money and cut down on costs, she would buy me the generic, non-name brand pencils with the cheap erasers. So, if I ever had to erase a mistake, I was fucked because the eraser would smudge the graphite across the word or words I was trying to erase. The cheap eraser never made a clean erase. My mother would come over, see the smudge and then violently snatch the paper off the dining room table. She would then crumple it up in my face and say, “Do it again! You’re not turning in this mess to your teacher!”
My mom never pushed us to perfection, but rather, to excellence. She crumpled up the paper because she knew I could do better. That I could present a better product to my teacher. Was this smudge-filled homework the best work I could turn in? If not, then go back to the drawing board until I created the best work possible. And that philosophy has stayed with me throughout my life. As Richard Lawson would say, “Do Your Best And Forget The Rest”. Did you do your best? If so, great. Now forget the rest.
C) I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Nothing was ever given to me (except hand-me-downs LOL) I worked hard for everything in my life.
So, I work hard. Anyone who knows me knows that.
But MAN, working hard is a bitch. Work ethic is a bitch. This year alone, I’m averaging about 35 hours a week into my career. I hate being the nerd who misses out on countless events because I wanted to stay in and get this scene in my screenplay just right. I hate being the geek who has to schedule his best friend or family member into a 30-minute slot because I have an audition that I’m still carving out. Or because I have a second round of communications I need to draft up and execute for my target list of management companies. Or because I have rehearsal. Or because I have hours of relationship map building to administrate and execute. Or because I’m working on a pitch for another TV series.
I just turned down an invitation to hang out with a hot ex-military guy this past Friday night because I wanted to front load my career administration for the week instead (Friday is the start of the week for me) When I front load my work, then the rest of the week flows beautifully. But again, he was a HOT EX-MILITARY guy. Damn you work ethic! Work ethic is a bitch!
The Friday night before (August 7th), I was up till 12am re-cutting my dramatic reel to make it a stronger representation of my acting abilities. I spent three hours not only re-cutting my reel, but also fixing all the sound levels from one clip to the next to make sure they were all even and consistent. I wanted to make sure that I was creating the best product possible to send out to managers.
I normally wake up at 6am and go to bed at 1am. I hate it. Work ethic is a bitch. I love sleeping. I love my bed. Guys love my bed. Well, they love me more, but they love my bed too. It’s so amazingly comfortable and inviting. You think I want to get up while everyone else is still sleeping? You think I still want to be up while everyone else is sleeping? Sometimes, I’ll drive to a rehearsal or a fitness training in the morning and I’ll see people stumbling out of the clubs.
Work ethic is a bitch.
For the love of God, why can’t I just:
**Dance all day long
**Be at the beach all day long (Well, not Los Angeles beaches…the water is so fucking cold)
**Eat Belgian chocolate pudding from Trader Joe’s all day long
**Drink champagne all day long
**Watch Madonna videos all day long and recreate them…again
**Be on Tindr, Lavendr and Grindr all day long (what is it with these online dating/hook up sites ending with the letter “R”?)
**Hook up all day long
**Have sex all day long
**Travel around the world
**Get a full body massage all day long
**Drive around in a luxury car with friends all day long
**Binge watch different TV shows on Netflix all day long
ETC. ETC. ETC.
But then I take a step back and realize that today is Madonna’s birthday. 57 years ago, on August 16th, 1958, Madonna Veronica Louise Ciccone wassent from heaven and was born in Bay City, Michigan.
Madonna NEVER has to work again in her entire life. She has nothing left to prove. She IS the Queen of Pop. She created the template from which all female (and some male) pop stars draw from. She obliterated the restrictions on what women could do and should be. She changed and crafted pop culture. She was the M in MTV. She has more top ten singles (38) on the Billboard Hot 100 than any other solo artist. She has more number one singles (46) on a singular Billboard chart than any other artist. Forbes named her the richest musician in 2013. She is currently worth more than 800 million dollars. She’s about to embark on another massive world tour to support her latest album, “Rebel Heart” (which is my favorite Madonna album of all time now). She evolves. She progresses. She looks forward, never back.
She can retire TODAY. But since the beginning, Madonna has had a powerful work ethic. She is one of the hardest, most professional, most consistent artists out there. She is a work-a-holic. A perfectionist. She oversees every single aspect of her career…down to the earrings a dancer wears to the nail polish that an extra is wearing on her film sets. When on tour, she does a full run through of every show before the actual show starts at 8pm. She’s the first one to clock in and the last one to clock out. 12 hour-plus days. She has more energy than people half her age. Answering a question on how she continues to amass her fortune and not be taken advantage of financially, she once famously replied, “Because I actually read the contracts.”
She directs feature films, runs a clothing and fragrance line, has written children’s books, raises four beautiful children, builds schools in Malawi, etc.
Her work ethic is INCREDIBLE because she is driven by her purpose, her raison d’être (reason for being or existence) She still has so much to say. She loves what she does. She knows her responsibility and power as an artist.
Hmmm, 57 years old and worth more than $800 million dollars? Still relevant and provoking people to wake up and be better versions of themselves? Maybe work ethic isn’t so bad. I mean, do I want to spend all day getting a massage, or do I want to add another hour to my rehearsal so that at the end of the day, I can walk away cleanly because I did the best work that I could do? I’ll take the latter.
Work ethic is not a bitch. Work ethic is my BITCH. I work hard because I love what I do and because I have something to say. I work hard so that everything I present is the best work possible. I work hard so that I can have pride in what I share with others. I work hard so that at the end of the day, I don’t have any regrets or skeletons haunting me saying, “You should have worked harder. You could have done better.” I work hard because the payoff is wonderful.
Work ethic has been my weapon in staying sharp, ready and current. Work ethic has never let me down. The greats are great and stay relevant because of work ethic. Things move forward and happen when work ethic is involved.
With all this talk about work ethic, I can’t leave out the importance of celebration. I have gotten much better at incorporating celebration more and more into my life. To celebrate the wins and achievements along the way. To do my best work and then celebrate. Celebrations remind me of my progress, my journey and my wins. Large wins, small wins, celebrate them all. I have purchased art work, gotten massages, purchased champagne, etc. to mark my wins.
For example, I mentioned earlier that I front-loaded my work this past Friday night. And guess what? That hot ex-military guy reached out again today to hang out. This time, I said “Yes.” I can afford a celebration tonight for the work I did on Friday.
Thank you Madonna and Happy Birthday.