Inventing Yourself

I’m watching this stellar television program on Amazon Prime called Mozart in the Jungle.

In a recent episode, they discussed how we each invent ourselves.

This really resonated with me.

In high school, I invented myself as a would-be rock star. I dressed in red zebra stripes (including spandex), torn jeans, leopard print, and other way out clothes courtesy of shops on L.A.’s famed Melrose Avenue.

In college I reinvented myself as a would-be music producer and manager. This persona lasted several post-college years as my good friend Jeff Schiewe and I tried to make a go of a talent management business while I also worked for Red Light Records, Razor Records, and A&M Records. During that time I produced the album Live in a Day for a brilliant up and coming country-rock band The Fingerprint File.

After the business failed, I reinvented myself again as a professional actor. This identity has continued on through today. In 1996 I became the first celebrity guest star in the environmental theater smash hit Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding – starting off in Chicago and then branching out to other companies in cities across the U.S.. In 1996 I was also a Best Actor nominee in the Pioneer Press annual theater awards for my performance in Noises Off under the direction of the late, great Sally Moomey. In 1999 my performance as Tony in West Side Story in Los Angeles earned me acknowledgement as a Best Bet by the respected L.A. Times.

In the early 2000’s I was splitting time between L.A. and Chicago. I studied Soap Opera Technique under Gwynn Hilliar, casting director for General Hospital, and Improv at Chicago’s famed Second City. I appeared across the country in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, West Side Story, and Bye Bye Birdie. And, in 2005 I was named alongside Donny Osmond and Patrick Cassidy as one of the Top Three Headliners in the World for the musical Joseph…Dreamcoat.

During that time I also established myself in the writing field. My screenplay Heroes landed a deal for Michael Dorn of Star Trek The Next Generation and Star Trek Deep Space Nine fame to star and direct. In 2002 I published my first novel, My Fractured Life. The book was named an Amazon.com Top Ten Recommendation and was optioned for feature film development.

Shortly after getting married in 2004 and having my first child in 2005, I needed to get off the road and turned my attentions to reinventing myself as the Golden Boy of Public Relations. As the head of public relations and marketing for Other World Computing I elevated documented editorial media coverage by 2,700% and earned company notoriety as one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing companies. As the head of public relations for Empire Today I increased documented TV, Radio, Print, & Internet media alert pick-up 771%, increased media interviews 3,394%, and grew product television placement by 1,700%.

In 2008 my whole world changed as I was hospitalized and diagnosed with a severe disability. It took years of trying different medications to find ones that would allow me to function with some semblance of my old self. My life was a dark place. I wasn’t trying to reinvent myself as disabled. It just happened.

In 2010 I returned to writing, publishing the sequel to My Fractured Life entitled Blood Lust. The book flopped miserably. But, I didn’t let that stop me and in 2013 my first non-fiction book Unbecoming Travolta was published shining a light on mental illness and exposing myself to the world with all my flaws. It had very respectable sales of over 5,000 copies.

Finally in 2016 I returned to the stage, again inventing myself as an actor. My performance as McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest landed me a Best Actor nomination in the Broadway World Chicago Theater Awards. In 2017 I filmed two movies (The Lurker and Old Advice from a Dead Friend) and six episodes of the series Upstaged.

I am eager to see what 2018 has in store for me. My hope is to continue to work in the acting field – keeping that identity active and healthy.

How we invent ourselves is a different story for each individual. Not everyone will reinvent themselves over and over as I have. Some people will invent themselves once or twice and be happy with that life. Others may reinvent themselves far more times than I have. It really doesn’t matter as long as you are happy.

My advice is to be true to you. If that means taking on new challenges, great. If that means being content in the life you’ve carved out for yourself, that’s cool too. Whatever the goals are that you set for yourself, go for it with all the gusto you can manage.

Peace. Love Trust.

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