Enter Joey [stage left]

By: Joey Franks III

Life is full of challenges. Some of the challenges are good, some are not-so-good- it’s all about perspective. About a year ago I stumbled upon an opportunity to shift my perspective, and lend some of my free time, helping out three of my newest friends in their endeavors creating content for their YouTube channel.I never thought I’d be such a huge contributor to the channel, but here I am, a year later, writing a piece on my experiences and contributions for thirtysomethingdigital.IMG_2792

Let’s rewind to a year before-I had just moved to St. Louis from California and in doing so I had to pack up my love of theatre to dedicate myself to work. When I was finally able to unpack my life and work slowed down, I was able to try to get into the community theatre scene in my new home. After quite a few auditions it seemed that all attempts fell flat and I felt defeated- enter TSD. I started off just offering to volunteer my time helping the guys, for a variety of reasons, none the least was because I desperately needed to do something that gave me a creative outlet. Another reason, and possibly the most fulfilling one, was that I felt welcomed with open arms into this family of friend, even when they didn’t have any real reason to bring me in.

See, for me, I was in a time of transition in my life: I had just ended the only relationship I’d ever known, had just come out of the closet, and was living in a new city where I knew no one. Take any one of those reasons and it would make the most stable of people a confused ball of hurt and loneliness. I honestly felt saved by a group of people that just months earlier had been complete strangers to me, the least I could do was run a camera or strike sets or operate sound for them. Never in a million years did I expect to get out of this experience what I have- three incredible friends and a sense of purpose.

When we get together to shoot our episodes, it’s honestly some of the most exhausting and tiring work I’ve ever done. The days are long and hot, there’s a constant cloud of flour from Jake Bakes and even more spilled ice on Cocktail Moment; however, every time these shoot days come around I’m always pumped and excited to get to work. It’s said that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. While that may be true for some, I believe that if you’re working with the people you love, then that’s when you truly never work a day in your life. I’ve grown so much with the help and guidance from these three and I’ve gotten to witness first hand how much they’ve grown professionally. From the first time I picked up a camera to now, a year later, the change is incredible. These three are dedicated, intelligent, and focused on making TSD the best it can possibly be. And in the midst of all the hard work that the past year has brought, I found what I was truly missing: passion. The passion that they have is what I was missing out on when I found myself out of theatre and it was unbelievably refreshing to get that feeling back.

Part of getting that passion back brought me to an idea to start a podcast. I’ve been working on launching a podcast that centers around Coming Out Stories for the last six months or so. In my personal journey, I was fortunate enough to be able to hear stories from people of all backgrounds, about their process of coming out while also getting a chance to share mine. It then dawned on me that these types of stories aren’t given many platforms to be told, but are so interesting and valuable that there should be more ways to highlight them. I feel strongly that by sharing the coming out stories of all sexual orientations we can highlight that all stories are different, some easier some harder, but all unique and important. Hopefully some day it will help someone having trouble finding their truth, as well as showing others, who may not have to come out, what it’s like; to give insight to a subject they might not understand.

I started my journey with TSD as a sound and camera operator, moved in front of the camera as a guest in Cocktail Moment, and now I’m officially a production assistant who’s working on launching his own podcast with the help of Matt and Tony. TSD has given me a purpose again- something I haven’t felt I’ve had for a while. It’s also given me three of the best friends I could have ever asked for. I feel incredibly privileged to get to work with Matt, Tony, and Jake and I hope you’re all as happy to see all the content we provide for you. It comes from the best group of people I’ve been able to work with: friends.

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