Natalie Tucker (Credit: Clinton B Photography)
NOTE: Skip ahead to read Natalie Tucker's story below if you're already familiar with how this series works; if you're not familiar, please read my intro first for context...
I’ve done this once a year, every year, for the last 4 years, and your responses have always been enthusiastic, so I figured, why not continue? Especially with the site’s readership continuing to evolve, just as I’d expect of your individual lives as creatives on the move.
A decent number of you are in the business (whether just getting started, or are seasoned veterans, or somewhere else) – actors, actresses, directors, DPs, editors, writers, producers etc, etc, etc. Some have made it to the point at which they are able to earn a living utilizing their artistic and/or technical skills; others – and I’d say the majority – are what we’ve labeled the proverbial *starving artists*, working diligently, relentlessly, struggling to climb an incredibly steep hill, trying to reach some self-defined pinnacle of success – whether personal or professional. And still others exist somewhere between the former and the latter.
Where do you fall? As the title of this post states, what’s YOUR story? And would you like to share it with the rest of us?
I’m looking for your individual stories of struggle and/or success, regardless of what rung on the ladder you are currently on. In addition to delivering industry news, reviews of films, interviews with talent, this site (and its various social media extensions) has also always aimed to function as a community of sorts – a space for artists to share, engage, teach, learn, grow, commiserate, gain some exposure, and more. And this “What’s Your Story?” feature is one example of that specific effort.
It takes a certain amount of courage to be able to be vulnerable and share one’s journey, but I suppose that’s exactly what I’m asking you to do; as I said, it’s been a mostly successful series, as others have been willing to share in the last few years that we’ve done this.
You might learn something; you might teach someone something; you might meet someone virtually who positively affects your journey in some way; and more.
So what’s YOUR story?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “What’s Your Story” in the subject heading. You can submit your story in any format – written, or even documented on video – and I’ll post it here on the site. I recommend being honest and thorough; not just a written ad for your next project. It could be a story about a current situation you find yourself in; or it could cover several days, weeks, months, or years of your career. It could be that you just want to vent your frustrations; aspects of, or people in this business that piss you off; aspects of, or people in the industry that encourage you. It doesn’t have to be all negative, nor all positive. We’re all complex people and so I assume our stories are as well. And be sure to attach a photo (hi-res) for me to include (although it doesn’t have to be a photo of yourself; just make sure you have the rights to whatever image you send), and if you have samples of your work, include them as well. Posts with visual aids tend to travel more.
There’s no deadline, so send as you will.
For a sample of past submissions so you can get an idea of what’s been done before, click here.
You can also email me if you have any questions about what to submit, or anything else related to this series.
Kicking off the 2017 edition of "What’s YOUR story?" is actress Natalie Tucker who, in January 2016, decided to quit her corporate job after 20 years, to pursue acting full-time. Read her story below; check out her reel; follow her on Twitter, Instagram, etc.
My name is Natalie Tucker. I left the perfect six-figure multicultural marketing job after 20 years in Washington, DC to pursue acting full time in New York while still a married mother of two teens in Maryland. Crazy huh? I loved my job yet I was acting as a side hustle for eight years doing theatre, commercials, industrials and voiceovers between Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland. I applied for a promotion and didn’t get it but could have stayed in my current position. I was upset about it for one whole day. I prayed and cried all night. Then I woke up the next day with so much clarity that I chose to leave with a 20-year severance package, my bonus and five weeks of vacation with my family’s full support. That was January 2016. So for the past year, I’ve been pursuing acting full time between DC and New York.
I started that job as intern getting my Master’s degree in social work, so I have never not had a job. Working for myself? Scared out of my mind. Not getting a regular paycheck? Terrified. I paid off most of my debt with my severance and my husband put the family on his insurance so that was comforting but I was still nervous. Nevertheless, I made a plan to act full time and expand to New York. A few months before I left my job, I interviewed full-time actors about how they do what they do. I took acting classes in New York to get to know casting directors and agents and for them to get to know me. You know, small fish in a big pond? After a few months of grinding, I got two New York agents and a manager. Slowly but surely, I started going to NYC, by bus, once or twice a month, then once or twice every few weeks, then 2-4 times every week. A sorority sister let me stay on her couch, for free, for a whole year. Recently, I got a NYC apartment that I share with another actor to stay during the week for auditions and go home to my family in Maryland on weekends. I still go by bus every week because I’m on a working actor’s budget but I have a New York address.
I started my own business NGT Consulting, LLC that combines my multicultural marketing experience with my love of the theatre and founded Blackstage DC. This social media platform highlights news, backstage stories and success of actors of color and multicultural theatre stories in the greater Washington, DC area. I interview DC actors that are making their Broadway or television/film debuts, share when local actors go to other regional theatres or promote shows that are relevant to multicultural communities in order to increase the diversity in audiences. My first interview was with Baltimore native Andre De Shields, the original Wiz! Even have some correspondents on board to help me. I’m also a theatre writer for an online magazine called DC Refined. This business is now my side hustle.
Since I made the leap, I am the happiest I have ever been. In my entire life! Now, I am no where near making the money I made before but I am absolutely and positively content. I have been in a few commercials and industrials since in New York so I’m doing what I love…on my own terms. Do you know how liberating that feels? My husband told me that God’s work isn’t always pretty. If that door hadn’t closed on that promotion, I wouldn’t be fulfilling my destiny as a full-time actor and an entrepreneur.
Twitter: @Nat_Tuck + @Blackstage_DC
Instagram: @nataliegravestucker @blackstage_DC