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“How Hard is it to Become an Actor?” … LOL

How hard is it to become an actor
By Artist's Strategy

“How hard is it to become an actor?” A question we have heard bluntly time and time again…Let me tell you about my come-to-Jesus moment.

About a year ago I finished what was truly a dream gig. Two artistically innovative productions in rep, at two renowned theaters, 3 months and fantastic pay. Not only was I challenged as an actor, but I finally after 5 years joined Actors’ Equity.

I made it. I was a “real” actor.

I returned to New York like Caesar after Pharsalus. With my card and fancy credits I loaded up on a few pay-to-plays with various agents and casting directors. Not only was I talented and classically trained but I had some “heat”. These pay-to-plays were an easy call, once these people saw me and my resumé I’d be riding the gravy train to successville. “Where have you been, gorgeous?”

But something strange happened at these classes. I met dozens of actors and every single one was absolutely brilliant. Given a “break” any one of them could have been starring in a Broadway show or recurring on a series the very next day.

After a few years pounding the pavement, riding the highs and lows in this crazy business I was left with a few takeaways.

  • There are so many wonderfully talented and unique actors, why do I think this will and should just happen for me?
  • Talent and love for the craft are not enough. Lots of people have that. What is going to help me make a living in this oversaturated market?
  • Am I willing to put that work in and is it worth it?

The third question knocked me off my feet. Since I was eight years old I’ve wanted to be an actor, and here I was coming off my first real professional job and thinking about leaving the business.

This happens to many of our clients. Working with us they realize that their talent, their agents, what school they went to, their collective hopes and dreams are simply not enough. If they want to build truly sustainable and enriching careers they must take their business into their own hands and run it effectively.

What comes next are the thoughts about what running a business really entails: the sacrifice, the work, the emotional turmoil and the fear. One starts to see the infinite amount of effort they could actually put into their business strategies, then the choice becomes clear:

Become an entrepreneur and take on all that it entails.

OR

Hope someone sees how good they are and gives them a break.

It is incredibly hard to become an actor.

I believe anyone can act, but to become a working actor is another matter. Few actors out of the many who hope to actually do it live a stable and sustainable existence and that normally has to do with a few things:

  • Not wanting to put work into their business
  • A general lack of planning and strategy around their careers
  • Focusing on short-term solutions and not the long-game
  • Limited sense of what opportunities they could actually create

Embodying the above four points of course offers no guarantee for a successful career, but you’ll greatly increase the chances. So to answer the question, yes, it will be hard work. You will have to do things you do not want to do, you will have huge setbacks and success alike that you must disassociate from and you must develop strong business savvy and resiliency.

And hoping it all works out makes it all the more difficult but welcome to the world of any entrepreneur ever.

So at least make the easier choice and do the hard work!

Also by Artist’s Strategy:

Actor Showcases Ruin Careers Before They Even Start

Feedback for Artists: It’s Worth It

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