Chances are, when you pick a career path out of the norm, you get a lot of negative feedback.
Man: “So what are you going to school for?”
Me: “Me, I’m to school for acting, I go to a conservatory out in LA.”
Man: “Acting?! You know how hard it is to get into that profession. There are MILLIONS of starving actors out there. My boy tried to become an actor, and he was good. I mean that boy could act, what makes you think that YOU can make it? Who are you to think that you are better than my friend”
Me: “Why not.”
-End of conversation-
I’ve had about a handful of conversations like this. Luckily, just a handful. At the worst it’s something negative like that. I don’t argue, I already see what their mindset is and so I change the subject or end the conversation. sometimes you get the casual “good luck”, or sometimes you get a blank response but the silence and facial expressions speak volumes. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, right?
I can’t say that I didn’t use to think like that. My father had instilled it in me that acting was not the career path that I was going to follow. I had joined some drama clubs while in Middle School and had moved onto my freshmen year taking some drama courses as well. When he found out he was outraged, took me ot of my high school and had me put into another high school where he intended to put me into welding. But he didn’t, and I was stuck my freshmen year, lost.
After high school, I had enrolled into Cal Poly Pomona. I had decided not to stay in the dorms because I didn’t like the idea at the time and planned on commuting. The car I bought ended up being a lemon and my family and I had the fortunate experience of becoming homeless. I say fortunate because I learned a lot.
I learned, for one, that I had to take 100% control of my life.
I learned that homelessness is not the end, the end is when you run out of time.
I learned that homeless shelters are not always free, even if you just sleep there, and that they will kick you out.
I learned that some people actually do smoke weed EVERYDAY, all day.
I also learned that life was too short and fucked up not to live for myself.
While we were homeless, a bunch of my friends were telling me “you’ve got to go to school, it’s the only way.” It made me feel horrible that I wasn’t in school. So as soon as I got back on my feet, I re enrolled and took to acting on the side. School was my back-up plan. I found that no matter how well I was at school, my heart wasn’t in it, that path didn’t have a heart. I was doing a LOT of acting and other activities on the side, and put more focus into them. I also found that I was reading more books outside of my textbooks than the actual textbooks.
Then it happened. I starting failing my math course. MATH IS MY SUBJECT!! How was that? I knew what the problem was, but I was still scared. I couldn’t manage my time effectively between trying to work full-time, train in martial arts, go to play rehearsal and a full load at school. I soon fell into academic probation. It made me think hard about where I was going, and what I was going to do.
“The thing that leads you here, at this moment, is that you have talent. Take my word for it. The thing that makes you say, ” I want to do something”-that is the beginning of talent”-Stella Adler
Soon after I made the transition to Stella Adler Los Angeles. It took a lot of courage, but after reading a WHOLE lot of success literature, thinking, reflecting, and doubt, it was what I had to do to feel alive again.
As far as competition goes, it is helpful to know that there is a whole lot of “competition.” I wouldn’t want to underprepare for my profession. I like to think of acting as the hottest girl in high school: everyone wants a piece of her, but not everyone is going to get it. You’ll have your dumb jocks that may think that their status, physique, good looks or whatever are going to guarantee their place next to her. So they might come with cheesy lines, or become too aggressive in their approach, with no regard to the woman’s feelings or the given circumstances. Some may not even have any self awareness, of their strengths, what they smell like, how they look or whatever. And some may not have done their research: she may have a boyfriend.
So as far as others failing and not making it. That’s them and not me. Sure, it’s helpful to take into account their story and try to learn from their mistakes, but you shouldn’t let what happens to someone else discourage you. I can immediately guess some of the reasons some don’t make it:
Some people don’t learn from their mistakes.
Some people don’t go at it long enough, they don’t persevere. They believe in failure.
Some people don’t do the knowledge, they don’t research their industry and go in under prepared.
Some people don’t pay their dues and take their time to learn the craft.
Auditions can be nerve wrecking yes, but try to make sure you’re prepared. Stella Adler said an actor should be willing to travel over 1,000 miles to find a technique or skill that makes them complete and feel confident. I never worry about the other fellow, he is not me. He doesn’t have me will, my drive, my, talents motivation, or experiences.
Worry about You.
In addition, it’s never a good idea to try to beat your competition. Always try to beat yourself. The only thing your competition will ever have on you is higher expectations and a higher degree of discipline. Higher expectations of what the challenges ahead are, leading to higher expectations of themselves, leading to setting larger goals which takes a TON of discipline to accomplish. Yeah, they may know someone too. But ultimately, in my opinion, it’s what they expect that leads them to create plans and carry them out. So research your industry, do the knowledge, know what to expect and develop the discipline to carry it out. My time in the library is coming to a finish so I’ve got to go.