Everywhere I go, people ask me whether or not I am still actively acting or even interested in it. The answer is…yes. I am always interested in finding work and being involved with great projects, great stories, and great people.
Being an actor is an easy thing to say you do. Actually acting (read: working) is the difficult part. Of course, a lot of people say if you’re not in a film currently or on a TV show that’s on the air, then you are NOT an actor. I don’t agree with this sentiment…entirely. I do feel that someone “fresh off the bus” in L.A. or New York that has no contacts, no experience, no resources and no clue of what this business is about is not an actor. They are someone who is interested in becoming one. On the contrary, if someone has done the homework, put themselves in a position to allow themselves access and opportunity and began the long, difficult endeavor, even if they haven’t gotten past student films or school plays, then they are on the right track.
Of course, my situation is a bit different. I started working in this industry at a very young age, as many others did that are currently big stars. Many of you would be surprised at the number of people that are on your favorite shows or films that have been around forever. These individuals have put in the time (years) and effort (determination) to achieve the level of access that leads to success. (And even then, the work ebbs and flows, just like any other form of self-employment, which is essentially what acting is.) This is the norm, not the exception.
A lot of people think most stars are “discovered” and hit it big in a few weeks of being anywhere near Hollywood. Um…no. This is the exception.
The reality is that for every star discovered pumping gas and minding their own business, there are months and usually years of prep work either before or after that discovery to make them ready for prime time. Yes….there are plenty of stories of people that are discovered and become well-known. But even most of these situations are not “overnight”. Hollywood as you know it, the epicenter of the film/tv business, is where most folks interested in the industry head to. But they don’t “hand out sit-coms at the airport!” (great Swingers line). These people need to get headshots, an agent or manager and be able to get into auditions and be in places to meet the right people. (And that in itself isn’t a piece of cake, either. Agents and managers aren’t lined up on the sidewalk handing out business cards.)
Most people also need some instruction or, at the very least, consultation on what to expect. This is one reason why you see so many flyers for acting classes and other forms of instruction. (My thoughts on that another day.)
There are of course instances where some cute girl or hunky guy is waiting tables or working the door becomes the next hot thing…but again, ask them how long they were doing other things before they were rubbing elbows with movie stars at The Chateau Marmont.
This leads to another aspect. Most people, even working actors, have large gaps of time in between being seen on tv or film. The odds of getting a starring role on a network show are so astronomical it would blow your mind. There are so many people vying for a few spots…spots that are still available after the already recognizable people turn down! That leaves even less chance!
You have to soldier through it and go to the next thing. If you can’t take rejection…don’t be in this industry…actor, director, writer ANYTHING! The old saying “You will hear 1,000 NOs, before you hear the first YES” is true. The problem is, most humans don’t take continual, and I mean continual, rejection very well.
Imagine for a minute that cute boy or girl you wanted to go out with in high school. Now imagine that scenario, and the way you felt about actually asking that person out, with every single person in your school. Sweating yet? Now, imagine how you would feel if they all turned you down. It would start to wear you down.
This is the most unique, different, weird, screwed-up industry on the planet. It’s not rocket science, but it IS harder to comprehend. That’s because rocket science has rules, and people act and operate under those rules and inside an understandable framework.
The entertainment industry does not. It operates on a different set of physical and theoretical laws. Laws that are constantly changing and will come back to contradict themselves. Think Newtonian and Quantum physics.
With that said…I am still interested in this business on many levels. Why?…because it is something in which I have a long background, experience and understanding. I happen to be one of the lucky individuals that actually has that experience spanning a large and very evolving segment of time. I have seen this industry change and change and change, yet stay exactly the same over the last couple decades. Of course, going from a little mop-top to teenager to college and professional has given me the opportunity to view this industry (as well as others) from many different perspectives, both from the inside and outside. This, I believe has enriched me and my character more than most get a chance to discover. This I appreciate and do not take for granted.
So, acting is still something I do and am interested in. I have just been focusing on some other endeavors (like my own company) the last few years. But, when someone calls and asks me to be involved in a project I would be glad to look into it…and knowing how this business is…would be grateful that they called.