DO THE WORK
By Joel Lambert
I've been starting to have some successes in the last few years...after being in LA six years, it's all starting to come together. I have my own international show on Discovery Channel that's rating very well and we're just about to go into the second season, among other things, like a part in Clint Eastwood's new film starring Bradley Cooper...but let me back up a minute.
A couple of years ago, around April of 2012, one of my friends and fellow VFT'er, Greg Bishop, posted on the VFT Facebook page about a TV show a friend of his was trying to cast. As I recall, he was looking for a former Special Operations-type with a strong background in survival, evasion, resistance, and escape training. Being that I fit the bill, and I was curious, I followed up on it.
I didn't expect much, to be honest, but the guy creating the show was a former Green Beret, Army Special Forces, so that lent some credence to his creation. After a few phone calls, and a webcam chat, he invited me out to the Palm Desert to shoot some tape of me running around. I still didn't take the show seriously, but he was going to pay me $300 and put me up in a Palm Springs hotel for the weekend, and I love the desert, so "yeah", I said, I'd do it. Anything to get out of LA.
After arriving at my hotel, and expecting the guy, his buddy, and a camera, and instead finding a full crew, the VP of Discovery International, former SAS commando tech advisors, and other talent up for the job, from Marines to Victoria Cross-winning SAS operators, it kinda hit home that this was legit.
Did I know the most, was I the best operator of the bunch? I know I'm no slouch, but I honestly I don't know. What I DO know is that I was the most prepared for this. I had Done The Work, from what I brought from my years in the SEAL teams, of course, but more importantly, my training as an actor, in front of the camera. Over the last few years, I had learned how to be genuine, how to feel, and how to just BE. Once you stop trying, you can BE. That's what I did. I breathed into myself, I trusted myself, and I allowed the camera to see all of me.
That was the beginning. We shot a pilot, then the series all over the globe. Places like Poland, South Africa, the jungles of the Philippines and Panama to the cities of South Korea, it has been a truly wild ride. Having to straddle true escape & evasion with talking to the camera and dragging around non-operators with me has been a very steep learning curve. In fact, that's been the most difficult thing. The near-death experiences, the hunger, the dehydration, and the injuries and infections haven't been as trying as learning how to be an engaging host while still being an effective operator...oh, and keeping my camera guys from giving me away.
After the season was in the can, that wasn't the end of the work. There were days of ADR (voiceover work), and once the episodes were finished, more press all over the world than I care to remember.
But what a ride.
And what amazing people. From my producers and crew, without which this NEVER would have happened, to the PR folks at Discovery and members of the press all over the globe.
And ready to do it again!
I haven't had much of a chance to sit and reflect on the experience yet, it's been moving so quickly...but over the course of classes, auditions, student films, parties, workshops, extra work, co-star parts, guest-star parts, and now my own international series, I've made a few observations about what I think it takes to make a career and more importantly, a life in this business, and I wanna share them with all of you.
DO THE WORK
I'm no stranger to hard work...after ten years in the military, especially in the SEAL teams, hard work is not even "hard" anymore, it just IS. All of us, coming from military backgrounds are used to this. We know hard work. The problem is that civilian life is conducive to getting sloppy...to letting the self-discipline slide, and Hollywood, being the place of deams...well, sometimes "dreams", and dreaming about your dream, can replace waking up every day and consciously moving yourself towards that goal. With no-one to push you, or to make you attend classes, or read plays, or write screenplays, it's very easy to just watch TV and call it "research".
IT'S ABOUT GIVING
I see so many people in Hollywood, as I'm sure you do as well, that are completely, totally, 100% focused on themselves. This is a narcissistic business, and it draws people who are seeking validation from outside themselves. Stop it.
Validate yourself. Everything you will ever possibly need in life is within you already. What the world needs is for you to GIVE THIS AWAY. The camera takes, it doesn't give. It's there to recieve from you, and it sees EVERYTHING. There is nothing that it misses, there is no way to fool it. When you go in the room to audition....give. Give it all, and then walk out and leave it there, right where it fell. Your work is done, move on.
BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
Hollywood is desireable, people clamor for her, reach for her, sell their souls for her...and she knows this.
I see so many people come here and try to fit in, to be what they think Hollywood wants from them. It's ridiculous. Be YOU. Be GENUINE. What is great acting? It's truth under imaginary circumstances, and the same can be said for great writing, directing, etc. So seek your truth. Find your deepest, most raw, vulnerable truth and expose it. The more specific your truth is, the more universal it will be.
I was very lucky to work with an acting coach who understands this (Susan Giosa, she offers a vet discount these days), and took me on a painful, uncomfortable journey to the core of my being, and it not only was great for my acting, but it was great for my life. Even though my Discovery show isn't "acting", the training I had with her is what got me my show. I have no doubt about this.
Find a mentor that won't tell you what you want to hear, but will push you past your comfort zone.
Oh, one other thing: "Networking" works best when you make and keep friends and be one in return. It's easy to lose focus and just look at it from the "what can you do for me" angle. Nobody likes that. Everyone, however, wants to work with their friends.
I just got an offer to do a small part in Clint Eastwood's new movie AMERICAN SNIPER. It might have actually come from the VFT website, I know they browsed profiles while casting.
Am I stoked? You'd better believe it.
Sure, it's not a huge part, I'll be working on weekly scale and only have a Honey Wagon, but it's CLINT EASTWOOD. Not to mention it's a movie about my Frog Brother Chris Kyle, and it's an honor to be a part of that.
Alright, I'm out. I've got stuff to take care of and a dog that needs some lovin'. Glad to have a group of vets to hang with here on this journey. Thanks.
Originally from the Pacific Northwest and raised in a small logging town on the Columbia River, Joel Lambert grew up performing on stage and in commercials before selling all he had and running off to join the armed forces, where he served as a Navy SEAL for ten years, earning distinction and experiencing combat in places like Kosovo and Afghanistan. Returning home decorated and serving as a lead Instructor at BUD/S, the screening and selection school for men aspiring to join the elite Navy SEALs, he was drawn back into the world of film and television. Now starring in his own international TV show on Discovery Channel, LONE TARGET, he continues to appear in scripted television and films as his schedule permits.