Defining Success

Just after college – 2000 or shortly thereafter – I was cast in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. I thought I had made it. I was so happy. Successful. Working on one of the best stages in the region. I have never worked there since…

The summer after the above, I booked two Shakespeare shows, playing in rep, in an outdoor festival in Mt. Vernon. I played Leontes in A Winter’s Tale – a challenging role for any man twice my age. I accepted that challenge, and, while playing Demetrius in the sister show, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, had a one-two punch of drama and comedy. I felt like the man. Nothing could stop me…

Since then, I have grown up. A lot. Or, at least I like to think I have. I have not made a lot of money acting. I have had to support myself with two, sometimes three jobs, while being saved from financial disaster from the parental units on occasion or two, as well.

I have been performing and studying since 1998. That’s 14 years. From 2000 – today, I have dedicated at least half of my “working life” to artistic endeavors. I have had the “day job” or two along the way, and since 2006, I have managed a fairly successful dog walking/training company. I wish I could say that I earned the kind of living I want through acting alone, but I can’t. DOES THIS MEAN I AM UNSUCCESSFUL?

I have had good reviews. And terrible ones, too. One of my first acting teachers told me, “If you’re going to believe the good reviews, then you’ll have to believe the bad ones as well.” I have always taken reviews fairly seriously, at least when they were written well, but still, a good review does not define success.

For me, artistic success comes when I feel like I have participated in something unique, collaborative, or fueled by a passion for excellence, depth, and meaning. And, of course, I always have to do my best (thank you, Don Miguel Ruiz). I also find artistic success when I am stretched as an artist by plying my craft in a new way. For instance, last year I had three major artistic successes: 1. I shot my first pilot TV show (Thunderballs – paid SAG scale, which made me feel successful), which was definitely unique. 2. Then, I shot my first feature (Shadowed) which was fueled by passion and 3. Finally, I shot a beautiful short film (All My Presidents), which was also passionately executed. 2011 rocked.

Now, along with the three aforementioned 2011 successes, I also worked an Equity acting job with Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Wooden O Theatre…

So, how did I “celebrate?” I started this blog and enrolled in an acting class. The Journey. The Process. Never. Stops.

I do make the occasional checklist or resolution, especially near the end of the year, so as 2011 reached its expiry, I jotted a few mental notes about 2012: Work on Grimm or Leverage, shoot another feature, perform in a great play, network better, and continue training.

I can tell you now, it is April of 2012, and my checklist is COMPLETE! I booked a role on Grimm and opened The Art of Racing in the Rain (ON THE SAME DAY!), and I had a one-liner role in a feature film (well, a made for TV movie) called…yep…Bigfoot. I have been networking in my local film community like a mad dog, and I took an amazing class with John Jacobsen. THE YEAR IS NOT HALF WAY DONE!

And, I can tell you, one reason I feel so successful right now is that through playing a dog in an amazing adaptation of an incredible book, with a phenomenal cast, I am touching audiences and bringing people joy.

Thanks for reading.

~ DSH

10 thoughts on “Defining Success

  1. I just saw you in the most recent episode of Grimm! I was kind of half paying attention to the screen, when I looked up and saw you. It took a minute of wondering if it was or wasn’t, but your post confirms it! Congratulations! I thought you did an amazing job, David!

  2. That which you manifest is before you.
    So proud of you. Today. Last year. 11 years ago when I first met you and knew you would one day be my husband. Keep working, sharing and growing!!

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