Chris pointed out something today that I hadn’t noticed before. When people ask me what I do, for some reason I look down when I say “I’m an actor”. He says it’s something I do a lot actually. It’s a very subtle glance downward, or to the side when I say “actor”. Almost like I’m lying. I’ve never noticed it, or maybe I’ve just never wanted to admit it. I just know how I feel when someone asks me about my job: embarrassed.
I was introducing myself to a new friend today and she asked me what I do. I started to say actor then I stopped short, afraid she’d think I’m a phony or wanna be. In these situations, I usually rattle off one of the other things I do first like being a journalist, writer, podcaster or mom. I want to yell “ACTOR!” from the rooftops but I don’t because the one thing I am in my heart and soul is not what pays the bills. And because I’m not working full-time as an actor, I’m not where I want to be. I’m feel like a failure.
I also hesitate to tell people what I do because inevitably the follow-up question is, “What have I see you on?” Which is weird for me because then I feel like I have to start listing my IMDb credits and they still look at me like they have no idea who I am.
Nor should they I guess. As actors we’re supposed to be known for “disappearing” into our characters not who we are off-screen, right? At least that’s how I’m imaging it was in the old Hollywood days. When actors weren’t looking for fame. Fame wasn’t a necessity to get work. In today’s world you can only pray that people know your name and love you or you may never work again.
“Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living. After all, Shirley Temple could do it at the age of four.”
― Katharine Hepburn
I’m not where I want to be as an actor and I don’t know how to get there. Is anyone really? Sure the top 1% probably are but most actors are constantly striving for new challenges and bigger roles. They want to work with a certain director or star. Or buy that yacht to sail around Ibiza.
Of course I want all of those things too! They just feel really, really unattainable. I get bit parts on TV shows and that’s enough to sustain my appetite for this business year after year. I wonder when little bites will be enough to sate my appetite or make me want to go somewhere I can get a full meal? Hey, this is an awesome analogy!
I can’t imagine being anything else other than an actor which makes it even crazier that I would be embarrassed. Acting used to be a noble craft, that people studied for years to excel at. Now it feels like it’s a whim for people who want to get movie star famous but not put it any work studying the art.
Is acting still a noble art form? A craft? Are we over thinking it? When was the last time you went to a movie and thought, wow that actor/actress was incredible and “knows their craft”? Honestly there aren’t a lot of movies even being made where actors can show off their skills. But that’s another post for another day when I’ve had more coffee.
“Actors need a kind of aggression, a kind of inner force. Don’t be only one-sided, sweet, nice, good. Get rid of being average. Find the killer in you.”
― Stella Adler,
I hate feeling embarrassed to say I’m an actor. I want to hold my head up high and not have to apologize for the fact I’m not featured on E!, or starring in the latest Netflix show. Can you be an actor if you’re not actively acting?
Whoa. This just got meta.
The one thing that makes me feel better is that I AM actively creating something. My podcast, my blog, new things for my YouTube channel. Plus being a mom has opened a wide world of creativity that I never thought I would experience.
While I’m trying to hold my head up high as an actor, I have to remind myself that there are other sides to acting like creating. And I happen to be totally kicking ass at that right now. I’m going to force myself to keep saying I’m an actor without shame because if I stop saying it, no matter how much I feel like I’m failing, then it might never happen.