Life isn’t meant to be easy, and in many ways, life is suffering. According to Anurag Prakash Ray, “Hard times are blessings in disguise. We do have to suffer, but in the end, it makes us strong, better and wise” As many people know, pursuing a career in any art is a tall order, and many artists have been advised by family and friends not to do so. For talented, working actor, Blake Webb, this has certainly been the case.
Webb’s impressive resume includes tv shows such as: Criminal Minds, American Horror Story, 13 Reasons Why, Good Trouble, NCIS, and more. He’s costarred with several well-known actors, including Alison Brie, Frankie Muniz, Lizzy Kaplan, Carl Weathers, Wes Bentley, and Josh Holloway, to name a few. And, although his accomplishments after starting to act at age 30 may sound impressive, it has come at a cost and required a steep learning curve in mental health.
Webb was raised in Arizona in the Mormon (LDS) religion as part of a traditional conversative family. He always felt a need to get straight A’s and overachieve in every other way possible. His parents wanted what was best for him, and Webb grew up thinking that if he followed the rubric laid out, happiness and peace would come. At age 19, he went on a 2-year service mission to Tamaulipas, a state in Mexico that is now known as one of the most dangerous, due to the drug war. He spent two years outside of the norm, where missionaries cannot date, phone/text home, play video games, earn money, and have very little free time to themselves. Missionaries have strict schedules, where they knock doors and teach lessons of their religion for two years and live economically as if they were locals in their assigned region. In Mexico, Webb learned fluent Spanish and developed a love for the culture, food and people.
Upon returning from his two-year mission, Webb completed his bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management at BYU. Even though he had always wanted to be an actor, his dad and close friends thought that a degree in film or acting would have little realistic value, and Webb wanted to do what was right. He graduated and began working in marketing and graphic design but quickly realized that spending 8-9 hours a day behind a computer screen in an office did not feel fulfilling, and he began to feel as though he was wasting his years away. He also realized that he was pushing 30, and that the dream of a career, such as acting, was slowly dissipating.
Upon much deliberation, at age 28 Webb finally joined an acting class in Salt Lake City, UT. After successfully testing the acting waters in this small market, Webb moved to the mecca that is Los Angeles at the age of 30, an age far beyond that which is considered ideal for an actor. Although praised for his acting skills, often by casting directors, coaches and peers, Webb still had an uphill battle. He found himself working full-time in marketing for a beauty company while spending the rest of his time attending workshops, auditions, acting classes and other networking events. There was little balance to his life, as Webb put it, “I would come home from work, which was a professional job with expectations, and go immediately to whatever acting opportunity I had, often changing outfits in my car and driving as fast as LA traffic permitted, from this to that. I felt behind, like I had to catch up in a race to book more television parts as quickly as humanly possible. I did my best to ignore the noise and avoid thinking about the numerical odds.”
Webb soon realized that he had little control over anything, aside from being prepared for his auditions, which was never a problem. Good booking years would be followed by a bad year, then another good year… it was up and down, “when it rains it pours.” After normally having control over his success in life, the random and unfair nature of the acting industry confused Webb. “I always thought that if I just outworked everyone, things would simply fall into place. I began booking, but I didn’t feel like I was booking what I wanted to book. I began overanalyzing everything from my auditions to my look. I found myself staring in the mirror too long, at my headshots too often, and my auditions too many times. I became obsessed with inventing my own ideas as to why I didn’t book a part.”
Even after having a great booking year in 2017, that included Criminal Minds, NCIS, and starring in a movie with Frankie Muniz, the lack of balance in life began to deflate Webb’s spirit. The overthinking and comparing himself to others got the best of him, and slowly he lost all confidence and joy in life. Not to mention, one of Webb’s close family members had just been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which contributed greatly to Webb’s worries. “I would wake up sad; I stopped caring about the hours wasted; my eating dropped to one meal a day; I flat out stopped going to the gym. The only things I continued to do were acting class and auditions. I wasn’t social or remotely happy, and friends began to take notice and became worried for me. My days felt meaningless as I searched for the reasons why I wasn’t having more perceived success. As sad as it sounds, I simply did not enjoy living in 2018; I had neither joy nor peace.”
Webb’s dad had been trying to help in any way he could, but religion and other suggestions just weren’t cutting it anymore. Depressed at age 34, Webb found himself desperate for a solution. Webb had an actress friend from class who mentioned she went to therapy on several occasions. Having never done therapy, it took a lot out of Webb to ask her for a referral, but, thankfully, he did. “I was fortunate to have a friend who had the right therapist for me. I’ve now realized that many people start therapy and quit too soon, or never start, because they hardly have the drive to find a good therapist who accepts their insurance, assuming they even have insurance. It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially when you’re down and without energy to do anything.”
Fortunately for Webb, this therapist did accept his insurance, and she was a great fit. Through consistent weekly conversation, Webb slowly became aware of his behaviors, tendencies, thought-patterns, habits, and negative thinking. After becoming aware, he slowly began to find solutions and ways to avoid triggers, along with ways of replacing bad habits and thinking with good ones. “Therapy isn’t an instant fix; it’s a slow process that needs to become consistent, but with time, it has greatly improved my life and maybe even saved it. I’ve learned that good habits, regular fitness, and biweekly therapy do for my mental health what regular brushing and flossing do for my dental health; it’s just something imperative for me.”
5 years later, Webb now peacefully resides in Mexico City, where he splits time as a working actor with Los Angeles. He’s found an environment that provides him with peace, which has enabled him to improve his habits and find even more success in booking roles… having recently worked with Michael Peña (Narcos, Antman) and Tenoch Huerta (Black Panther 2), along with booking four national U.S. commercials. As Webb puts it, “Aside from acting ability, I’ve now found that booking roles has a lot to do with my energy and the version of myself I present to others. I like my current version and hope to only improve from here. I’m no longer sinking; I’m now soaring, and I can attribute 100% of my improvement to consistent therapy sessions.”
Webb has become an advocate for therapy and knows that while some resist the idea, there are many out there like him who are simply seeking a solution for their despair. Webb’s message for them: “Don’t overthink it. Just do yourself a favor, and google therapists in your area, and then make the call. Life brings suffering, but I choose to suffer less and in my own way. Working out and good habits are work, but they make me so much happier and bring me peace. They improve my mood, which allows me to be a better me. The glass is half-full again, and I can say that while life isn’t perfect, I truly enjoy living again.”
Written in Partnership with Amir Bakian
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