Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Achievement vs. Success

Promoting "Justice Woman" has proven to be an arduous task.  After years spent bringing the series to fruition, you want people to recognize all the hard work, time, money, sweat and tears you've put into it and somehow applaud you for it. There are those who will do just that, and god bless them for they get where I'm coming from, and then there are those who will ignore your work or, worse, belittle it. It is the latter "snobs" who somehow placate our hearts and minds with self-judgment and self-doubt even though on the scale of comparison with the praises received they are the most minuscule and insignificant of the bunch. Yet they manage to reach into our core and unleash our inner fears and anxieties. Why? Because we allow the snobs to reign over us by placing success above achievement. 

What is Success? 

Success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose; the attainment of popularity or profit; the outcome of an undertaking, specified as achieving or failing to achieve its aims.  It's a concept that exists outside of ourselves and is measured by social standards. That is, it is a social concept that is ever-evolving and has nothing to do with our happiness.

Success is the value that others place on our actions. It is not a bad concept; we need some success and social acceptance to survive. The problem is that success is out of our control; it's arbitrary; it implies a constant comparison to others; it depends on many factors and it can be fleeting.

What is Achievement?
Achievement is a thing done successfully, typically by effort, courage, or skill. On the contrary, achievement is a concept that is related to our motivation, self-fulfillment and personal efficiency. It comes into existence when we improve a certain aspect of ourselves. Thereby, implying effort and learning - enjoying the journey more than the end result.

Therefore, the current worrying over success is exaggerated and not something we should be so concerned therewith.

Here is a TED talk by Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success:

"Not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we are truly the authors of our own ambitions because it's bad enough not getting what you want, but it's even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn't in fact what you wanted all along." -Alain de Botton

Hence, "achievement" as opposed to "success" should be the focus since it ensures a more secure journey to happiness.  After all, isn't the purpose of life to be happy?

"What is the purpose of life? I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy." -Dalai Lama

Every now and then as creative beings we need to be reminded of why it is that we do what we do. It's not for "success", as defined by others, but for "achievement", as defined within ourselves.

I love the journey that I'm on with "Justice Woman" and with my career as an Artist. I look back and realize that this is where I'm meant to be in the present.  Yes, there will be "snobs" along the journey, but they don't define our achievements and they shouldn't define our success.

"Let's probe away at our notions of success. Let's make sure our ideas of success are truly our own." -Alain de Botton

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Making of Justice Woman

Six years ago, Justice Woman was only a domain name.  Growing up a fan of Batman and Wonder Woman, I figured Justice Woman would be a cool name for my alter ego, a lawyer superhero.  At the time, I didn’t know what I was going to do with the domain name or  with the rest of my life.
I had recently graduated law school and had a judicial clerkship lined up, a position that most would feel lucky to have straight out of law school, but I was miserable.  I had given up on my dreams of being a performer to pursue a path of so-called “success.” My spirit was slowly dying.  I reneged on my clerkship, but being unemployed was not the best alternative so, I stuck it out as a lawyer.  Never one to take well to authority and having an entrepreneurial spirit, I sought to find my own way as a solo practitioner.  It was then that I experienced the genesis of Justice Woman.  Without divulging specifics, hanging a shingle was an eye opening experience as I got to see firsthand how our legal system and the people in charge of it can work for both good and bad under the guise of the law. I wasn’t limited to the experiences of others; I too endured my share of injustices and disappointments enough to want out of the practice of law and back into acting. 
While studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I began writing short plays thanks to the encouragement of one of my acting teachers, Pamela Scott.  For some reason, dialogue just seemed to flow easily out of my head and onto the page (not sure what that says about me, but I think there’s a prescribed pill for that).  I quickly moved onto writing screenplays, mostly out of necessity; I needed an actor reel to showcase myself.  However, putting a reel together proved strenuous as I found myself hounding down directors to get copies of films I had performed in.  I figured with all the energy I was expending, I might as well write and film the story for Justice Woman, which had been percolating in the back of my head this whole time.
As I wrote JusticeWoman, a series of tumultuous events were happening throughout the world that fueled my desire to write not just on my behalf, but also on behalf of others who had suffered some form of injustice.  I began writing about the many unfair things that exist in our society pertaining to discrimination, homophobia, immigration, double standards, sexual hypocrisy, class power, political corruption and so forth.  Those became the issues that I wanted to tackle in JusticeWoman.  However, I took to heart Oscar Wilde’s saying that “if you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you” and put a humorist twist to my writing with remarkable results.
What had started out solely as a domain name gradually took the form of a short screenplay that grew to surpass the length of a feature film, which had to be parsed into a series.  A series that could go on into infinity because “[a]s long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other” –John Stuart Mill.  If history serves as a precedent, the battle for justice is ever ongoing.
As for directing, it became obvious that I needed to direct the series because as the writer I already had a vividly clear vision of how the story should unfold.  Besides, in the words of Woody Allen, “[t]his is not quantum physics.  If you’re the writer of the story, you know what you want the audience to see because you’ve written it.  It’s just common sense.  It’s just storytelling, and you tell it.”  However, directing and acting at the same time is challenging.  Therefore, I’ve been very fortunate to rely on the support of collaborating directors who have helped keep my vision of Justice Woman intact.
Six years later and I have found more than a purpose for a domain name in Justice Woman; I have found my purpose.  I am truly happy with the incredible work the cast and crew have done on the series and eagerly look forward to sharing JusticeWoman with everyone when it premieres October 4, 2012 online at http://www.JusticeWoman.com