Why I'm No Longer Pursuing Acting
For those of you following me on Instagram and Snapchat, you know that for the last month, I’ve been touring an incredibly special educational play. It's an original work about Japanese American internment during World War II called Nihonjin Face, and I am incredibly honoured to bring this story to life, especially with the current state of the U.S. and the rest of the world. So my announcement probably comes as a shock to most. It’s something that I’m still becoming comfortable with; acting was my life for 8 years after all! But with each new day, I become more comfortable with the decision to no longer pursue acting as my career.
Before you think this is my sob story about how I can no longer endure the rejection, about how I don’t think I’m “good enough,” or that I’ve realised that acting was just a frivolous dream, let me set straight that NONE OF THOSE ARE TRUE. My dreams and goals haven’t changed; rather, I’ve realised that I’ve been approaching them in the wrong way.
I had actually decided to “quit” acting back in August, while performing in Do It For Umma. I made the decision after my anxiety was at its worst, and I spent the summer trying to get better, gain more weight/muscle mass, and reevaluate everything in my life. Part of that process was shifting my focus from acting to my newly rebranded Ugly Asian Girl blog. I even wrote a post announcing my departure from the world of acting, but it never went live. After the show closed, I went to London and Paris, and life got messy again. Soon after, I auditioned for Nihonjin Face on a whim and ended up being cast, and since then, I’ve been caught up in the whirlwind of rehearsals, touring, and being surrounded by the show’s positive energy. It was pretty easy to push aside the prospect of shocking all of my loved ones and committing to a new journey (new can be very scary)!
The thing is, acting and performing have never been the only thing I felt I could do. Growing up, I hated thinking about a career because I was overwhelmed by too many options. I showed naturally ability and interest in so many avenues, and my parents’ growing financial success only opened more possibilities. But while I’ve been a part of some great shows like Nihonjin Face and Do It For Umma, the truth is that I haven’t been living the life I want. I haven’t been happy.
I can’t explain all of the steps, decisions, and mistakes which led me to this point, but I want to try and make some sense for my friends and family why I made this decision. My father recently voiced his concerns about my quality of life, my future, plans, etc., but it’s a conversation I appreciate. We actually talked like adults for the first time in my life. I left with a lot to digest and think about, but in the end, the conclusion was surprisingly easy to make: I don’t enjoy acting as my job. It is not my “be all, end all.” It is undoubtedly a part of who I am and shaped me as a person, but it can’t be my career—at least in the traditional sense.
Pursuing acting, it’s difficult to maintain steady hours/income when auditions pop up with a few days notice. So much of your time and energy is spent rehearsing and driving to and from auditions for projects you won’t book. And the jobs which provide such flexibility pay very little in comparison to my $50,000+ in student loans. Many people live this lifestyle, but I’m finding it all maddening because I know I have my blog. I know I have so many other skills and creative talents I can use, which I have to ignore to focus on acting.
I know that some people may respond to my decision with things like “You’ve just got to suck it up” or“Live the hustle” or “Be more motivated. Do more.” And yes. Sometimes people need to hear that, but it only hurts someone in my situation. It only wastes more of my time and talents because I don’t actually like the acting industry itself. I won’t go into specifics, but if I had to choose between going to an audition and shooting a video for my blog, I would choose the latter. Why?
Because blogging provides me complete creative reign and control. I get to directly engage with my readers and followers and also feel the satisfaction of watching my “influence” (sounds so pretentious, sorry!) grow with time. I constantly have ideas for articles, shoots, videos, etc. but I don’t have the time/energy I want to devote to my brand because of rehearsals or auditions. The truth is that I’d rather be working on Ugly Asian Girl than my “traditional acting” duties.
For me, blogging is a form of performance, but it’s a kind which allows me to expose myself in an honest, fun, and empowering way while using a variety of other creative talents. That's not to say I won't ever want to perform again. I'm still with my agency, and if I book a commercial job then I'll definitely take it! Maybe I'll do a community show here and there, but for now, the occasional dance class and at-home sing session will do.
I returned to the U.S. because of a belief—a belief in the mission to change/diversify representations of Asian America in mainstream media and to serve as a role model for Asian American girls. It’s a mission I continue to support, and I believe that developing Ugly Asian Girl and my own brand will best utilize my skills and talents to further my purpose in life.
This blog has already led to my internship and growing relationship with Premier Media Group, collaborations with photographers and other creatives, and hopefully, more exciting opportunities and projects. I’ve got several collaborations in the works and some already in the post-production phase. Plus, I'm starting an extremely exciting business venture with my dad!
Life is exciting and beautiful, and if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, take the time to reflect and take care of yourself. Talk to a variety of people you trust and respect because you deserve the best from life. You only have one, and I’m not going to waste mine.