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Brotherhood Mentality

Here’s an article I wrote for B-Side Productions about what “family” is to me… I hope you enjoy! B-Sides is an NYC based production company (and community for that matter) that I’m proud to be a part of – www.b-sideproductions.org

BROTHERHOOD MENTALITY – by Kyle Robert Carter

I had an audition a couple weeks ago that really stuck with me. As we all know, there’s tons of factors that can deter your mind from being 100% committed to every single audition – maybe you have five auditions this week so you’ve decided to focus on three and let the others “be whatever they’re gonna be”, or maybe you’ve got five shifts at work this week, you’re exhausted and just can’t give all of yourself to your audition that day; it can literally be anything. That’s why when I have an audition that sticks out in my mind I really try to dissect it and figure out what it was about that experience that still has me thinking about it weeks later.

This particular audition was for a regional version of Godspell, not even close to my favorite musical. So in my mind I thought this was definitely going to be a one and done audition – Go in, knock it out, leave it in the room, and on to the next. I was called in for Jesus/Barker, so I prepared the material and felt confident. I didn’t even end up reading the Jesus sides. I think they fancied me more for the Barker once they heard me sing, so they focused on the Barker sides. The audition went very well… but just as I had suspected, on to the next.

Thought this story was going to be about the audition itself?  Nope, not in the least bit.

 It was a pretty standard audition. But, about a week later I went to clean out my audition binder and stumbled upon those Godspell sides. I don’t know what it was but I decided to re-read them again, just to see if I still felt the same shifts and choices I had thought about the week prior when preparing for the audition.

This time a statement triggered my brain more viscerally than it had before. Jesus says,

“You have my Father’s blessing. Come and enter the kingdom that has been ready since the world was made. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, when I was naked and without a home you took me to your house, and when I was ill and in prison, you came to my aid.”

 The followers say that they are confused because they don’t remember doing any of these things for Jesus, and he responds,

“Anything you did for one of your brothers here, however humble, you did for me.”

I grew up Catholic and I went to the University of Notre Dame, maybe the second or third most Catholic university in the country, but I have always been much more individually spiritual than actually a part of the organized religion. Despite that, this particular Biblical parable is one I remember reading as a teenager and actually connecting to. The one used in Godspell – Matthew 25:34-40 – as well as Luke 6:27-36 both relate to how we treat each other as human beings – The Golden Rule, if you will.

I didn’t grow up with excess. As my mom and I said to each other on the phone one day just reflecting on some childhood memories, “We always had what we needed, but anything we wanted was the part of life we had to fight tooth and nail for.” Problem for me is, ever since I was a very little kid, I’ve had extremely high aspirations. I knew what university I wanted to go to when I was 6 years old and when senior year of high school came around I only applied to that school, and got accepted. While the singular personal pronoun “I” was used 4 times in that sentence, it does not even come close to encapsulating the entire community of human beings that it took for me to accomplish that feat; in my case, “I” defies the laws of its grammatical definition.

I’m an only child and since both of my parents worked long and odd hour jobs, I was pretty much always at a babysitter’s house, at a daycare center, or, once 4th grade came, I started staying with my best friend’s family after school and in the summer time up until 8th grade, when I was finally old enough to start staying home by myself. I figured out very young what respecting other people’s homes and property meant, and that the more respect you showed other people, the more likely they were to want to help you. I applied it to every aspect of my life. As a result, I always found myself in situations where people would hear me talk about my goals and dreams and tell me that they wanted to help me succeed at them. I’ve never lived near any of my extended family and so while my immediate family only consisted of my mom, dad, and I, I started to look at everyone as my family member.

These people kept helping me accomplish things, so I started asking myself, what could I do for them?  My test scores were NOT how I got into Notre Dame; I think the average SAT score at ND in ’05 was in the 1400s. I fell asleep during my SAT, got a 1090, and didn’t want to waste money taking it again. I got into Notre Dame because of my “family”. My extracurricular activity list was two and a half pages long because if anyone needed anything, I tried to help them with it. Need someone for your study group? I’m in. A friend needs a singer for a beginner guitar class concert to wear a blonde wig and sing Kelly Clarkson? Let’s do it. Engineering teacher asked if I wanted to be a Virginia regional Technology Student Association President because no one had volunteered that year. I said yes. I think she had just as much fun as I did going to and leading all of those meetings across the state. Librarian needed someone crazy enough to walk around the mall dressed like the Cat in The Hat to promote Read Across America Day for local elementary school kids, hell yea!

The more I cared about other people’s goals as much as I cared about my own, the more reciprocal the rewards were.

