• Brandon Rumaker

No Longer Trying to Create Alone

I recently audited an acting class at a reputable studio in NYC, having been recommended to the studio by Yuko, founder of I AM Series Global herself. I was intrigued, but also held few expectations.


My last experience with an acting class was in 2014, which ended with this feedback from the teacher, “I think we can both agree you’ll never be an actor.” After that, I spent a few years working on novels until the itching desire to express myself on a stage returned. I’ve done performance art, lip synch numbers, spoken word. But act!?!?!??


I walked into the audit with a vague itch of the bug, not sure if I wanted to take an acting class, but clear it was on my heart to explore. Yuko’s words echoed in my head, It’s more than teaching you how to act. It teaches you how to be human.


Fast forward three hours later. I walked out discouraged, confused, frustrated, humiliated. Wait, what? All I did was watch people run scenes! It must be the intense emotions of the scenes spilling over--me feeling empathy towards these actors’ incredible, raw work.


On my way home, my thought process derailed. I sat on the 3 train in a car alone crying, my mind on a dark beatdown. Why do you want this? You’ll never be as good as the people in that class. You’ll never be willing to be that emotionally vulnerable on a stage. You’re not good enough. You’ll never be good enough.


I wordvomited my experience when I saw Yuko that night: my craving for validation that comes from growing up in a household where validation came too readily or not at all, my relationship to my craft, my insecurities as a performer. Am I going to be 60 years old, playing this same game: I would love to be a career artist but I’m unwilling to put the work in and sacrifice my comforts. She sat and listened. Then she started asking questions.


She asked: When will you take responsibility?

She asked: What about an improv class?

She asked: Have you thought about a one-man show?

Just like that, her outside perspective snapped me back to reality.


I left her room to finish reading the I AM Series blog submissions for June. Lo and behold, Luke and Austin’s pieces were discussing the exact same insecurities, frustrations, and desire to grow that I was. The same balancing act between craft and capital.

I wasn’t alone. There were other artists working through this.


I felt heard. I felt understood. I felt relieved. I felt...human.


I share this because I often feel isolated and alone in my process. It’s easy for me to disconnect from friends, family, and collaborators for extended periods of time. This works for some, but it doesn’t work for me.


Creating is a collaborative process. For me it starts with knowing there’s supposed to be an audience for this work. I collaborate with my inspirations, my history, my favorite artists who I aspire towards, and my team I’m currently working with. Even my critics are working in collaboration with me, helping me see how I’m perceived, and helping me learn to be okay with all sorts of interpretations.


I doubt myself less these days, because I’m not doing it alone.


Thanks to Yuko’s thoughtful questions, I’m a few weeks into an improv class and I’m working on a one man show. I’m even directing her one woman show!


For the rest of August, we’ll be exploring our doubts, whether it’s doubt we are currently facing or doubt we have already overcome. If you have stories about doubt, we’d love to share them!! Please send all inquiries to rumakerb@gmail.com with the subject “I AM Series Blog | Inquiry”


Brandon “Brando” Rumaker is a free-spirited human who embraces all forms of artistic expression with passion! Facilitator of I Am Series Global: Artist Circle & Editor-in-Chief of I Am Series Global: Blog. Send all guest contributor inquires to rumakerb@gmail.com

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