Sunday, September 20, 2009

Is there an acting profession?

This question came to mind while I was reading the first chapter of 'Acting Professionally' by Cohen, a book I have begun to recommend to all who thing it would be great to become an actor. I was especially struck by his statement that acting is more a boutique career, like being a Senator. In the US Senate there are only 100 jobs and only 1/3 of them are open every two years. Likewise, there are a very limited number of people actually earning a living as an actor. We can usually crowd them all into one auditorium for the Tony or Academy Awards. At least all the stage actors for the former and all the screen actors for the latter, I mean. And among all of those, many will not be earning a living at acting the next year. Now, if acting is in your blood and you just have to be an actor, fine, Cohen and I have written books on how to go about doing that. But you really should not count on earning a living at it. There just isn't enough work. The flooding of the acting market with new actors for whom there are no jobs is the fault of our colleges and universities and professional training conservatories who have found an endless supply of revenue from people who want to become actors. These institutions fail to teach their students that they will most probably not earn a living at acting; and in most cases do not even teach their students how to go about finding employment as an actor! Yes, Virginia, there is an acting profession. But it is a very closed one mostly open just for part time participants. Only one in a million or more aspiriants will actually make a career of acting.
Should you just give up on being an actor? Certainly not if you are extraordinarily talented and willing to dedicate yourself to it. If you are the rare person who is born to act, it will not matter to you if you every make a living at it, as long as you can do it. Contact me if you are this kind of person, I will be happy to help you at no charge.

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