Sunday, April 29, 2012

I Have Always Wanted to Act, But.........

I am constantly troubled by the great number of people who contact me and say that they have always wanted to be an actor or actress but they couldn't (for various reasons) and now that they are older or out of school or whatever they want to be an actor.  Or they say, "I have decided half way through my medical degree (or whatever) that only acting will make me happy." Or they say, "I have never done any acting but people tell me I ought to be on TV." Or nowadays, they are quite liable to say "I can't find any employment, so I decided I want to be an actor."  Well, you are getting the drift of things.

This is troubling because these people obviously think that all one has to do to be an actor is find out who to go see and then show up and say, "Here I am. I am an actor. Put me in the lead of your new film."  Naturally, the business does not operated like McDonald's hiring a new order taker for the drive up window.  To be an actor, one has to have extraordinary looks, charm, personality and talent. In that order, one talent manager says. I would add that they also have to have loads of experience, some professional training (preferably with a noted teacher or school), and knowledge of the acting business and how it works. 

It is a formidable list of requirements for success in the profession.  No one would like to risk his or her life by having their appendix removed by someone who has never done that surgery.  Likewise, no producer is going to jeopardize a multi-million dollar production by hiring an unknown, untrained, untested beginner to start in the film or play.

What, then, is the inexperienced aspiring actor to do?  Obviously he or she must get some acting experience ASAP.  This is what community theatres, theatre clubs, and youth ensembles are for.
I encourage every aspiring actor to work in amateur theatre to find out if they have the qualities on which it is necessary to risk investing time and money. 

Then there is another thing that bothers me about most of these people. They almost always say how much they love acting and how much they have always wanted to act.  So why the heck haven't they been acting in school and community theatre?  Whatever prevented them from doing it then may well prevent them from doing it now. People who become actors are likely to be people who are constantly performing in plays, musicals and, perhaps, student or indie films.  You can't stop them from acting, and they cannot stop themselves from acting as well.  I think of  Heath Ledger, who, immediately upon graduating high school, hopped in his car and drove the length of Australia to seek a career in acting.  Nothing could stop him from being an actor. But we need to remember that he had all the other qualities for success as well as tremendous drive.

Acting is not something to consider lightly.  Everyone has heard how difficult it is to become an actor.  They need to make sure they have the qualifications before attempting acting as a profession.

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