Acting Unplugged, I am greatly impressed with your determination. You obviously do not want to be an actor, you "need" to be an actor.
And that is the great dilemma. If we cannot afford to live comfortably in a city as pricey as LA, and it's been years, and we're still not making any headway...don't you think it's logical to contemplate calling it quits?
I don't buy into the whole "Acting Gene", but I do believe that some people have an affinity for performing. If that is you, then you won't be able to quit, regardless of how hard you try. You'll have that tugging yearning, that whisper inside, telling you that you'll regret this if you don't go back.
And it's that whisper that keeps me in LA, in this cut-throat realm. If I could get rid of it, I would. Alas, I can't. Actor for life, perhaps.
How long before quitting acting? When to quit pursuing acting jobs? How to define success as an actor?
The answers to those questions are as varied and diverse as the reasons why a person STARTS pursuing acting. They're also inseparably linked.
For example; if a person decides they want to be an actor only as a pathway to fortune and fame then that person will undoubtedly either succeed quickly or quit to go in search of fortune and fame elsewhere. These folks tend to think acting is a relatively quick and easy way for their otherwise unskilled selves to make huge paychecks. When confronted with the realities of the entertainment industry they, well, they don't last very long. (Or they get a reality show).
And who can blame them? The Siren song of the glamorous life of a screen idol can be hard to resist. Which only makes crashing on the rocks in its pursuit that much more painful. Which may be why some people never give up "the dream".
On the other hand, if a person pursues acting because they have decided that, for whatever reason, deep down they were meant to stand on a stage and entertain strangers then they may have a different point of view.
Most of these types pursued acting long before they ever considered it as a means to pay the bills. It was always a labor of love and one whose payoff was self-evident.
These are the people who as kids were putting on puppet shows in the back yard or performing magic to anyone who would sit still long enough to humor them. They are the ones who stayed after hours in high school to put on a play or worked in community theatre or joined a dance class, etc.
For them acting is a calling, it is something they NEED to do. Writers write, painters paint, actors act. For them the decision to pursue a career in the arts was made with their eyes wide open to the fact that for all, but a minuscule percent, it will always be a struggle. A struggle for money, a struggle for respect, a struggle to survive.
These people will never quit the pursuit of acting. Sometimes with sad or even tragic consequences.
In some, the realization that acting simply will not sustain them financially leads to getting a "real" job and allows them to come full circle and pursue acting just for the love of it.
Then there are the delusional dreamers. The ones who think they can compete in the single most competitive job market in the world, despite the fact that they have zero training. They believe this because they "really really want it" or because they "just know something good will happen for them" or whatever it is delusional people believe.
These are the people on whom the, very healthy, actor-scam market primarily preys.
How long they last in their pursuit of acting fame is in direct proportion to the size of their delusion.
There are, obviously, many other types of and reasons why people pursue acting, but my fingers are tired and I have some jokes to write so I'll stop there.
I can tell you one thing for sure, though; if a person has a dead-stop time limit for success as an actor they may as well save themselves the trouble and quit right now. As their time and money would be better spent buying lottery tickets instead.
"I've never really viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic."
"You don't set out to build a wall. You say, 'I'm going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid.' And you do that every single day and soon you have a wall."
"There's no reason to have a Plan B because it distracts from Plan A."
"Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity."
Wise man, this Mr. Smith. Take heed.
We are at the "I need to withdraw from classes since I can't make any of them and take a gap year to see if I can gain more momentum and decide if I want to go back to school (maybe on line) or continue to act" phase.
The kid cannot do both school and act so he wants to try acting without school for the moment. He has the dream so it is hard to let go when you are just starting out.
His gap year with be just trying to build momentum. We will see.....
This is kind of my goal. If acting doesn't pan out, or in the mean time, I'd still like to pursue the production side of the entertainment industry (theatre or film). Unfortunately, it seems like that's just as hard to pursue as acting, so it's not helping me much right now.
Guess the question really just comes down to can you survive without depending on the acting? As some posters here have stated, some people are lucky enough to get a well paying job that still allows them to pursue the acting. In which case, there is no need to ever give it up unless you don't like it anymore.
But that seems to be the exception not the rule. Most people probably struggle finding a decent paying job with enough flexibility to continue performing.
you are an actor whether you like it or not. it's part of who you are. if you quit acting it will hunt you for the rest of your life.
They way I look at it:
Only do it if you _need_ to.
Meaning: Acting is so important to you that you can't see yourself doing anything else and be completely satisfied with it. Realistically, some of us has to do something else while trying to pursue our dream, but the ultimate goal is acting.
It's not gonna be worth the pain of the business if acting is just something "you maybe see yourself doing for a while - until something better comes along."
That's the way I also look at relationships.
Speaking of relationships, most friends, family, and strangers I meet seem to look down on acting and the arts as a career.
