I am contemplating moving to Vancouver, British Columbia. It was originally Los Angeles, California, but the thought of giving up Canadian residency and moving four young children to the United States scares the hell out of me.

If I was single, it would have happened years ago. But then I have to ask, was I ready years ago? Most people head to L.A when they are young and hungry to make it in Hollywood. Not too many forty-something women decide it’s time to start establishing herself as an actor/writer. In fact, if a young actress hasn’t gotten somewhere in her career by forty, she tends to give up around now and when it comes to a family, well, the “normal” mother would have given up her dream a long time ago.

However, there is one thing that keeps me up at night: a vision of me, on my deathbed thinking about all the things I always wanted to try. Some may say there is nothing worse than failing, nothing in the world other than one thing: the regret of never trying. That’s one thing that improv makes you good at: failing. When you have a scene that goes south or you’re hearing nothing but crickets from the crowd, it is heartbreaking, but you also discover that the rest of your set is really great and when people come up to you after, they never talk about the scene that tanked, they talk about their favourite parts.

You realize the only person focused on your “failures” is YOU. When you experience failing and see that people still like you, that you don’t explode, taking the hits is that much easier and doesn’t bother you as much. Not trying…well, that will haunt you all your life. Another great thing about improvising is that in some cases the audience WANTS to see you fail. There are guessing games that the crowd wants to see struggle; what’s the point if the improviser walks on stage and knows exactly what is going on?

We are strange animals, who slow down to look at traffic accidents and we watch reality TV so we can say, “Thank god I’m not those people!” An audience wants to see failure on stage, it connects you to them, you become endearing because they’ve experienced what you are going through and then they start rooting for you!

Acting and improv are in my blood now, I could never give up on that dream because I can truly say it’s what I want to do when I grow up. When I bounced around in the corporate world, and in a variety of jobs (some really fun and exciting), I always found myself eventually bored and wanting to move onto something else. My mother was the one that asked when I felt truly happy and I said, “Easy, when I’m performing” and she replied, “Well then, do that.” I laughed, “Mom, have you ever heard the term Starving Artist?” and she said those magic words: “Do what you love and the money will come. Following this advice has never let me down.”

Now, facing the fear of moving across Canada, and eventually making the trek further south is just another heart pounding moment, like the first time I stepped onto a stage to perform improv thinking, “What is going to happen? What am I going to say and do? What if I fail?”

Just do what you love and the people around you will focus on everything you contributed, and, more than likely, they will applaud and root for you the whole way.

About the Author

Stephanie Herrera is a comedian, writer, producer, teacher, singer, actor, mother of 4, and shallow philosopher. She runs the Durham Improv & Acting Studio in Oshawa, Canada, is a professor at Durham and Fleming Colleges, and is an award winning performer.  www.durhamimprov.com / www.stephanieherrera.com / info@durhamimprov.com / (647) 899-3342  Durham Improv Group and Business pages can be found on Facebook and follow @durhamimprov & @antimommy