Antonio Cayonne | Actor

Oscar Sunday

Antonio CayonneComment

Its the Oscars today. I am not normally a fan of the oscars, but this year I saw Whiplash, and it re-ignited in me a desire to give a shit about who won simply because after I saw Whiplash I wept for about a half hour. (Okay, more). The performances given in that movie are great, if not perfect examples of why I'm in this. Those changed something in me; triggered something profound. They moved me and I wasn't the same afterwards. 

I woke up today thinking a lot about why I'm here; what I want. I want to work. Sure, I guess that's simple. Work leads to more work leads to a career. But that isn't all. I want to be a role model. I want to make a movie with characters who are honest and flawed and ambitious and struggling, because that's what I am. I want a character who works hard to lift himself out of his own shit, and become something in spite of himself, his surroundings, his upbringing, and the expectations. I want a character that makes young men who didn't win the birth lottery believe that they can come out on top, if they are willing to work. They can do anything. I want to live the proof. I want the chance to be a difference. 

I woke up this morning thinking about fear. Because I'm afraid. 

I'm afraid I'm not enough. I've been told as much and have told it back to myself many times. I'm certain many of us have. I'm afraid of failure. I'm afraid of being wrong, of being corrected. I've been told many times that my inadequacies are a result name it - theatre, training, discipline, ethnicity, ego, desire, loss, privilege, absence.... It's a long list. It's bullshit. And I've listened. I've recited them all back to myself in moments of perceived failure. I'm afraid of looking foolish, or being made a fool; thinking I've been made a fool, being embarrassed, laughed at, ashamed of my own efforts. I'm afraid of being overlooked, ignored, or forgotten. I'm afraid of having my work reduced, diminished, and dismissed. I'm afraid that at the end of all of this, I've been my own obstacle, enemy, and hindrance. I'm afraid that I'm not enough. And it's my own damned fault.

Yet I press on, and I persevere. Not because I am strong due to abnormal resoluteness, but rather precisely because of my weakness. I listen, I watch, I learn, I adapt. I'm a maze of fears and insecurities, deftly navigating my own course of obstacles. 

I work and move forward because my greatest fears are my greatest assets. I fear becoming complacent; settling for something I didn't earn, our don't deserve. Or becoming someone who gives up on wanting to help others; who no longer believes that this can all be better than it is right now. I fear choosing to shrink; to play Small because I feel the world demands that sometimes. I fear choosing to be the less instead of the more. And I don't want to live with that person. I don't want to live with not leaping, with not trying, with not exhausting every avenue. I don't want to be anyone else. I don't want to do anything else. And sometimes I'm afraid of what that means. 

But I'm grateful for this fear. I'm grateful for this perspective. It is healthy. It reminds me that I'm alive. It forces me to focus on my breath, on staying present, and on furthering my own self-awareness. It invites me to examine what is true right now, what is honest, what is fragile, and what is pressing. It beseeches me to keep digging, to unearth that which is terrifying and exhilarating, and present it to the world like an ID tag.

Let it be seen. Let it be known. As Taylor Mali cited in What Teachers Make:
To the biggest bully in the grade, he said,
“Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you? It’s no big deal.”
And that was noblest act of courage I have ever seen.

I woke up thinking about fear, and how in the two auditions I had I kept the bad fear at bay, but channelled the good fear. I woke up thinking how good I have it right now, and how scary that is. I woke up facing my own, simultaneous privilege and lack thereof. I woke up, ready to live each day fully, with excitement, and completely alive. 

I'm afraid I'm not good enough. And I wake up everyday staring that in the face defiantly.

Because I am.

And I alone define my worth.