From Charlie's Desk > Commitment


Webster defines commitment as "a decisive moral choice that involves a person to a definite course of action."

For about 20 years I had been an "actor" (small "a", in quotation marks). By that I mean that I had made a portion of my income each year by acting. Whatever my "real job" was, I always made sure that it would leave me time for rehearsals and performances if I wanted to do a play, and that I would be free to do local TV and radio commercials to supplement my income.

Although I had wanted to be an actor for as long as I could remember, I had never been willing to really seriously pursue it as a career. I used various excuses; "It isn't fair to the family." "L.A. is where you have to be, and it's no place to raise kids." "Someday they'll discover me."

One afternoon I was sitting with a good friend, telling him of my latest acting triumph, another local television spot. " You know, Charlie," he said, "You do pretty well just screwing around with acting. What would happen if you really made a commitment to being an Actor?"

Something in that simple question struck home. What would happen if I really did make a commitment to being an Actor . . . capital "A", and no quotation marks? Perhaps the reason that I had never been able to settle into any other career was that even though I had never been willing to make that commitment to being an actor, I also had never been willing to give it up. Consequently I had moved from job to job, never really committing myself to any of them, either.

After several days of thought, I came to a decision. From then on ACTING was going to be my "real job." From that moment on I would do all the things that were necessary to become a true professional. I would join AFTRA as my first step toward professionalism. I would take the classes. I would spend the money for good headshots, business cards, postcards, and all the necessary tools for success in the business (and it is a business) of acting. I had made what I now realize was a "Spiritual Commitment" to be true to myself, and simply TRUST that I was doing the right thing.

Suddenly, amazing things began to happen! Within a week I received a phone call from a local agent in Sacramento telling me that the movie "IMPULSE" was being shot in the area and that the director had seen an old Polaroid shot of me in her office. (Talk about ill-prepared; I didn't even have a headshot!) She said that they wanted me as the town barber in the film, and that although it was only a "featured" extra part (what the hell is that?) with no lines, that I would be in several scenes and would be in a good position for an upgrade. Sure enough, the second day on the set I was told to ad lib a line, and suddenly I was eligible for my SAG card! A few days after I finished working on "IMPULSE", I got another call from the same agent, telling me that they were shooting "CHATTANOOGA CHOO CHOO" in Sacramento and that I had an audition for the part of the Mayor. I showed up with what seemed to be every middle-aged male in Northern California, and a few days later I had done my second movie in a month ... in Sacramento, of all places!

The next call that came was to inform me that a Kellogg's Crispix spot was going to be shot in the area. They were auditioning for it in Chicago and in L.A., but since I was a SAG member they would also give me a shot at it. That was my first National commercial, and it led me to signing with Craig Jones, an excellent agent in San Francisco. (Craig still represents me, and has taken on some of the current ACTors also.)

It seems that making that "Spiritual Commitment" in the fall of 1984 triggered something. My whole attitude about my chances of success and about myself changed. Since that time one good thing after another has happened to me. I've done numerous other national and regional commercials in addition to the Kellogg's, and my list of credits in Television, Movies and Theatre is constantly growing.

I truly believe that we don't push things into place in the Universe; we attract things into place. When we put ourselves in the right place mentally and prepare ourselves properly with the right skills and attitudes, when we make that Commitment, that "decisive moral choice that involves us to a definite course of action," then the opportunities to succeed will present themselves to us. We need only to be open to receiving them, and then be willing to ACT upon them.

Charlie Holliday