03/21/2012 07:47 pm ET Updated May 21, 2012

The Waiting Room

Wait for a chance. Wait for the callback. Wait for a decision.

Wait on calls, wait for auditions, wait on customers. All actors are professional "waiters."

As performers, we have to take it and act like we're okay with it. You have to smile when they keep you waiting at an audition for two hours because they were at lunch (it's called Panda Express not Panda Eat As Slow As a Panda.) You have to say "Great, thank you so much" when they talk during your audition then give no feedback (but thanks for driving from Hollywood to our offices in Marina fucking Del Ray at 5 pm on a Friday).

So now what? You've just finished waiting three days for the news that you didn't get American Pie 7: Gluten Free. Ugh, you even gave your dry cleaners your newest headshot to hang on their wall. It hurts that you didn't get the part but the pain is exacerbated by the realization that now you have nothing to wait on. Nothing to immediately look forward to.

Now, you're just waiting without the anticipation of getting your big break to serve as a temporary eclipse of the blinding truth that your career isn't moving as fast as you'd like.

Fortunately, there are plenty of activities to distract you from the fact that you're waiting because Los Angeles is the world's largest waiting room.

The weather, beaches, parties, museums -- all free. L.A. is one giant distraction. No wonder everyone loves it here, in the Waiting Room.

And no one ever leaves the Waiting Room -- you can't leave Los Angeles! Because what happens in a waiting room when they call you and you don't answer? They move on to the next person.
It's the paralyzing fear of being skipped over that motivates performers in Hollywood. If you leave town, the industry will call. If you don't go to this audition, you miss your big break. So rather than leave town and find normal jobs, they find jobs they can do while they wait -- night jobs, morning jobs, jobs that have shifts -- they perform these jobs until they realize that having that real job offers more stability than performing, which hasn't panned out. Ask your pilates teacher or your realtor (OMG, you have a realtor? You are doing well!), "Have you ever acted?" and the answer will be "I did a little acting." The real question is, "How little was the acting?"

Stanislavisky said "There are no small parts, just small actors." But Stanislavisky never had a bit part that was so short it couldn't even be used in a reel. If there are no small parts, then why don't they give Oscars for Under-Fives?

Performer quit, promising themselves that one day they'll "get back into it." "I'm just moving to Sun Valley, my husband's office is there, the kids have a great school there and it's perfect because the studios are so close!" and lord knows ever since the rave reviews of your walk on part for Reba the studios have had you on speed dial.

Keep working toward your goals, for if you don't rise above the masses and become a star, if you don't evolve and grow and move forward with your career -- you become part of the landscape. You become that "guy that's worked at the post house for ten years who was on Elimidate once," the "chick who manages the vegetarian breakfast place on La Brea who appreared on Grey's Anatomy," "the crazy homeless guy who roller skates, shirtless, on Robertson... I think he was on COPS once." You become a cog in the machinery that makes this city run.

Working for a career in show business is hard because it often requires a second career that actually pays.

Los Angeles is the land of opportunity to those willing to work for fame at the temporary expense of such frivolities like home ownership, health insurance and sanity.

It's so easy to give up on your dreams in favor of wanting normal things like... food. It takes a real maniac to slum in out in Hollywood for ten-plus years waiting for that big break. That's why celebrities are so crazy. Not from the pressures of being famous, it's the shellshock of being poor in Hollywood for so many years. I had a friend who was so poor he could only afford potatoes -- do have any idea what that much starch will do to a person?

If acting doesn't work, you'll want to be successful at something right? Thank god you live here because Los Angeles is a real life "Choose Your Own Adventure" for second career choices. You can so easily give up on your original dreams of fame in favor of something less rejection-y.

You could move to Silverlake, take up as a large scale yarn sculptor. You could move downtown and have no one visit you. You can do something really original and run a cupcake-baking business out of your kitchen, that hasn't been done! What's a cupcake?!

In L.A., it's easy to invent your own business/reinvent yourself. Vegan Eyebrow Tinting, Hip-Hop Cooking, Bikram Yogurt, Strip-Tease Work-Outs For the Visually Impaired -- you can give up acting and do any of these things! Full time! Maybe your business will catch on! And celebrities will start doing it! Access Hollywood will interview you! And THEN YOU'LL FINALLY BE ON TV!

But it's a lie to say that you don't still have that glimmer of hope in your eye. As a child, no one ever thought "When I grow up, I want to try acting, give up and then run a mobile pet salon out of my car and live in Reseda."

Who knows, you might find fulfillment in your second career choice. And that's good. You can look at acting as a dream you once had, but from whence you awoke. You can even look at show biz as something you grew out of, once you found whatever was really important to you (for a lot of women it ends up being a family... or yoga.) But there will always be your sun-bleached headshot hanging in the east-facing window of your dry cleaners. Remember? You gave it to them after you got that big audition for Melrose Place (the first one). It's there. It echoes yet mocks your theatrical attempts. It reminds you of the summer you tried to go blonde. Enjoy the Waiting Room. Take a number. Act like you don't mind waiting, at least you get to do some acting.