I was talking with my wife recently about friendships as she was planning a birthday party for me.
We were making a list of friends to invite. We discovered something interesting about living in Los Angeles, being an actor, and how it affects the quality and issues of friendship. Much advice in this blog is about the craft of acting, but also important is sustaining the life of being an actor and striving in LA. I’d like to talk about that today.
Many people come to LA to start over, start a new beginning, leave what’s behind and relocate here and pursue their dreams. In many cases, it involves literally changing their identity, self-image, and social circles that they either want to pursue or let go of. Some people don’t even tell their family, relatives, and lifetime friends that they are pursuing acting. They want to wait until they are more confident or even “make it”.
I thought I’d take a look at look at friendships and what actors (and all people for that matter) should strive for to have a rich life.
I broke them down into 4 categories:
- The Unconditional Friend – We all need someone like this. Someone that we can call at 2 AM in the morning in a crisis. They don’t judge us, we can cry, vent, and fully express ourselves. They are there, unconditionally loving us.
- Friends with Common Interests – These are playmates, people you like to do things with, go out to dinner, dancing, parties, hiking, sports, concerts, movies, church, etc. Things you do and things you like to do. Some of these are acquaintances, some are good friends. These might change as your interests change.
- Work Friends – People you work with. It’s great to have people that you work with that you can be with, whether it’s commiserating together about a job you don’t like or a fervent and connected conversation with someone that shares the same passion about your work that you do. Also, these people become your network as you pursue your new goals and lifestyle.
- Neighbors – It’s a good feeling to feel and be a part of your community, so neighbors can be a great way to help you feel safe, and connected to your home. It’s nice to see a neighbor, to say hello to or chat with, as you come and go, and perhaps get each other’s mail, house-sit, feed the pets, and keep an eye on each other’s place.
- Long-Term Friends – These are people who you have a long history with. They know your story and they know your personal narrative. This might be a person you just have a phone relationship with. It’s someone you’ve known a long time, and you have a history with. You might have shared dreams together years ago, so when you’re considering a big change, they have a reference and might be able to help you keep in touch with your values. This might be an old schoolmate or someone you grew up with.
There’s an old saying that friendships are there for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
Of course, some friends can fill several of these roles, but having friends with these qualities can help create a full life, and in times of struggle, loneliness, crisis, and celebration, help take away the existential loneliness that the collective consciousness of humanity shares.
I share this for the LA actor, especially for those newcomers because we need friends to lean on. It builds community, makes connections. You might notice I haven’t mentioned anything about social media friends, I think the jury is still out on the long-term effects of this. I think personal, interpersonal connection is vital for a happy and successful life.
So, being the acting teacher, and as this is an acting blog, I’ll move to a comment about acting and preparation. So many roles are with and about friends. How specific are you in doing the personal and emotional preparation when playing a friend? Or being a friend?
Consider the “types” of friends that I pointed out here. Choosing one of those types can affect the color, temperature, and nuance of your character. It might add and make them more intricate, specific, and unique.
The more specific in your work, the more the layers in your character work.
Till next time, your friend, Fran.