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Putting Myself Out There

{ Me, last night }

I met up with a mentor of mine this weekend to talk career and she had some tough love for me. I think that, for the most part, she was right (even if it stung a little bit). She told me it’s time to stop writing in a vacuum and try to get some representation again. She said it’s time to stop hanging my hat on Tony. She said it’s time to write some more scripts and perform more, and find a way to get people to read them and see me. She said it’s time to get a thicker skin and create a “business” character that I pretend to be when I have to talk about my work, if I’m too sensitive to just be myself.

I don’t think I hang my hat on Tony; I think we love to work together, and work well together. We were writing together in the Groundlings Sunday Company before we were dating. We’ve written and performed so many projects and shows together over the years. A few years ago when I was represented by CAA and we’d go in to pitch things together, producers would ask who my boyfriend was and what he’d written and done. Now, I don’t have agents and my boyfriend is now my husband starring on a TV show, and people wonder who his wife is and what she’s written and done. I guess that’s the nature of the beast/business, how it ebbs and flows. My friend Barbara always tells me that one day Tony is going to be auditioning for a movie I wrote, because she is really nice and encouraging and maybe a little delusional.

But for now, I’m in the +1 position – I’m so proud of him, but it is my worst fear* that people will see me as someone trying to hang my hat on him and ride his coattails. I don’t see it that way; I see us as equally talented and driven people whose skillsets complement the other’s. But maybe it looks different from the outside. I’ve done a few shows lately and I killed it in them (I criticize myself all the time, and am my own worst critic, and berate myself over most things I do. But you guys, I know I did a really good job. I was “in the zone,” and could hear and feel the laughter.) Maybe it’s because I’ve been focusing more on this blog than performing and writing scripts lately, and people think I’ve gone soft and fluffy and housewifey, because after those recent shows, I’ve been hearing the surprise in people’s voices when they tell me how funny I was and say “I didn’t know you could do that!”

can do that. I don’t know what happened. I guess I got scared when I had so many close calls and then suddenly I didn’t have agents anymore. I was really jaded from spending all my time writing pitches for other people’s ideas instead of writing scripts about my own. I started telling myself I had to lose 15 pounds before someone would want to send me on auditions, that I couldn’t try to get an agent again until I’d written my next masterpiece because everyone had already “passed” on the masterpieces I’d written before and they’re old news now. I got depressed. I got through that cloud of hopelessness, but I’m still scared to fully throw myself back into the Hollywood grind because I’m worried no one will want me.

I worry that I had my shot, and missed it. I worry that I got knocked down so many times, I ended up making myself a character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, working on a simple and safe puzzle every day – only my “puzzle” is designing my house and trying to find funny ways to write about the outfits I wear, the food I cook, the wedding I had (even though I love writing about that stuff, too). I worry that I’m too old to be a “developmental” client. Tony says I’m not developmental, but it feels that way; going from having the fanciest agents in town to none was a really humbling experience, as was getting sososoclose to my dreams and then watching them fall through. All of the Famous/Successful Person quotes seem to have the same message, that it’s your failures that shape you and lead you to the thing, and that as long as you don’t give up and keep failing, you’ll get there. But I’m a perfectionist (not the good kind, the unhealthy kind), and my tendency is to crawl into a hole and wait to come out until I’m ready to expose my genius to the world. This blog has been a good exercise in putting that intensity aside, as I gave myself the challenge to put something up every day, which doesn’t give me time to be precious about every single word.

But I do think my mentor was right about the other stuff: It’s time to stop writing in a vacuum and try to get some representation again. It’s time to write some more scripts and perform more, and find a way to get people to read them and see me. And I think it’s time to work more with Tony on our creative projects and less on what tiles to put in the bathroom; we started a script a while ago that we want to perform live with our friends to try to sell it, instead of just schlepping the script around town. I’m going to work on that again.

So, to get all Oprah and The Secret and Tony Robbins about my dreams and put myself out there clearly: I want to be a regular on a TV show. I want to write for a living, not just for a little paycheck here and there. I think I will get there eventually, because what is the point in trying if you don’t believe in yourself? I’ve found it’s hard enough to get people to believe in you, it’s not going to work if you can’t even stand behind yourself.

Several kind friends (some of whom I haven’t spoken to in a while), have been reaching out to me randomly to tell me how much they like the blog. I don’t think that’s entirely coincidental, and it means the world to me. I really really really appreciate all of your support and encouragement. I want to keep writing it because it is a safe place for me to publish myself, instead of hoping someone else will. I think it reflects my voice, because I am funny but also like girly, lifestyle-y things. I don’t think it takes away from my comedy work. I think I can do both. I’ve also seen a lot of bloggers and “internet writers” like Kelly Oxford and Jenny Mollen transition that work into books and screenplays. The blog is valid, too.

This post probably screams what my mom would call “fishing for compliments,” but I don’t mean it to be that. I’m also fully aware how truly #blessed I am; I’ve got my husband, my family, my friends, my dogs, my health and a gorgeous home I’m lucky enough to live in. I take none of that for granted. This isn’t meant to be a diatribe against Hollywood because I haven’t gotten the golden ticket yet. I just think maybe a lot of people (especially people pursuing this same career in Hollywood) can relate, and maybe we can commiserate and be in it together. Adulting is hard, and so is trying to navigate what the right and wrong moves are, career-wise. What’s your advice (or experience)? How do you know when and how to keep pushing, or when to pivot? Thanks for listening, you guys.

*Footnote: My true #1 worst fear is that someone will come into my house at night and murder me. My #2 worst fear is that people will see me as someone trying to hang my hat on Tony and ride his coattails. It just felt more melodramatic and on-theme to write the latter as my #1. OK BYE!

