The Critical First Test.
Do you need to act?
So there I was sitting in a folding chair ready to take notes from a well-known professional acting coach. I was anxious to hear the ‘secret’ to the acting business in Atlanta. She began, “Don’t be an actor unless you need to.” This was the advice given to her by one of her her acting teachers. “She” was Lisina Stoneburner, Co-executive Director of the The Company Acting Studio in Atlanta, Georgia. The lesson Lisina was trying to get across to this small, ragtag group of aspiring actors is that this business of acting is rough. It takes commitment, sacrifice, persistence, ongoing training, talent, risk, honesty, and yes, investment in yourself to even have a chance at acting on the professional level. On top of that, this business of acting is brutal, unforgiving, at times rude, dismissive, unfair, fickle, and downright inconsiderate. So when Lisina told us this nugget of wisdom she gleaned from her acting coach, here’s what she meant: You had better have such a deep, soulful yearning to act that if you don’t act, you’ll be missing one of the primary purposes of your life. Bottom line, it requires that kind of commitment.
So, if you are a parent wanting your child to be the next Shirley Temple or Macaulay Culkin, or if you “would just love to be famous” – do us all a favor and stay home. The child (not Mom/Dad) or you, the actor, have to want this with every fiber of your being. If you don’t, you will almost always fail and fail painfully having wasted money, time, effort, and frustration. I don’t say this to scare you (well, kind of). I say it to let you know that you will need tough skin grown from your own deep need to act to survive the crap that you will have to wade through (from your own areas of weakness to casting directors who don’t care if you can’t pay your bills). Remember, this is a business and the people in this business are there to make money, not make you feel good.
Remember the film The Shawshank Redemption? The lead character, Andy, played by Tim Robbins, broke out of prison by crawling through the sewage pipes of the prison- the SEWAGE pipes…of the PRISON. Navigating a professional acting career, from an emotional standpoint, is not unlike Andy’s journey. But if you have the desire, courage, comittment, and talent, it can be a wonderful journey that is worth it…and you’ve passed the first test.
So, the question remains, “How to I begin a professional acting career?”
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