Tonight I met a lawyer. And the lawyer spewed out the popular MYTH that actors should only be talking about the craft, not making money. "If you want to make money, then be a lawyer instead."
Talking about making money as an actor is a lot like going on a date and saying that you want sex. A lot of people will immediately put up a wall.
I don't mind cutting my teeth in small theater gigs and indy film projects. The whole point, for me, is acquire the industry package and honed skill sets needed to do it for a living. The closer I get to that goal, the further it seems-- if you look at how much can be spent on trying to get a professional break.
The transformation that happens when you become one with the character, knowing you control audience laughter in the palm of your hand, and admiration one receives from acting are thrilling. You'll hear people genuinely insist that you be a performer.
I'm 41 now, broke. I don't mind working night and day on a shoot. But hard work for low pay in sideline jobs doesn't exactly leave a lot of energy for other things. Why shouldn't we want to make money as actors, and why can't we say so?
I have no plans to quit acting. I hope to strike it big and donate money to charity. Realistically, one of my acting mentors tells me about people who tried all their life and are now senior citizens with nothing in the bank. If I make the big bucks and get to talk on some latenight interview, mark my words, I'm going to go off about the nonsense of some myth that we're not supposed to be honest about wanting to make money as an actor. The craft itself is not about money, not at all. But darned if life-- and the business of the craft-- isn't about the dough ray mi.
"Oh, I just love every bit of it sooooo much! I only do it for the love of it!... Oh, and your a** doesn't look fat wearing that, really." The actors in LA who tell me that they only do it for the love of it are, perhaps, the most unbelievable (i.e. don't maintain audience suspension of belief).
For me, the time to quit chasing the dream would be if my true love asked me to. That would be due to possibly having a kid and needing cash. Most of my friends work in the arts. They're making money. If being the richest actor meant a life without love, then I'll choose love over acting. I can make an arena cheer and laugh. It's awesome. But there's nothing greater than a loving relationship, to me anyway, if we had to choose.
Very good point in relation to the title of this thread.
I've never paid for anything acting related in LA before. I always got paid and managed to network a little.
After some hard living (being a broke actor is hard) while performing full time, I gave it up.
Later on, I met other actors who did it for fun. They invited me to perform. The flame was rekindled.
I gotta agree that taking classes is useful... up to a point.
This is such a great discussion!
I'm reminded of a classic episode of "Taxi." Struggling actor Bobby Wheeler (played by Jeff Conaway) had given himself 10 years to make it as an actor when he started out. He didn't want to be a "loser" wasting his whole life struggling and throwing his life away, so he had given himself a 10-year deadline. If he didn't make it as an actor by then, he would give it up and pursue another career.
So in the episode, that deadline was approaching in a few days. Bobby began auditioning for absolutely anything and everything he could, calling his agent, etc. etc., determined to book something before his self-imposed deadline made him quit the business altogether.
So it's the last day. Bobby, Alex and Elains are in Bobby's apartment, and Bobby is POSITIVE that his agent will call by midnight with news of a booking. He's willing the phone to ring, but it doesn't. He counts the seconds down to midnight: "5, 4, 3, 2, 1..." No ring. No booking.
Bobby stares at the phone for a few moments, digesting this. Then...he shrugs and says, "Oh, heck, I'll give it another 10 years."
I think that really illustrates that it doesn't work to impose an artificial deadline on acting. It's really about how you FEEL.
You can give yourself a 10-year deadline to make it...but then find, like Bobby, that you're just not ready to give it up and want to keep trying. Or, conversely, you could give yourself a 10-year deadline but then find, three years in, that you're burned out and tired of struggling and fed up with it all, and quit the "professional" side of the business to seek another career, while still acting on the side for enjoyment. It's a very personal decision, and I don't think it's something you can really decide years in advance.
It's a tough question.I'm 43. I've worked enough to be vested(pension). I've been in an academy-award winning film, worked with a martial-arts legend in another film,done a fuckton of indie films and VO work. That said, I just had the worst 3 years if my life, being in 3 terrible films in a row.
I thought about walking away, but I won't. I'm good, and I have more to say as an actor.
A lot more.
"Its the struggle that makes it great"
I saw start acting if you A. decide it isn't worth the risk, insecurity, or effort B. You have other more pressing commitments which you MUST focus on aka finances, Kids, etc. C. It doesn't excite you anymore/ you become more passionate about something else.
Afterall you can always return.
I agree here with the idea that you don't have to work at starbucks but understand Los Angeles is highly competitve all around. You will have tons of competition here REGARDLESS of the job corporate or not. You won't understand it until you get here if you are used to a small town.
Money is the biggest issue for people who pursue the arts. You will have to figure that out on your own. If you just want to be one of the young and famous attention whores then go into reality tv or just enjoy being the star of your life. If being a 55 year old actor doesn't appeal to you at 18, acting isn't for you. BTW this isn't towards the OP but my general opinion for anyone who asks this question. It must be asked and answered by each individual on their own!
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