Sunday, June 13, 2010

Why can't I just go audition and start acting?

One of the questions I frequently have to answer is “Why can’t I just go audition and start acting?” There isn’t just one simple answer to this question, but one of the big reasons is that you have to compete with tens of thousands of other actors for every job you want. These multitudes of unemployed actors are the reason why so many people, like teenager’s parents, for example, believe it is impossible to succeed as an actor. Why are there so many unemployed actors and where did they all come from?
Thousands of young teens enchanted by Disney Channel programs and The High School Musical(s) and with no idea of how to become an actor want instant fame and fortune as actors. They are all star-struck and think they are pretty, cute, dainty and talented; but they are not. Older teens with inflated opinions of themselves from a kind word from a friend or relative are similarly doomed. These are the ones who will have the most difficult time becoming actors. They have joined the ranks of the traditional young adults seeking employment as actors who mainly come from colleges and professional acting schools, and whose prospects are not much better. Adults 25 and older actually have the best prospects for a career since casting character actors taps a much smaller pool of talent than that of teens.
Most unemployed actors are graduates or former students of colleges and drama schools who have been told two big lies: 1. They have been told they have been prepared to seek jobs as actors; and, 2. They have been told there are jobs for them. Neither statement is true. If it were, they would all be acting. Many colleges and drama schools do not teach how someone who wants to act can actually get a job as an actor while the colleges offer them a minimum of real acting training. Making it worse is political correctness and the desire of the schools to keep operating and providing a living for their employees; this prevents them from telling their students who have no ability and no chance to make it to hang it up. And there just are not enough jobs to go around. There haven’t been since acting became an academic subject.
Professional theatre and cinema (which includes television) have always had a very limited number of openings for new actors at any given time. The job market is so inundated by people who want to be actors that any opening is soon filled.
Acting is now taught at every level of public and private education. Acting schools and studios have popped up all over the place. And they have begun a cycle of self-support that feeds the lies and floods the ranks of unemployed actors. Many of those who have failed to get work as actors or who found that it was too much work to keep trying to get work as actors now teach those who want to be actors. Many of those who want to be actors graduate from schools and academies in which the former failed actors teach and they repeat the cycle. All those thousands of schools and studios every year are sending out tens of thousands of aspiring actors who wander into the maze of trying to find a job as an actor. They are the cholesterol that clogs the arteries that lead to employment as an actor.
No wonder it is so hard for an actor to get a job! Hard, yes, but impossible, no. There are things that the properly trained and properly advised aspiring actor can do that will put him ahead of the competition. These are the things that I teach at and in my free book, The Tao of Acting. It remains very difficult to become an actor. If you can outlast the other aspirants who will eventually drop out and if you have the proper training, you just might succeed. But I will tell you the real truth, and if you don’t want the hard work or can’t do it, you will do the industry a favor by doing something else.

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