What we do as actors is hard. We spend what will end up being like 90% of our actual time trying to get a job, not actually having one. Hours and hours of unpaid work preparing for a role that you’re not tall enough for. Thousands of dollars on classes and lessons that won’t pay for themselves until that 100th commercial audition that you get a national spot for. As a result, there are dark times. There are just as many ebbs as there are flows. In those times, we’re only human and we will find ways to blame ourselves for whatever it is we’re lacking. I know it’s hard to re-ignite motivation when you’re in a deep rut as an actor, but I’m telling you, take that singular personal pronoun of “I” and expand it outward. Go find a friend or a family member you care about and ask them about a goal they have. Not necessarily an acting goal, just whatever they are interested in. Spend the next portion of your time helping them accomplish that goal. I promise along the way you will meet people you didn’t think you’d meet, you’ll get inspiration you didn’t have before, and if you can separate your own ego out of wanting a return of investment for yourself, you will learn to care about something you hadn’t thought you cared about before. Hey… at minimum, you won’t be lamenting in your own bubble of self-doubt and fear, and that’s what is ultimately preventing the mind from progressing to the next task. Be the best version of yourself, not only for yourself, but for everyone around you.

I’m not preaching any of this to say this is some mind-blowingly correct way to live life. I’m just saying that if you find yourself in a dark place, having a really hard time achieving a goal you’ve set, maybe you’re thinking too singularly – try allowing your branches to get nourishment from the goals of the people around you.

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Coming up for air…

Hey everyone!!! It’s been a looooong time since I posted a new blog up here. In all honesty, I have literally just had my head down, taking each day stroke by stroke trying to fight to the next echelon of this artistry. I’ll pop up for air real quickly just to give you an update on where I am.

The most challenging aspect of living life at this level of being an actor is the fact that no two days are the same. Every single day, you’re looking at your calendar trying to figure out what rehearsal/show you have now, what show you might be able to get next, what show you might be lucky enough to have in the future, and then as the cherry and whip cream on top are your family, relationships, and friends.  It is very difficult to live a life where you literally never know who will call you on what day to give you work at a point in time that you hadn’t even planned for… or even worse you get a phone call that you have work, but something happened and now that work you planned for (maybe quit your job to take, or sublet your apartment because it was out of town) has been rescinded. You live in a world where every decision you make that involves a date on a calendar is flexible whether you like it or not. I say it now as I’ve said it before – if you have a friend or family member who is trying to be an actor or entertainer as a profession, just give them a big hug and tell them you love them (or if you’re just a friend, that you’ve got their back) because this is the craziest job you can do with regard to testing your mental limits.

I’ve been in St. Paul, MN the last two weeks and have been so thankful for the friends and family I have out here who have come out to either see the show or just hang out. That community and those moments of fraternity are invaluable; I am so thankful to have so much support especially when I meet people in this profession who are on their own and to the contrary have everyone telling them that they should quit. (Some of them probably should, but in all honesty, that is only a decision that can come from within yourself. You telling me to quit is only going to make me fight harder against you – ya feel me?)

SO, my goal for this year has been to only work as an actor and to not have a day job. Thus far, I have succeeded. In addition, my goal is to slowly but sure start creating two fun videos per month and begin to build myself a production company. For now, I have The Wild Party script in front of me and am ready to jump in to this next show on Wednesday as I finish out Paint Your Wagon this weekend. The journey continues!!!

Love you all,

Kyle Robert Carter

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“What The Hell Are You Afraid Of?”

Hey everyone!!… Here’s an essay I wrote about my journey with “moving” at auditions that I did for my very good friends Jesse and Elise who have a dance studio called Motivated Movers here in NYC. They work with actors on developing more confidence in their bodies so even if your primary focus is acting or singing, you’re still confident enough to dance when called upon at an audition and not look out of place. Check out the full article here!… Here’s a snippet to pique your interest (just recently learned the proper spelling of this phrase, hahaha)

“And thus my power comes from me trying to be better for myself. Whatever happens beyond that is what happens. I’m an artist, I’m an actor/singer, and I’m a mover, and I intend to be the best I can be in all of those categories at any given moment in time. I’m always working to be better and know more than the day before.”

Love, Kyle

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“There’s a difference between being successful and being significant.”

I could not agree with this statement more. The deeper and deeper I get in to my growth as an actor I realize that “success” to me doesn’t involve recognition on a large scale – but significance does. I want my legacy to be as a leader who chose performing as a profession as opposed to a performer who occasionally led people. I see so many successfully broken people in the entertainment industries as I continue on my journey, but to me the people I consistently find myself interested in are the people who don’t milk success for it’s egotistical/economical rewards but rather find a significant purpose with which to direct success. I want to be one of those people – all of you out there, continue to hold me accountable to that goal and I will continue to make it my number one priority.

