My website is www.notwaiting.com. It is a continual reminder to me that I must be proactive if I want to accomplish my goals—in my career and in my life. Anyone can fall prey to monotony, but as long as you stay proactive, you can push through and achieve growth.
So what do I do to stay proactive? Every day, I remind myself that my career and my life are journeys. I focus on the present, the moment, the here and the now. The past is the past and the future never exists. This keeps me focused on what I need—or better yet, want—to do to achieve my desires.
I am constantly in class, strengthening my acting muscle. Even when I'm in a show or on a shoot, I do my best to stay in class. It can be tough at times, but it is worth it. I love to act, and class is a consistent way to work out and grow. I have sought out the best teachers and mentors for me, and I am always excited to take from them what they give to me.
Sure, I do the day-to-day submitting and auditioning. However, nothing is more fulfilling than seeking out projects—not in the breakdowns—that I find challenging and exciting. Or more so, creating projects I find challenging and exciting. Creating my own work, working as a hyphenate, keeps me focused and proactive and living moment to moment, more than if I were simply a hire. Producing and directing, for me, is also class. I continually learn new things by working with other actors. It cements my belief that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing in life. Any byproduct—such as a job, a meeting, or fame or fortune—is secondary, not to mention out of my control.
I belong to a theater company (currently Theatre Unleashed) and have been for many years. Some argue that one shouldn't have to pay to act. I'm not paying dues to act. I view a theater company membership as a valuable investment. I join a theater company to develop a supportive network of artists and friends with whom I can work out my creative muscle.
Finally, I live life not to the expectations of others but to my desires. I travel. I develop and maintain friendships. I volunteer. I work with youth. I find ways to use my college degree. I read novels, biographies, history books. I learn from others. I learn things I didn't have the time to as a kid because I was too busy playing wuffle ball. I find things to do that have nothing to do with acting.
To thrive as an artist, I must experience as much life as possible, so I can draw from those experiences when I am on stage or in front of a camera. Also, by doing so, much of the pressure I would put on myself dissipates. I have met people I wouldn't normally have met, and each has enriched my life in so many different ways. I have had so many fulfilling experiences I might normally not have had. My priorities have aligned themselves without much personal effort. I am more content and (what I consider) successful in my career. I am growing.
So when I feel like I am straying, I work on my website and recite that domain name aloud.
My plane is taking off. I can't wait to discover the weekend!
Matt Ryan is a multihyphenateliving in Los Angeles. He will be seen in "4.48 Psychosis" and is directing "Tales from the Unsettled City," both opening in August from