This week I had the opportunity to speak with a young woman named Bligh Voth. Not only is she living her dreams of being a successful New York actress, but she's also creative as hell and the creator of a podcast entitled "Avocados Are For Rich People." I stumbled upon her podcast one day and was immediately hooked. I sat down with Bligh (aka we both sat in our apartments in different cities on our phones), and discussed her progression into making artistry her full time job. Welcome to my new series: Living Creative: People Who Live on Ideas Alone.
Bligh moved to New York from Washington D.C., after having a string of theatre gigs that kept her busy in our fine country's capital. It seems that things were going well for her. But like most (all) actors, there can (will) be large gaps where jobs aren't lined up, and you're stuck with the question of: well what the fuck now? So instead of waiting around for jobs to find her, she made her own. 2 ½ years ago, Bligh started a blog that she titled "Avocados Are For Rich People." As we both agreed, the blog is in a Girls type voice, but without any of the pretention or depression (which I very much appreciate).
I think artistry cleverly mirrors everyday life, and that's why it never goes away. Our equilibrium strives to maintain a balance between certainty and uncertainty, and we spend our whole lives trying to live in the middle. Life should always be filled with equal parts of "I know what I'm doing" and "What the hell is going on?" Artistry shares this necessary balance. And that is the exact mentality I see Bligh embracing.
When it comes to the life of an actor, there isn't a whole lot of control you have over getting jobs from auditions. You either fit the part, or you don't. More often than not, you don't get it. And there's little to no control you have over a casting director's perception of you. But, with the progression of social media, the Internet has provided leeway for the modern ability to self-produce. It's provided countless opportunities to people daring enough to showcase their work for the Internet world. It's a bold and noble move that has helped close the exposure gap, and I can think of so many people who have benefited from this wave. Bligh being one of them.
As she said when we spoke, Bligh never wanted to let the world of auditioning and failing to be the one thing that dictated her expression as an artist. So she started the blog to steer her creativity in a different direction. Yes, it wasn't stage or theatre work that she strove for as a main career, but this alternative "performance" medium gave way to her unique and fucking HYSTERICAL voice. And after exposing the Internet world to this voice, a producer picked it up, and she's currently cranking out episodes of her advertised and endorsed podcast. (It's amazing and you should all listen to it. Link at the bottom.)
An important trait about the highs and lows of artistry that we discussed is the idea of embracing the lack. I've quoted this talk in a previous article because I find it so goddamn relevant. Tracy Letts, a big influence to modern American theatre, shares that one of the most important things you can do as an artist is to not do anything. When you do nothing (and literally nothing), you'll stop worrying about your problems and your failures, and your mind will start to wander and fantasize. By sometimes doing nothing, we give our minds room for new ideas. In an in-between period where she felt like she didn't have control over her performance life, Bligh embraced the lack of certainty and filled the void with a new talent that she didn't know existed. And with patience and persistence, this has worked out in her favor. (My favorite thing that she said was her response to the question all our random-ass relatives ask when you gather for that one holiday out of the year: "So what are you up to?" Bligh has so much going on that she responds with: "Trying to have a baby!" She said it shuts them right up, and I love it.)
In comparing her first to now fifth year of living in New York, Bligh looks back and laughs at the early stages of collecting unemployment and living under the stress of running back and forth between auditions, survival jobs, theatre gigs, and more survival jobs. And now that she has more room to breath, a beautiful new medium has been born, and it's only going up from here.
I honor and salute the men and women of the arts worlds who stick by their work and don't settle when the bank account is low. Because there's enough money in the world. There will never be enough art or ideas. (However, I'd love some more money.)
Thanks to Bligh Voth, writer and creator of Avocados Are For Rich People. You can subscribe to her podcast on iTunes or go to the link on her website: http://www.blighvoth.com/avocadosareforrichpeople