When I first became an actor, I often heard this said: “Writers write, directors direct, and actors talk about acting.”
I was furious, angry, I hated that statement, and I still do. I found it insulting, and degrading to actors. How dare anyone make that claim! I was dedicated. I didn’t even understand that statement, so let’s talk about it. Is your choice to be an actor ego based? Is your soul called to act? Is it a combination of the two? Where do you stand (or better yet, how are you living your life?) in relation to that statement?
Do you love calling yourself an actor?
It can be romantic, poetic even, and a great statement of rebellion. Becoming an actor; it’s a shot against all odds. People love the mysterious, defiant ones, who stray from the march of the crowd and pursue their dreams. Hanging out at coffee shops… talking about Hollywood, your dream, what’s in your way… if only this or that happened… perhaps some short romantic entanglements with scene partners to “help the scene” (that’s the excuse, anyway, but it’s really just to escape loneliness for a moment). “I can’t get involved with anyone because it will interfere with my career; I’m a loner, my art is my true lover … I can’t commit to a relationship with anyone, because I’m committed to my career. Desire me. I am unavailable; hence it makes me more attractive. I love this town – someday, you’ll see what I mean…”
Some people call themselves actors as an excuse to escape reality, to live in another world, rebel against family, upbringing, culture; an opportunity to “buy time” while they figure out what they really want. This is difficult for me to write, as I love actors and am one myself; but as I talk and work with actors, I often see these patterns.
Do you love to act? That is the question I ask any struggling actor, because if you love and are called to act, then you will find a way to do so. Technology today makes it easy. You can create your own material and put it on YouTube for the entire world to see. If you have something to give, or something to say, then nothing can stop you. Today’s actors need to be entrepreneurs, finding, creating, and selling themselves through their performances. Getting “discovered” by someone else is not the only way.
So I ask you this: what are you doing in order to act? Are you in a class, theater company, web series, working on a script, going on auditions, finding quality representation? Are you connecting with other artists, collaborating to make something together for your mutual benefits? Are you active? Or are you just talking about it?
Occasionally at my theater I’ll have an open window of time available, and I’ll make an announcement to our community of artists: “I have four free weekends coming up. If anyone has something or wants to use the space to put up some art, or showcase themselves and their work in any way, let me know. Anything you want to do: a one-act, staged reading, music, poetry, improv, experimental theater, all of the above…”
The responses are often shocking, because this is what I tend to hear: “If you find something for me, I’d love to get involved.” If I find something for you? Are you an artist, or are you waiting for one to tell you what to do? Take an honest look inward, and ask yourself: who are you in this scenario? Because, as I always say: “How you do anything, is how you do everything…”