Well hello everyone!!! I know it has been quite a while, a few months, in fact. To start, I’m still alive and breathing oxygen and managing to pay my rent and eating decently healthy food. I’d call that doing pretty damn well in the book of life, lol… And therein lies my inspiration for today’s post. This isn’t an uncommon question, but for anyone out there who may want a little more clarity on the topic, WHAT IS AN ACTOR WHEN THEY’RE NOT ACTING?… and I don’t mean that in the mega-Hollywood actor sense, but the every day actor whose just trying to book a professional gig.
I have found in my travels now through LA, tour, and NYC, that this is actually a far more complicated question than people give it credit for. Especially celebrities who’ve already “made it” and respond to the question in interviews and such with the answer, “I had to work really hard, and constantly study my craft, and make money wherever I could to scrape by.”… Now, I’m not saying that answer isn’t true, it ABSOLUTELY is, but it couldn’t be a bigger under-estimation of the toil, trial, and tribulation that the every day actor goes through. It’s not an understatement due to lack of validity, it is an understatement in the same way watching someone in a movie get sexually assaulted cannot possible carry the same weight if you, yourself, were to be sexually assaulted by someone. There is value that we put on ourselves, we can’t help it we’re human beings, and the reality of a high emotion situations only carry true value when they are experienced personally. I know I’m using some heavy rhetoric to set my point up, but stick with me…
This is why I love that question, because the answer is, an actor not acting is exactly what you are whenever you’re not doing what you do. The only thing that makes it such a far fetched idea is that since you are not an actor, you think you don’t know what actors do. We all fight the same fight and struggle the same struggle. Where is the rent/mortgage payment coming from, where is the food coming from, can I afford to go on vacation right now, etc. etc… If you participate in any profession where money is somehow exchanged (aka everything) you and I have the exact same problems to solve.
Here’s the rub, though, and why it takes a specific type of person to be able to make it to the top of your field as an actor/singer… Let’s say you work as an engineer and you work 40 hours a week, hate your boss, and loathe pretty much everyone in your office except the couple of folks you eat lunch with most days. When you clock out and say deuces to the facility, THAT’S IT, it’s done. Even if you have to finish some work at home, you can do it in the comfort and privacy of your own f-ing space… When you are an actor, and I mean a real actor doing everything you possibly can to get positive results that yield upward mobility in the field. You NEVER clock out.
At any moment, at any time, it may be expected of you to both look and perform at your best ability, and not only in your acting life, but in your personal life as well. Your room for error is vast, auditions go poorly every day, but when your number is actually called, when the person you’ve wanted to notice you all along finally sees you, if you are not prepared and at your best… you may not get another opportunity for a number. It’s just that delicate… Now, add to this, that you still have to pay rent, have money to eat food, and have some ability to entertain yourself so that you don’t go insane – and there’s your answer to what an actor is when they are not acting. There is no way the celebrity on TV could sit in a single 15 minute interview and tell you juuuuust how hard it was to get where there are right now… For me, I love this amount of pressure. For a person who looks for challenges to accomplish, I love the balance that is necessary to keep the fight alive.
Now, there are thousands of “clocked out” actors that range from those who flat out had to quit to those who just don’t try that hard anymore, and prior to being immersed in this world, I definitely scoffed at the idea of the goofy teenager who leaves home to “make it” on broadway, only to be quickly turned away and come home with their tail between their legs. But I now have a better understanding, and no longer scoff at the idea and instead respect it. And I respect it for this reason… The same argument could be made for anyone who started any job, any where, and never managed to work their way to CEO, Director of Operations, GM, or even something as simple as shift manager, and at the end of the day it sucks, but thus is life for everyone. Not every one makes it to be a manager, not every one gets to be important… but better to fail and be sure, than live with the doubt of uncertainty (as long as it doesn’t result in your death or a drug habit, lol)
If I had more time today, I’d go into the mental struggle of being an actor, ESPECIALLY for women. If you have a female friend or family member trying to be an actor, show them love and mercy, because NOW IMAGINE that not only could you not clock out from work, you still have to figure out how to pay rent, and your bosses and co-workers tell you every day that you need to be thinner, taller, smaller, paler, darker, have longer hair, have shorter hair, and a cornucopia full of caveats and expectations, oh… and you can only eat bird food to achieve all of these objectives at once… it’s basically a bombardment of kamikaze planes at your self-esteem… some really difficult shit.
So to conclude, we’re all the same, fighting the same struggle… so what do I do right now when I’m not acting? Work 40 hours at the new restaurant I’m working at, practice audition material, actually audition for those shows (which I have to schedule around the 40 hour work week, lol), continue to write this musical I want to do, find free time to chill with my girlfriend and other friends, and schedule and prepare for small gigs in between. I’m pretty much always clocked in 🙂