Acting is all glamour and paychecks, right? It can’t be stressful, otherwise how the heck could all those people in Hollywood manage it? I mean, it’s just smiling and looking pretty on camera and saying stuff that isn’t true, after all. Right?
Oh, boy. Hi, I’m your rude awakening. Let’s just set the record straight – or at the very least slightly less crooked – on the whole “being an actor” thing. From the strangely named “A List” down to the humblest touring dinner theatre company, professional actors are craftsmen.
When considering acting as a career path, what are the pros and cons?
A loaded question, to be sure, but one many thousands of students ask every year when applying to the major acting schools. There are no hard and fast rules, but here’s a short list to keep in mind.
Love Your Job. This is the biggest and most obvious sign in favor of acting. If you’re getting into it, chances are you love it, and (hopefully) you’ve developed some realistic expectations about this famously competitive industry. Artistic fulfillment is possible for the lucky and talented.
Hate Your Paycheck. There’s just no getting around this. An enormous slump in several key industries (film, video games, and advertising) has made the job pool smaller, and the applicant pool hasn’t shrunk by the same amount. For instance, Actor’s Equity has over 50,000 members, a bare fraction of whom are steadily employed.
No Boring Routines. For the creative person, routine is often the enemy. As an actor, you’ll be doing new performances, new shows, and taking new acting jobs regularly. Each day will be a brand new adventure, and for many, that’s worth everything.
No Guarantees. Even if you join a union (something many professional actors profess to avoid) there is no way to promise you’ll be working. Even before you attempt to get into acting, there is a sizable list of stepping stones:
▪ Attending school/acting classes: Carnegie Mellon, Tisch, Stella Adler … these are watchwords for aspiring actors, who compete viciously for the coveted slots in these small, internationally renowned actor’s training programs.
▪ Choosing a field within the field: Beyond Broadway and Hollywood, actors have plenty of options, such as voiceover work, commercials, musical theatre, Period work (such as Renaissance Faires) and more.
▪ Auditioning: Thick skin is an absolute must for the professional actor, who must daily absorb more rejection than a high school chess champion at a beauty pageant. Auditions are a daily part of an actor’s life, and according to most professionals, they never get any easier.
So do you do it, or don’t you?
It’s got to be your decision. Maybe you have it, and you know it. Maybe the air changes when you walk into a room and you’ve got that magical emotional transparency every director loves. Hey, there’s plenty of work to be had for the humble professional actor, and there is nothing wrong with small work to help build your resume. There are even murder mystery theater companies that have been the starting point for aspiring Actors. It’s a risk/reward analysis and a crapshoot, but if your dream lies on Broadway or the Big Screen, there’s no time like the present to give it the old college try.
Brielle F has always been interested in theater and the arts. She has always been in theater productions and dreams of some day hitting it big and getting a great acting role. For more information on murder mystery theater companies in Pennsylvania please contact her at @BriFranklin13