Here I am almost 40 and still grinding away at this acting game- and I couldn't be happier!
The journey hasn't been easy though. As a teenager I knew exactly what I wanted and I went after it whole heartedly - head down, bum up, fearless. I knew the odds....99% of actors are out of work 99% of the time - and the career counsellor at my "prestigious" high school "counselled" me to think twice about such a move- but I reassured her with my extreme positive attitude backed with a big dream and of course how I loved to act. “Get a back up degree just in case”, she said. “No no no” I said...”I'm doing this. I love it”
And so off I went! I was going to be that star accepting an Oscar preaching if you work hard enough you can be here too. Blah blah....the innocence of a dream eh?
The great thing about acting is that you're never too old to try it, work on it and actually succeed in it. Jessica Tandy was 80 years old when she won an Oscar! There’s hope for me yet J
I remember Cate Blanchett saying that when she completed her training she was going to give it all she had until she was 30 and then call it quits. "The odds of failure are too high and I don't want to suffer". As I neared my 30th and still doing plays that I produced, short films for free, TV show guest roles, indie features (the list goes on) I couldn't get this quote out of my head. I realised I had given everything I had but still hadn't had a break. Maybe I wasn't as talented as I thought. Maybe I'm annoying. Maybe I am not an artist!! Or worse maybe this is my journey- to fail!! What a nightmare. I was sad. Thanks Cate!! But I realised very quickly that maybe Cate wouldn't have stood by her quote - it's easier said then done. To quit something you get so much joy from. But with this path comes a lot of shit - rejection, frustration, depression, anxiety..... But that's life too.
There's no business like show business! If you're the best actor on Earth you may never be a professional full time working actor (and that is making it right?). Golden Hawn said she simply stepped in the right puddle. Chalize Theron’s story to fame encapsulates how unfair the acting path is and makes you want to quit immediately. It makes you want to just throw in the towel.
I once had a conversation with Richard Roxburgh (also just before I turned 30) and I was so frustrated. He said there are actors much better then him and are still "waiting". “But you just keep trying.... if you truly enjoy the craft”.
So, working your ass off does not necessarily mean you'll "make it". Harsh but true. They said “what you put in you get out”. But there were actors in my circle "making it" that were awful to say the least (ahem, maybe I'm jealous??), and yet they keep getting roles. They did nothing towards their craft, they never took classes, they didn't care about head shots or try at all and they were the getting the work. So is “what you put in you get out” a stupid concept in acting? Or in art in general? Perhaps I got it all wrong!! Maybe relaxing through the journey as an artist might actually get me more work because I'm relaxed and the emotions will move through me more easily. Maybe it's about Grace (beautiful Grace). Maybe the meaning of “what you put in you get out” has a different definition. Oh man! The thoughts going around my head, the envy, the desperation, the frustration whirled around me stabbing my ego.... “It's your fault ego!!!”
I need to be driven..... Then the light bulb moment!! It doesn't matter.....
This was a very important turning point in my career as an actor. I realised as long as I am acting then I am living my dream. Getting money from it is an unbelievable bonus. There's a lot to be said for actors working for free (but that's a subject for next time).
So what do I know now that I didn't know then?
Your drive doesn't need to be fame or fortune or glamour etc. Ego will get you nowhere. Your drive must come from happiness. The happiness of performance and hopefully making this life more understandable/ enjoyable / liveable to whoever gets to see your work. Accepting simply - all that matters is the work, the craft, the audience, the story. Focus on that. Have a family. Travel. Have a day job that supports your joy.
Life wasn't meant to be easy, but at least have fun while you do it.