These Are My Confessions (July, Part 2)

We like to perform so when we are around one another, it just sets off a chain reaction of events and before you know it, you’re staging a gender reversal version of Chicago in someone’s living room, complete with choreography and voice parts. 

So unfortunately, I have not been able to locate Jimmy Hoffa’s body as promised last week. That doesn’t mean I’m not looking. So far all my leads have led me to believe that he may have last been seen sleeping with the fishes…was that in poor taste? Oh well I digress.

I found last week’s post very cathartic, so I wanted to continue with it. Taking it a step further, I will be even more influenced by Mr. Platt (aka Evan Hansen, I need you guys to keep up!) by talking about my life and some of the frustrations I face as an actor. Here we go!

  1. Yes! It is a real career. I’ve wanted to be an actor ever since I was two. So in that regard, yes it is a dream that I’m pursuing. However, it is in fact also a career. A lot of people see actors on stage and assume that we are just playing or goofing around. However, we do get paid. We (well, most of us) put in time and effort to become better. And…it’s becoming increasingly popular for actors to pursue MFAs as a way to get ahead in their careers. Many MFA programs are now offering union status upon completion and many actors will tell you that in some markets, it’s almost impossible to get work if you’re NOT equity. So there are real career objectives here. Do I have fun at work? Hell yeah! But you could too if you were happened to choose a career that you’re passionate about.
  2. It’s not something you can turn on at a whim…so please stop asking me. Many actors have a process that they go through in order to develop their character. And while ALL should have a solid supply of monologues, they usually spend time working on them before just busting them out. But it never fails to amaze me the amount of people who just assume that I’m always in performance mode all the time. In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, allow me to set the scene for you ( I can say that, you can’t). I’m having an innocuous conversation with a pleasant stranger when the topic of careers comes up. I tell them that I’m an actor and their immediate response is: “Oh that’s great….do something!”. Now usually I respond one of two-way, depending on high my petty tank is filled that day. I will query as to what their profession is and then turn the question back on them, thus point out how silly their request was – i.e. “Oh you’re a personal trainer…..train me! Right here, right now!” – or I will inform them of my next performance and let them know that if they would like to see me in action, they are more than welcome to buy a ticket and support the arts. This line of thinking ties into this weird belief that since the arts should be consumed by everyone, an artist’s work should be free. That’s NOT how it works. Now, some of you might be wondering well isn’t it the same as me asking my lawyer friend for advice or calling up my engineer uncle to ask about a homework question? To which I reply, not quite. In those instances, you’re asking a person with a specific set of knowledge to help you understand a topic. You’re not asking them to build you a bridge for the sake of seeing them build you a bridge. You want a show? Pay for it.
  3. Please stop asking us when we’re going to get a real job. This goes back to point one a little bit….so think of it as 1a. This is something that all artists deal with I’m sure. I will just say this. It’s insulting. Stop doing it. We have real jobs. Most of us have multiple real jobs. As long as we are getting paid for a service, that is a real job. I don’t care if that service is waiting tables, working in a call center, or dog walking….We have real jobs. The fact is, depending on where you’re working, some actors don’t get paid enough from their craft alone. So they need a flexible schedule that allows them to pursue their actual career while still being able to pay their bills. Now, if you gave up on whatever dream job you had and just settled for something, that’s on you. But please don’t ask me settle along with you just because misery loves company. 
  4. We can’t help being the life of the party. This is what happens when all your friends are talented and you get together on a saturday night to hang out. We like to perform so when we are around one another, it just sets off a chain reaction of events and before you know it, you’re staging a gender reversal version of Chicago in someone’s living room, complete with choreography and voice parts. 
  5. It takes a lot out of us. If you have a friend with an actor, give them a hug. Offer to take them out for coffee. They’ve got a lot on their plate. I just started performing more regularly last year when the restaurant I was working at (alright yes…..that cliche’ is true. But remember what I said about flexible schedules) closed. Since then, it feels like I’ve been moving non stop. We undertake a lot to put on those shows that you enjoy. Behind the scenes we are tired and worn. So please, be gentle with us. We are also in one of the most subjective fields in the world. Our jobs literally consist of being told no on a daily or weekly basis. We are constantly in a state of growth, and – this is the big thing – this is one of the only fields where we can only truly get better if we are able to get the job. We go to classes to work on our skills and to network. But where can we put those skills to use? We have to be in a show in order to utilize our skill set in its natural environment. So get the image of the over sensitive actor out of your head. You’ve got to be tough as nails to do this; to be told no constantly and still have the drive to get up and go out and try again.

I realize that these are more like tips for dealing with the actors in your life than actual confessions. To which I will reply, they have been on my mind and I’ve been wanting to get them off my chest so in that vein, I suppose they can still be considered confessions. I don’t want to make it seem like actors have it hard. I get to go to work and play and use my imagination; I understand how lucky I am. But that doesn’t mean that the job doesn’t come with hurdles. I’ll be back next week with more confessions. In the meantime, leave some of your work related confessions in the comments below.

 

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