Trish and Harold's Weblog

News, information, and random thoughts from the busy lives of Trish Egan and Harold Phillips.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm Not An "Aspiring Actor" - and Neither Are You!

Hey gang

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I'm in the habit of forwarding links to acting resources, and articles about the profession. I don't generally do that on the blog here... Twitter is an ephemeral platform; an ongoing conversation where sentences arrive, stay for a bit, and then pass on into the ether. Blogging is, by contrast, a much more permanent vehicle. When you write something on a blog, it's set in stone, and there for the ages (or until Google shuts down its Blogger service... which might well happen when the next big digital trend comes along, whatever it might be). You've "published" your thoughts, rather than bandied them about at a cocktail party.

With that being said, please allow me to share this article by Bonnie Gillespie, author of Self Management For Actors and a prolific "Twitterer" who posts pearls of wisdom regularly (If you're an actor and a Twitter user, and you're not following Bonnie, you're truly missing out.) Go ahead and take the jump to read the article... I'll be here when you get back.

The Actors Voice: The Struggle

I agree with everything Bonnie says in the article about actors need to remove the "struggling artist" archetype from their heads... but she hit on a real pet peeve of mine about mid-way through the article, and it's something that I want to elaborate on a bit.

If you'll allow me to wax a little uber-patriotic (and maybe just a little jingoistic)... one of the great things about America is the fact that you can say you're something... and you can BE that something. We live in the land of opportunity, right? You don't have to be born to a rich family to live in your own mansion - you can work hard and buy that mansion. You don't have to be in the right caste to own a bed-and-breakfast; if you dedicate yourself to that goal, you can achieve that too. Wanna be a cowboy? Find a cattle operation, sign on... and BOOM! You're a cowboy. That's part of the promise of our great land... if you decide to be something, you can be it.

The same holds true for our field... the profession of acting. It kinda frosts my cookies when I see someone describe themselves as an "aspiring actor," or a "wannabe actor." If you think of yourself that way, then you'll always be that. That mindset will always limit your work, because you'll put obstacles in your way that you'll have to overcome before you're a "real actor." After all, what makes the difference between a "wannabe construction worker" and a "real construction worker?" I say, if you want to be an actor, BE an actor.

Names have power. If you name a thing, you make it real. That presence in the dark woods is scary and unknown, but when you name that presence a werewolf, you have power over it. You know what it is, and you know what needs to be done to deal with it (or you can find out what needs to be done easily enough). Hey, why am I thinking about werewolves these days? Oh... that's right...

The same can be said about a profession... ANY profession. If you know you want to work in engineering, that's a big mountain to climb. If you know you want to be a structural engineer, though, you can find out the steps needed to work in that field and thrive. The same thing is true about acting. Deciding that you ARE an actor tells you what you need to do - you need to go to auditions, book the jobs, and act. Calling yourself an "aspiring" actor? That tells you that you can go do the auditions, but you'll never book the job and never act. You're just an "aspiring" actor, after all.

Don't aspire. Be.

And with that... time to go to an audition. Hope you're all doing well...