Recently when I wished someone a Happy Birthday, that my wish was for him to enjoy his special day, he thanked me and said something special. He wished me a special day, every day. I parked that thought in my head. We know every day is different. How can each and every day be special? I had my birthday celebrations last month. Looking at the year past, there were some memorable days that stood out. One of these memorable days, this one day, started out like any other day in December. The sky was overcast with a strange stripe of light at the far end as I set out to lunch with this actor who had been away for a while. I gathered news of him mostly from media coverage. To some in the entertainment industry, he had seen better days. To me, he was an actor who had yet to find his career defining role.
Reaching the restaurant, I could not recognise him at first. His hair covered a part of his face. When he smiled his smile which had captivated fans across the region, I saw the unmistakable warmth which had lit his characters in movies and TV series. I remember his opening greeting well. “Good to see you again, Daniel. I am not smiling because everything is fine. I am smiling because I am grateful somethings are still fine.” After some pleasantries, we could pick up where we left off and soon we were chatting like he never left Singapore to try to make it in West. Life was not easy. For every role he auditioned for, there were more than twenty other actors, who were equally good, and equally hungry to be cast. His savings were slowly but surely depleting. Yes, he was down. But he was not out.
I have sometimes wondered where independent actors find their relentless energy and spirit. How they go back again and again to audition. To get into yet another character. To play it out in front of people who may or may not be appreciative. Nine out of ten times, to be dismissed. Yet to professional actors, this is what they do. To not just play it out. But to emote almost instantly in the right context. In fact, some accomplished actors thrive in the most difficult auditions. After a while, they are doing it as much for the people who decide their fate, as they are doing it for themselves. Every audition is a chance to hone their craft. This actor friend told me it was more difficult in a foreign land. Where he had to build a support group from scratch. Yet, he stayed hopeful because of this adage – anything can happen in one day. “Everyday is a new hope. Maybe today is my lucky day.”
I left the lunch pondering over hopefulness and hopelessness. He had been at it for a while. Was he hopelessly hopeful? I didn’t know. Until that evening. I was reading a script. My mobile was on silent. I felt the vibration. I was going to continue to read when I thought it could be important. It was. Very important. A call from this actor. From the airport. He had auditioned for what he proclaimed to be the role of a lifetime and he was on his way to shoot it! I was speechless. Overwhelmed with joy for him. And for that one day. His voice was choked with excitement, gratitude and what sounded like vindication at last. Yes everyday was a new hope and today was his lucky day. His special day. Weeks later, I received some location shots from him. Looking every inch the role he was playing. Smiling his winning smile…
‘Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today.’ – Mark Twain.