I am a failed star. When I was a kid and we went to rent a video, I looked at the covers and thought that one day it would be me on there. It felt right. When I met my childhood fav author Astrid Lindgren, sitting in that armchair being interviewed for TV I knew, one day that will be me in that armchair with cameras and lights on my face. I started acting at 5. Theatre and TV. I played in the national theatre at 13. My career path was set. I didn’t have the need to be a Hollywood star. Just famous in Germany would suffice.
Like my favourite humourist Loriot. That’s all. A household name, adored where I live. As I thought further of the implications of being really well known and the lack of privacy and being the dork me, I thought it might be better to be famous in a different country so I could get my admiration fix and being big and shiny there and have a very good life in private at home. This works best when you have contacts in those countries.I left Germany with 23 so becoming famous there from abroad faded.
In England and the US I encountered the accent problem. I was competing against the natives and unless I wanted to be known as the German Girl, there was no role I was told. I have more in me than being “the German Girl”.
I had better things to do than argue.
I went for singing. And may I say I have had 6 published CDs. 3 with Zyxx and one with Sony, 2 with my own label. But did I make it? I didn’t make a living from it. (well I did from corporate gigs but does that count?)
I performed to up to 1000 people at a time. There was a time when teenagers would climb over a 2m fence to get my autograph and would bang against doors and ask me to sign a jacket with a permanent marker and the parent said it was ok.It’s a long time ago.
I performed over 50 one woman shows. My Own shows. My songs, my comedy, my stories, I produced them. It was completely my thang.
But did I become known and booked? Not since I left Germany. I had to organize and stage every single event. It was such hard work. And so expensive. And I’ve always dreamed of being “taken on”. That something would flow forth from my efforts. Someone would discover me and actually help me get a foot in the door, get things rolling. Just like in business you’d hope for a referral when a job went well. You don’t want to start from scratch every time a contract finishes. Well, that’s how it feels to me.
I am a failed star. I stopped acting and concentrated on singing, comedy and as my cash flow project Madonna Impersonations. After 6 years of grinding there was a competition on Prime Time TV and I was chosen amongst many hundreds of Madonnas to be the best. And I was on prime time Telly and cover of magazines. I made it. Kind of. Except nobody knew who I am. Nor cared. I was recognized only one time off the program. By the ticket master at Kings Cross train station.
I travelled the world as Madonna. I also had my own entertainment agency. What was cool about that was the instant fame. I could be as big and bright and confidently dominating on stage as I wanted and it was applauded. Because that’s what Madge does. Thank you Madonna. I was just being me in your costume. That’s when they loved it most. Interesting. I enjoyed the drivers and bodyguards and my PA in Mexico. I even bought her a fancy purse like Carrie in sex in the city did for hers.
I left my own music behind. I heard a few times it wasn’t special. From industry experts. Nothing special. I put my heart and soul into it, some songs are direct downloads from spirit. Nothing special. Though my songs have influenced and changed people’s lives. I have singing students from way back who got in touch with me years later telling me how my songs have helped them through their teenage years. I was one of these singing teachers the shy kid went to and came out transformed taking on the lead role at the holiday…
One of them who took their students ideas and turned it into songs we recorded and performed and everyone got a CD. I made my students write their music and hear it.
That’s what a failed star can do.
I left comedy behind. I didn’t like not winning at the competitions and how hard it is to write a punch line every 20seconds. And more, I hate repeating the same set over and over again. And that’s what you got to do until they know you and trust you to try more. But I did what I wanted and tried and explored and improvised and had a growing and daring experience for 4 years I tell you the real problem I saw with comedy. And music. To really work it, you got to work it. And that means gritty gigs around the country. Shitty hotels, on the road, on stage in the evenings. It’s so unglamorous and lonely it hurts. Especially if you are a home bird who likes her beauty sleep, dreams of a family and is not into alcohol and staying up late. I look at what life I want, too. And this wasn’t it.
I noticed that the life I would be creating even in the best case scenario was not what I was looking for.
I had the same with my dream of being on the west end. Unless you are the lead and a star, you will not make much money. And once the job is over you are back to square one. And once you’re over 27 youre really old. And back to teaching singing and dancing you go?
I expected more from being at the top of my game. Is this just me resenting the high hanging fruit? Maybe, but not really. Yes I would have liked to do some west end work. I would have liked it to come easier. I stood a fair few times in queues of 6 hours getting up at 430am to sing for 30seconds and hope for a call back. Which I got and then got chucked out as I wasn’t as good at picking up choreographies as the full dancers. See you later. They don’t care if you can learn it in 10mins. You had 3.
Film. I noticed I was very animated and had to do a lot of toning down of that which really gives me joy-that plus the accent and the inaccessibility of agents and even when you had one they did nothing, was so frustrating. Acting is a career where the least thing you get to do is to act. You end up applying and sending costly promotion materials of yourself and taking unpaid work hoping someone will see you one day most of the time. Maybe I was too proud but at some point I had it. I feel my life is too precious than to try my hand at things with no return and get frustrated with people that don’t work at the high level I love. Finding the right teams and collaborators takes so much time and energy. How do people do it? Well, most meet in courses and schools. Training programs I thought I couldn’t afford. They felt too high risk for me. Maybe I should have gone all out. I will never know.
But you see I had been at a University for performing art and they kicked me out for being me. They said I wasn’t the type.
I have a hidden fear of showing my full self because it will reveal that I wasn’t what you were looking for after all. I can adapt so well and mimic so I like being in control of what you see of me. I felt so powerless having the biggest decision made for me without my input. Not to obtain my degree was really not my choosing. And I had auditioned for this more than I met anyone else- 27 times. 3 years.
I’m a looser. I have lost a lot.
What if that was all part of it? What if your smashed dreams were the nurturing ground for the life you really want to create?
I have won a lot too. I did get in. I did stand out. I am different. I have talent. I dare to be vulnerable. I change lives!
Because I looked at what I actually wanted in life, I could focus on that- I have created my work in the world. Many people live to one day do THAT. They stay following other people’s work. I have done my own form the tender age of 19. And was celebrated with standing ovations and harsh criticism.
I feel entitled to more. There is a Diva inside of me that wants all the success served on a silver platter. There is also a very human person who just wants to get positive feedback and wordly rewards for her efforts. Don’t you?
I feel blessed to be able to do what I am doing as I had physical challenges that didn’t let me. My voice was dysfunctional. My body got tired and exhausted. My ankles were so painful the doctors sent the crutches home with me at the end of the treatment saying they would be a regular feature for me. They are not. I have healed my body, my voice…and done my thing despite of…
I have been in my relationship for 11 years and I have 2 children. Both would not be alive if it wasn’t for our health service and my dedicated care. Night and day. My son still needs care at night which we get help with now. He is the first survivor of having lost his entire small intestine at birth. He’s fed intravenously over night which has implications. My daughter had to be fed through a tube every 3 hours and given meds 10x a day for the first months of her life. She had 4 heart defects. She’s fine now.
I am a failed star. And that’s more than good enough.
Except for my Ego. But guess what for your Ego, nothing is EVER good enough!!
I love to shine. I love to help other people shine. If you ask me if I want wordly success or following my heart, I’d say both please.
But if it was one or the other, the heart will always win with me. Because I’d rather be a failed star than a lost soul.
And to be honest sometimes I get to feel both.
And That’s life.