  • Heidi Hawk

    Annie–this is such a true blog. It can be really hard to put yourself out there when just hanging out feels comfortable and safer. I do it too–hell I’m doing it now, licking my wounds after putting myself out there and enjoying feeling safe and comfortable for a little while. I think you are way too talented from the small pieces of you that I’ve read on your blog to think you aren’t going to make it. But i also think it was okay to make this your focus for a little while. Help build your confidence, come out stronger, and frankly–give you some time to heal and feel strong enough. I think it’s a great time to put yourself out there–you are in a thriving place! Tony is doing awesome in his career, you have a beautiful new home, and a supportive group around you. You’ve said yourself you have been nailing your performances. I think a lot of knowing is when you feel ready and brave again. And looking at Hollywood, with a female Ghostbusters and woman playing more prominent roles–I think there is a real opportunity there to take your share of the market.

    I’m a big believer in trusting my gut and when things are lining up the right way and they feel good, I go for them. And from this post, I think you are getting that feeling so put yourself out there girl! Best of luck to you!

    • Annie

      This is SUCH A BEAUTIFUL NOTE. Heidi, I freaking adore you. You have been such a supportive and encouraging love and light to me throughout this whole blog, and I so appreciate you (and you reading this) so much. Thanks for giving me the grace to take care of myself but also the confidence to challenge myself and jump back in, too. You are a sweetheart and I really appreciate it. Biggest hugs!!!

  • Brandy

    Keep on keeping on! I really enjoy reading your funny and girly lifestyle-y blog.
    ps. KILLER RED DOOR.

    • Annie

      Thank you!!! For these sweet words AND for loving my door as much as I do!!!! Painting it was the very first thing we did here at the new place :) It means a lot to me that you read and like the blog – I’m really grateful for it and you!

  • Jennifer Miner

    Saw this in my photo bank and thought it might apply ;) And I find the best way to overcome any fear is to take action. When I was much younger, I had a strong fear of heights…so I jumped out of a plane 😁✈️

    • Annie

      This is THE BEST!!!!!!! Thank you so much, sweet lady. I am going to frame this :) You are so wonderful. Love you much!

  • CourtneyDaniels

    My take: You’re Tony’s biggest fan, you’re not riding his coattails. From the moment I met you, I thought you were as talented and as much of a go-getter as he is. I think you should start performing your ass off again–be in as much stuff as you can, as often as you can–and I would try to go out for as many auditions as possible. I think the rest of your time should be spent writing material for yourself, that you can put out as spec scripts but also that you could potentially produce and direct yourself, for a super low budget, to put online if necessary (versus selling to a network, if that doesn’t pan out). I feel like a good model for you is that girl who wrote and stars in “Odd Mom Out”–i.e., keep writing vehicles for yourself, stories set in a world(s) you know well or are passionate about.

    • Annie

      Love this and you – thank you so much, Courtney!!! You have been such a supportive champion of mine and I am SO GRATEFUL. You are the best. Thank you.

      • CourtneyDaniels

        Excited to see your next performance or script! xo

        • Annie

          THANK YOU!!!!!!! Hope there is one of each to harass you about attending/reading so soon :)

  • Mimi Calvo

    A good marriage is like a coat rack – you take off and put on the hats you need at the moment. You SHOULD hang your hat on Tony just like He hangs his hat on you! Marriage is all about supporting one another and that is what I see from the outside looking in. Tony writes glowing words about you too. If we can’t rest our hats on each other then where would they go – on the floor for others to step on? In the breeze flying away and getting lost?
    I am sure your coat rack will one day be full of each other’s hats! Just keep on hanging them 😘
    Mimi

    • Annie

      Love this so much <3 Thank you, Mimi, for your support and such lovely words and advice (today and always!!!!)

  • Meilee Earnest

    ANNIE! Thank you for writing this blog. I totally know what it feels like to be busy every day (I hesitate to assign myself the adjective “important” but it felt that way some days), and then one day you get married and move 5,000 miles away and suddenly you’re a housewife having Bulleit for lunch? And you are your husband’s +1? It is very weird and unsettling at first, especially after being a “career girl” for so many years. BUT. You have to remember that inside YOU are still YOU! I hope you keep writing the blog, but if you feel like you need to focus on other parts of your career, your adoring fans will flock to the nearest (English language, hopefully?!) movie theater to see your art! Hugs!!!

    • Annie

      Meilee!!!! This means so much to me. Thank you for these sweet sweet words, and for sharing your experience that feels so similar to mine (although I didn’t have to/get to move to another country!!) It’s a weird mix of being proud of your spouse, and that unsettling feeling of where you fit in and what the next best and most fulfilling step is. I love the blog so much and it has been so good for me to have an outlet to write and share what I write every day, instead of waiting for someone else to do it. So I will absolutely continue it. I’m just trying to get the confidence back to up dive back into writing screenplays and acting more, too. This town is great, but this industry is the worst :) THANK YOU for reading this blog and for being so supportive, I’m so grateful for it!

  • Carol Aceves

    Sweet Annie, I think you are experiencing the same emotions that many of us feel throughout our lives. You are not alone! The only advice I can give is that I know, several years from now, as you reflect back on your life, you will not bemoan the failures you’ve experienced, but you will most definitely regret it if you permit fear to keep you from even trying. Take risks, put yourself out there, never give up! If you believe in yourself, others will too. You may realize a very different dream in the end and arrive at that dream via a very different path than the one you imagined, but you will get there! Keep the faith, my dear!

    • Annie

      Carol, thank you so much for this beautiful, kind note! Just what I need to hear, and I’m so grateful for it. Lots of love and big hugs!!


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