Firstly, let me clarify the definitions of ‘commercial model’ and ‘entertainment industry personality’, since I can understand that they may be somewhat unclear.
My fashion modelling work started in my teens in Melbourne, Australia and as soon as I landed in Hong Kong I was immediately noticed as having a talent for television commercial shooting, which meant that I could move well onscreen. This made my agents very, very happy because TV commercials are a good earner and my compulsive work habits left them grinning from ear to ear on a regular basis. And that’s how I became known in the industry as a good television commercial model or ‘commercial model’.
The point is that all my activities were entertainment industry related, and that’s how I became an entertainment industry person with a quirky personality known in a wider range of fields than just modelling – aka a personality in the entertainment industry or ‘entertainment industry personality’.
One of these was to do with the confusing conflict of emotions that can sometimes accompany achievement and success, which I will attempt to address to some small degree here.
One of the things that Miss B. mentioned to me when she was still settling into Los Angeles life after her first few films was how alone the industry could sometimes make people feel. I’ve had conversations with others who have achieved different levels of celebrity and the tales of losing friends and emotional solitude in the transition is a common one.
Some lucky folks are completely unaffected but others find that the journey can be harrowing, especially if unexpected. We’ve all seen sad stories of actors or actresses who turn to drugs or worse because of loneliness or feelings of isolation. It is a reminder of how powerful these emotions can be, and of our very real need to feel connected with other people, no matter how famous or glamorous a celebrity we may seem or desire to be.
But I know this is not an industry exclusive phenomena, because I have spoken to one or two other people about it as they have travelled along their own upward trajectories in their respective fields. It seems to affect some and not others, so this is not a universal thing. I have noticed that people who experience a sudden rapid rise seem to be in a position to notice it more clearly than those who track a gradual incline over the gap, but again, it can be a different experience for each individual.
It is, I believe, a success phenomena – one that I call the Success Gap.
Subway gaps are about the size that most people around us are comfortable with.
The success gap I’m speaking of is more like an ocean – or in the example I find most visually useful, it’s like the gap between our earth and the moon.
We set our sights on a goal or ambition and start pushing our efforts towards it. We strive, we strain, we relentlessly press onwards. Often it’s frustrating. Often its not ideal. Often it’s just a flat out pain. But we keep going. Sometimes we don’t know why. But there is a need – a pressure and a fire that quietly burns for challenge and adventure and will not let us rest. We keep on fighting. Our friends cheer us on. Other people tell us to keep our chin up when we falter. The struggle is real.
Suddenly it feels like there is a circle around you that people don’t want to enter.
This is when you notice the success gap.
It’s hard, and you’ve made sacrifices and grown apart from friends along the way, but you’ve decided to stick with it.
This decision is the first part of the journey of strength that you will gain from the success gap.
You roar through the atmosphere and leave the world behind. Anything unnecessary falls away from you and burns up in the acceleration as you touch outer space. Suddenly everything is quiet. More quiet than you have ever experienced. It’s deafening. This is the most difficult part of the success gap. This is where people suffer, fail and falter. Drugs, alcohol, numbing agents and loneliness inhabit this space. Your mind will try and trip you up. Doubts will ring in the silence. You’ll experience the illusion of making no progress, even though every excruciating moment here is taking you closer to your goals.
Yet those who are fortunate enough to know what lays on the path ahead brace themselves, face their demons and slay their dragons no matter how their doubts may scream or their solitary discomfort grows. The difference is that the dragon slayers have the precious information that I am giving to you now – that the gap will close, the time will pass, the demons fall silent, and you will finally emerge from the darkness.
The key to that precious information is this – that when you land there will be others like you, whom you will emerge to find. They may not be lining up to meet you – that will come later – but they will be around. You will discover them and this is where they will find you, because they have all had to go through the same path in order to get here. The isolation, the strength, the development of character and acceptance of self. The facing of weaknesses and determination to push on no matter what – to just keep going, because the time will pass. You will arrive.
And when you do, you will suddenly remember why you stared up at the stars in the first place.
We never know where our paths lead – you may end up meeting them again once you both journey through the next gap. And little by little, gap after gap, we will end up finding our clan – working with the people who are truly compatible with our goals and ambitions and traversing multiple success gaps with them over rewarding careers in the future.
But as I agreed with my dear friend Miss B., sometimes in this labyrinth of life some of us are lucky enough to find words or friends that guide and encourage us when we need them most; delivering the information we need to strengthen our knowledge and experience, like a wise AI computer system on our solitary journey – whom we decided to call Space Robot Yoda, of course.
Fabulously eccentric TV host, curvaceous model and founder of Hong Kong ’s first luxury corset brand, Pearls & Arsenic. I love sharing my passion for all things elegant and live with my Dearest Beloved and a fluffy Angora rabbit named Lord Pemberly III, who is a ridiculous snob. Find me on IG @RavenTao or FB : Raven Tao
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