Why do you want to act?
Have you ever stopped to think why you want to act? I can’t really say that there are right and wrong reasons for pursuing a career in acting, but the question is worth pondering. In particular, if you really want to do something in one of the more difficult professions to get a job.
Some people are drawn to this profession because they are hungry for fame and fortune. The glamor they are exposed to in a variety of tabloids promises a life full of intrigue and excitement. Television shows celebrate the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”including opportunities that come in the form of fashion, travel, and the chance to meet and rub shoulders with business VIPs. All these temptations attract many people to the business, but the desire to get all the material offers may not be enough to keep their interest.
Acting is hard work. Good actors work constantly at their craft. Start by developing solid technique and sticking with it for the long term. The learning process is endless. There is always something new to learn and the people who are consumed with their art always seek to improve.
For most beginning actors, it is difficult to find work. Many of the actors he has seen on stage, on television, and in film, struggled before they could get a steady job. The time between paid jobs varies, but in some cases years can pass between jobs. Even those at the top of the profession have experienced prolonged bouts of unemployment. If you think I’m exaggerating please see “That guy … That was in that thing.”, the fabulous documentary in which 15 character actors discuss the challenges of finding a steady job and maintaining an acting career.
As you hit the pavement looking for work, you must find a job that gives you the flexibility that allows you to audition and work at your craft. A full time job is not an asset. It is an impediment to flexibility. That means you will need to find a part-time survival job that meets the demands of the actor’s lifestyle. When you get a job (regional theater, for example) you will have to make travel arrangements, sublet your apartment and secure a home in the city where you will work. Once the play is done (unless you have a job where you can go back and forth from one acting job to another), you will go back to looking for a survival job.
You will also need to find a place in Manhattan or very close to it. You’ll need a lot of energy to study, work, audition, network, and travel. Long trips to and from the city are exhausting. When opportunity knocks, you want to be able to open the door. Strenuous commutes will put you at a disadvantage.
The rents are higher than ever. I don’t envy young actors who are faced with the task of finding affordable housing these days, but “Where there is a will, there is a way.” It may take partnering with 2 or 3 roommates to pay for today’s rents, but that’s part of the journey and you’ll have to do whatever it takes to stay afloat.
Your first few concerts may not live up to your highest expectations, but that is included in the fee payment category. Your journey doesn’t have to be a painful and exhausting struggle. You can shorten the journey by learning your trade well to make a positive impression on casting directors and agents when the opportunity presents itself.
It will take a little time to find a quality representation. You can’t wait to be discovered. You should always be looking for work. That requires you to work on some aspect of your profession every day. You will need to learn about the business purpose of the acting profession. There’s a reason it’s called show business.
As you can see, there are many aspects to establishing yourself in the acting profession. Even the most successful actors must be more than just a little gypsy. Stability is not easy to achieve, frustrations increase at times, and rejection is part of the business. Surrounding yourself with positive people is essential. Negative forces are another waste of energy, so you’ll want to spend time developing a network of supportive and understanding people. Everything is part of the process.
If you feel discouraged by what I have written, that is not my intention. My sole purpose in writing this article is to shed light on the realities of the business. If after reading this you are still eager to continue, then I would dare to guess that this path is the right one for you. Be okay, be positive, and stay strong. Bon Voyage!