This little nugget of thought I had today is brought to you by one of my favorite people these days, Russell Wilson. Enjoy this video and this is the mentality I take towards my career; and anyone can in whatever career they participate in. Every day, no matter your level of expertise, you HAVE to actively uncover knowledge that continues your growth.

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I would like to say Thank You to my appendix…. NOT!

Hello my friends!!!

Well, I’m sitting here, post appendectomy surgery with nothing to do and that means it’s time to write, lol… First of all, can we talk about how useless and stupid the appendix is, not only because it can randomly become inflamed, but also because mine decided to randomly become inflamed the day before my FINAL CALLBACK for the new Broadway musical Holler If You Hear Me. I felt so bad for the Surgery Doctor who came to tell me the news Thursday night, because my girlfriend and I both sat there mouth agape in silence. The doctor thought it was because I was worried I needed surgery until we told her it was because I had a HUUUUGE audition the next day. The staff at Lower Manhattan New York Presbyterian Hospital were all so nice though, every time one of the surgeons or assistants came in to check on me, they would ask if my agent had received any news from the casting team if I would be able to audition for them again. So nice of them… The answer to their question, is not at the moment. It’s all good though, in my previous auditions for them, I gave it my all and showed what I can bring to the table, so though it may not happen on opening night – if the show is received well and remains for a little while, i should get a shot on the next round of casting.

So far to start out this year I have had very little free time, which is a good thing. I booked back to back shows to start the year. One was a very Off-Broadway play called Philosophy for Gangsters and the other was a musical showcase called Sweetie. I did not have a single day off from February 2 – March 31…. That was ROUGH!!! Neither gig payed well enough to pay the bills, so any second I wasn’t working on the shows, I was at my day job making up the difference. I definitely felt what it was like to be on the 70-80 hr work week. For those of you out there that live that as your normal work week, God Bless You because I almost went crazy, lol… It’s very very difficult to stay focused on the stage, which always takes a lot out of you, and then find the motivation to care enough at the restaurant you work to make money. You can be a server and not care, but your tips will suffer; I’m not about that. I’m going for 20% tip every time and thusly am equally exhausted after day job work as acting work.

The Sweetie showcase was soooo much fun. First of all it was directed by Pat Birch – don’t know who that is? Look her up right now, if you’re in musical theatre, she is top tier. Secondly, it was the first time I’ve ever performed in anything as an actual musician. Last year for Storyville, I fake played the trumpet while an actual trumpet player played behind me. For Sweetie, I actually played harmonica in the show… Now, for those of you who didn’t know I can play the harmonica, I’ll let you in on how that came to be. Up until I went to college my top sport was Tennis (yes this is going somewhere, I promise), and I was pretty doggone good at it. Definitely could’ve gone somewhere to play, but I was no where near good enough to play at a top Div I school nor had the desire to put in that kind of sports effort once I got in to Notre Dame on an academic scholarship. As a kid though, my dad (who used to play professionally in the 80s) was a Tennis teacher and my coach. One of my favorite things to do with one of his summer camps is that we would get to go to the Legg Mason USTA tournament in Washington D.C… Well, one year at the Legg Mason they had this little mini-tennis court and they had a “tournament” to see who was the best mini-court player, hosted by the Jensen Brothers. (waaaay before the Bryan Brothers, who are all clean cut and amazing – there were the Jensen Brothers in the early 90s who both had long hair and acted like rock stars. They only ever ended up winning one Grand Slam title, but to kids they were the shit) Anyway, I won the little mini-court tournament and my prize from the Jensen Brothers was a harmonica (why, I have no clue). Since that day, I always played it for fun and once I moved to LA and had no job and was just figuring my way around, I used all of my free time to actually learn what the instrument was about. Eventually I got to the point where I realized I needed a real instrument instead of a hobby toy to get better, so last year my girlfriend bought me a professional harmonica… and now, after doing the Sweetie musical, I can actually say that I am a harmonica player, instead of just a person who can kind of play harmonica.

Well, time to get up and walk around a little bit, sitting in bed is making my legs stiffen up… ugh, this surgery thing is no joke!!!

Adios,

Kyle

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Che Sará, Sará!!

“Here we are, and there is was… that Basin Street Station, The Delta Express!!! Stand back and watch the people come to Storyville!!”

