Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's all uphill... but oh, what a view!

It’s no secret that the life of the actor is a difficult one.  I may be biased, but I believe the pursuit of it as a profession may be the most challenging career path to choose.  Don’t get me wrong; I know the paths to becoming a doctor or lawyer or nuclear physicist are all long and arduous as well, but it’s not the same.  Many careers can take years of education, hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, studying until eyes are blurry for mind-crunching tests every week… but if that’s all it took to relatively guarantee a career as an actor, we would have a lot more success stories.  But actors don’t have the clear, if trying, path laid out as other professions do.  There is no life line to grit your teeth and cling to through the storm that is building a career.  Every actor must find and forge his/her own trail through the woods, and often in the face of more adversity than most people realize.
Being an actor means working two jobs to pay for rent and class and headshots and postcards and [insert next necessary expense here]… and still somehow finding the time to audition and film and go to the class and mail the postcards… all while knowing you could be making three times as much at some entry level position in corporate America if you didn’t have this weird obsession with getting in front of a camera.
Being an actor means going on hundreds of auditions and swelling with pride at a 30% booking rate.  30%!!  A doctor who had only a 30% success rate in surgery would not be practicing medicine for very long.  (Not only that, but I can’t imagine a hospital telling a doctor that he must interview for every surgery, but to do so, he must already have credits for performing a surgery… but he can’t get the credits of performing a surgery without interviewing for them…) 
Being an actor means cringing when you admit you’re an actor because you know the next question is, “What have you been in?” followed by the inevitable eye roll when your credits don’t include major blockbusters as you swallow the temptation to scream, “I’m just starting!  Give me a freaking minute!”
But we all know this crazy challenge going in, and to be honest, there’s something sexy and exciting about playing to beat the odds.  Knowing the deck is stacked against you, it only makes you smile a bigger smile because you’re holding cards you haven’t played yet.  I love it when people tell me, “Actress?  Yikes, that’s a tough profession, so competitive.  Not very many people actually make it.”
I just smile and say, “Oh yeah?  Watch me.”

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