Guest Star on TV Without An Audition – Seizing Opportunity or Fate?

I’m not big on magical thinking but last year confirmed that although it doesn’t always make sense there is some strange, twisted and mystical version of fate at work in the universe.

[Note: Actor Patrick Pitu steps-in this week as Paul Russell’s guest as Patrick shares how actors must always be vigilant for unexpected opportunity.]

Patrick Pitu, Guest Blogger
Patrick Pitu, Guest Blogger

New York City and actors could easily be compared to being in an abusive relationship; my experience has been no different. Every short-coming has been a violent blow, and after each one it was as if I turned a fresh cheek and screamed, “Hit me again Life, and this time put your rings on!”

A year ago, due to insurmountable circumstances including nasty slumlords, I lost my apartment. With one week to find a roof over my head I lost everything that meant home and stability. I even lost the girl I’d been dating.

Left in the wake of apartment hunting/back-to-school season—and determined to stay in New York—I stacked my belongings in a Long Island City storage unit, began jumping from couch to couch, and walked for miles every day in search of new digs.

I hit Craigslist hard; posted on every message board; went to every broker; and asked friends…all with very little return. Not only were few apartments available but the ones that were demanded extravagant rent, prohibited male roommates, offered asylum to teems of illegal immigrants, or had a severe pest problem. I was accepted to one apartment only to receive a phone call from my roommate-to-be informing his humble abode was bed bug infested. This call came en-route to my moving in; after one bus, two trains, and several miles of dragging my heavy luggage through the virulent summer heat. Man, Life was really turning into Chris Brown!

I spent two interminable months without a home. Desperate around the second month I instilled a backup plan. I called my father in Boston asking to borrow his minivan so I could sleep in its back until a real home was found. With every ridiculous blow life dealt me, I was ready to make a ridiculous sacrifice. After collapsing into a paralyzed quivering heap of actor which hospitalized me for exhaustion, I hit the streets again. Within these months work came like a pat on the back urging I keep going. I landed a commercial with actress Veronica Dang who, without knowing me from a hole-in-the-wall, invited me to stay at her East Village apartment for a week. Running out of sofas and not wanting to overstay my welcome I gladly accepted.

The girl who dumped my homeless ass a couple of weeks before worked in the Village. I foolishly decided to visit her office and see if I could patch things up. Within a block of my destination I overheard a man asking two women, “Hey, do you want to win a thousand dollars on MTV’s Money from Strangers?” The women ignored him—their noses to the sky. I stood momentarily in a stupor. This was a flaming goalpost of opportunity. I approached the man and accepted what the snooty girls wouldn’t. He introduced himself as comedian Jeff Dye from MTV’s newest prank show Money from Strangers. Before I knew it I was placed in a van, wired for sound and hidden cameras. I had walked into a guest star position on television.

I’m not big on magical thinking but last year confirmed that although it doesn’t always make sense there is some strange, twisted and mystical version of fate at work in the universe. And if you sacrifice for your passions throwing yourself whole-heartedly at your goals you’re bound to hit one or two.

During any difficult period as an actor, you get advice from everyone: People told me to go back home, to get a “real job”. I didn’t want another job. Acting was my home. It was, and is, where I live; where I put my feet up and feel like I belong. The people who tell you to stray don’t know any better. They don’t know what it’s like to be an artist, to fit into a small, shaded corner of society that no one distinctly understands. While it is important to question yourself, you should find enough validation early on, and move forward.

More importantly, ask yourself how much you’re willing to sacrifice. I learned that even the most negative AMIYB_Fall_2013set-backs in life can become your road map to success. There are no brilliant and effulgent stars without the deep, endless black of the nighttime sky. However hollow the void, it is the connective tissue of light. Thank them both for their contribution. Make friends wherever you go, and if you’re hard-headed enough to sleep in the back of a beat-up Chrysler, I think you’ll get to where you’re going.

Patrick Pitu is a Boston-born actor who can currently be seen on MTV’s Money from Strangers and featured in next summer’s The Equalizer with Denzel Washington directed by Antoine Fuqua.

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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit

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