Now that Storyville is done, and I finally have a free day to sit down and write a little bit, I can just say in reflection of the Storyville experience – I really am extremely lucky to have such supportive friends and family. It is always an absolute pleasure to see familiar faces in the audience and after the show. Someone asked me one time if I’m the kind of actor who doesn’t want to know when someone is in the audience to see me, and I responded, “absolutely not.” I make it a challenge to see if I can make that particular show something uniquely special for whoever is there to see it. So that when people compare stories to different shows they’ve seen, they find that they aren’t sharing any redundancy. As per the cast, creative team, and York Theatre tech personnel – what an amazing little core we set up in our short time together. It was a very rocky ride to opening night (we didn’t get nearly as much rehearsal in as we wanted, and thusly were forced to make additions, subtractions, and adjustments during preview week, pretty much on the fly), but every one stayed focused despite shaky composures and netted a great New York Times review, which is never an easy accomplishment. Every week the show got more and more vibrant, and as Jim (our producer) would always say to donors who asked what the future of the show will be, “your donation of a mere 6 million dollars will find this show on a Broadway stage.”… While that is a distant future in a land of money sprouting from oak trees, the only rumor I’m happy to spread is that word got to the Mayor of New Orleans that our show was inspiring and he called our producer personally to discuss the possibilities of a New Orleans show. What those discussions yield is for time to tell… For me, it’s back to auditions and “che sará, sará.”

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The Daily Grind

Well hello everyone!!! I know it has been quite a while, a few months, in fact. To start, I’m still alive and breathing oxygen and managing to pay my rent and eating decently healthy food. I’d call that doing pretty damn well in the book of life, lol… And therein lies my inspiration for today’s post. This isn’t an uncommon question, but for anyone out there who may want a little more clarity on the topic, WHAT IS AN ACTOR WHEN THEY’RE NOT ACTING?… and I don’t mean that in the mega-Hollywood actor sense, but the every day actor whose just trying to book a professional gig.

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21 – Roberto Clemente

Hey everyone!!

So over the last two weeks I had the wonderful opportunity to play Roberto Clemente in a developing musical called 21 by Alki Steriopolous. It was an absolute whirlwind of an experience that left me so exhausted when I was finally done, that I got home and could barely move, hahaha. It was only a reading of the musical which I’ll explain more about in a minute, but I really hope that I made a good enough impression to be considered again if the musical finds more monetary backing.

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A Funny Audition on the way to the forum

Hey everyone!

So as promised on my Facebook page, I am going to attempt to express the “interesting”-ness that was this Robert Wilson audition I had about two weeks ago… But first, quick update… Lombardi has been a really fun show to be a part of. It’s simple, quick, to the point, and I feel it’s been perfect for our market in Smithtown because most of the audience members were actually alive during that time period and the jokes are really resonating with them. Rehearsal for Charlie Brown started last week, which means that I’m now on the train for three hours total EVERY DAY. I’m getting real tired of it, but then I remember that my mom (and thousands of other Northern Virginians) make the trip from Woodbridge and beyond to DC everyday for decades, so then I stop complaining like a whiny actor, hahaha. Last but not least, I get to play Roberto Clemente in the upcoming workshop presentation of a new musical called “21” in November. This job has more potential than even In The Heights did, only because we’ll be presenting the show to new investors in NYC (as opposed to Heights where, yea we were on tour, but noone in NYC could’ve given a crap, lol). As long as I make sure to put my A game out there, it will lead to this being a wonderful marketing opportunity for me. This being my first workshop, I’ll share whatever I’m legally allowed to share to fill everyone in on how this process operates; it’ll be a learning experience for all of us!!

Ok, so this audition…

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The Big Apple

Hey everybody!!… First off, if you are the type of person,  just have a tiny moment of silence in reflection for everyone battling cancer, we lost my best friend’s mom this week and most everyone knows someone these days who is battling this ever-evolving disease… (moment)…

Alright, It’s been a while since I wrote anything, and that’s because I have literally been working my butt off, trying to play catch up with the competition that’s in New York.

Since moving to NYC on July 1st, the most important thing I can say is… This IS NOT LA. I had myself mentally prepared for the move, but now that I’m here, I see just how much more competitive, not just the acting world is, but the entire city itself. In Los Angeles, everyone is hustling, but with the understanding of.. “oh, hey, if it doesn’t work out today, it’ll work out tomorrow… I’m late 5 minutes to my meeting? it’s all good, the other person’s probably late too, traffic on the 101 is real bad today.”… In NYC, it’s straight Darwin! Survival of the fittest, eat or be eaten; and it’s not just the other actors your jockeying for position with, it’s everywhere… on the subway, in line at Starbucks, playing pick-up bball in the park, crossing the street… everyone is trying to fit 36 hours into a 24 hour day, and if you’re not moving that fast, you WILL get left behind!!

I LOVE IT!!! I’ll take that challenge NYC, lol

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