- You have to be serious. They do not like you if you are not serious.
- You have to be able to take feedback and absorb it without over thinking.
- Do not over think.
- Do not act; respond.
- There is alway someone better.
- You are not as good as you think you are.
Growing up, I always wanted to be an actress. It seemed glamorous and an enviable profession, and I’m one of those people where if I don’t try to at least do something I think I want to do, I’d be mad at myself.
When I was 14, I decided I wanted to pursue acting. I researched how to get signed with an agency and how my favorite actors got to where they were. I went to the library and checked out monologue books. I looked up six reputable agencies within Houston and read up on their submission process. That summer, I went to Shanghai and had professional headshots taken. I printed out my resume (complete with all the middle school plays I had done), attached them to the back and mailed them out. Out of the six, I got call backs from three. I eventually signed with one, and the end product was me eventually being in a McDonald’s commercial that aired overseas (where in the final cut you could only see my shoulder – ha).
The entire ordeal was kind of disappointing. Perhaps because Houston is not the market to launch an acting career, but also out of the two years that I was signed with the agency, I was only sent on one audition (which I landed). When they asked if I wanted to renew, I declined. I felt I had pursued my goal and to a certain degree, I had succeeded. I was in a commercial! I got to experience what it was like to go on an audition, be on a set, and be filmed. At that point, my pursuits in graphic design were showing better success and I decided that’s the direction I was going to move in.
Years later, I found myself still wondering — what if I pursued harder? What if I kept at it? I hate questions like that. I’m very much a one-track mind person. This was a path that was a huge fork from my current one. I don’t do one foot in and one foot out ordeals. So, do I give it all up and pursue full on?
Last week, I signed up for an acting class on a whim. In the two hours that followed, my childhood dreams were duly extinguished. I realized and learned –with relief– that I have other dreams and ambitions I care way more about that I am not willing to throw away.
I also learned what acting really is, not the glamorized Hollywood version that I fell in love with. It’s about how good your imagination is at recreating an environment as a character while absorbing and understanding the politics, culture and events of the time and place. It is not self-expression or creating your version of a role. It’s throwing yourself out the window and living moment to moment as someone else and all of this exists purely in your mind. The respect I have for professional actors, especially in theater, has grown exponentially.
And I finally realized why acting wasn’t for me: I want to be me for a living, not a blank slate to channel the voice of a script. Bringing words to life is definitely a talent, but I think my talents are in expressing myself. I don’t want to be liked as a character I play, I want to be liked for me. I want to be ME for a living. Acting is the antithesis.
So… do they teach classes on how to be you for a living?