I’m assuming you didn’t get into acting to be famous (because let’s face it; if you want to be famous, there are plenty of easier ways to do that, from eating bugs and shooting your nuts off to making a sex tape or denying marriage licenses to gay folks). You got into acting because you love the craft and you hope to make a living doing it.
What you didn’t know was that craft and career are two different things. In one hand you hold your craft, the creative spark that fulfills you. In the other hand is your career, the thing you aspire to achieve. You hope that your career and your craft will intersect…that they will thread fingers together like a romantic couple. And maybe they will. But most of the time they shift in and out, coming together and releasing like an on-again, off-again Hollywood relationship.
Both craft and career deserve equal attention. But too often your career eclipses your love of the craft. As you puuuussssshhhhhh to check all those business goals off your list, your craft sits neglected in a corner, sad and droopy, like a kid with a deflated balloon.
When you focus solely on your career, acting is no longer fun. Instead of enjoying every chance you get to play a character and be in the moment, your experience is clouded by what it might do for your career. For instance:
Auditions are only about booking the job or the room. Workshops are only about making a connection so that you get an audition. Plays, videos, short films are just opportunities to entice industry folks who will get you auditions, so you can book a “real” job. When you finally get on set, it’s exciting, but you focus on just getting your lines down and blasting out on social media in the hopes that it will lead to another audition or booking.
What used to be a free, creative playground has turned into a career ladder. So now all you’re doing is trying to climb…or at least hold on, white knuckled, until the elusive “success” is achieved.
But without the exhilaration of acting what is the point?
It’s time to reclaim the playground of your craft.
Don’t wait for someone to hire you to be creative. Build your own playground. Look at all the ways you could be playing:
- living room script readings with fellow artists
- writing scripts
- community events/actor co-ops
- going to movies/plays/film festivals
- reading scripts of favorite movies/tv shows
- 30 auditions in 30 days (pull scripts off the web and tape yourself with a friend)
- free writing
- do The Artist’s Way by yourself or in a group
- artist dates (see Artist’s Way)
- imagination exercises
- create & produce web series or short films
- join a theater company
- start a book, movie, or script club
- auditions – yes, especially these. Don’t let career body check creativity to the sidelines as you focus on getting the job (and end up in your head).
Your job is to have fun acting no matter what room you’re acting in.
At the end of the day, if you stay creatively active, you will have fed your creative soul. All those business goals – goals you should aspire to but not hang your hat on – will have either come or not come or come and gone. But regardless what shape your career takes, you will have always enjoyed doing the thing you love.
So when the industry chases it’s tail or gives you a backhanded slap — when you don’t book the role because you’re too tall, short, blond, brown, muscular, flabby, young, old, wise, vulnerable or because you look just like the director’s ex-wife — you will still have the fulfilling experience of collaborating with other artists. You will excite each other and create your own projects. Not booking the job won’t matter because you will have enjoyed your time on the playground.
Okay, yes, it will matter. You’ll be bummed, you really wanted the part, you knew you were perfect for it. You’ll complain to your hubby or your best friend. it might sting a bit. BUT if you really enjoyed your play time, your creative time, your collaboration time, your craft, your in-the-momentness — and if you know you have more creative time coming up — it will sting much, much less. And you’ll get over it much, much quicker.
It’s play time!