The rumors that get thrown around in this business are often next level silly. I once heard someone say she was struggling with her lines so she slept on top of her sides to “absorb them”…k. I think a weird amount of info is proliferated by actors because 1) we don’t honestly talk with each other often enough and 2) this business is so random sometimes that things solidify unjustly to “truths”. So let’s knock down some things I am bored of hearing.
Note: maybe these apply to you and your success, in which case, you are an actor-unicorn and if you want to tell us your secrets, I’m not kidding, I want to hear them.
The chart-topper of actor myths. This myth is basically stating that you have to get good and ready to leave your career behind to book a big job. But the thing is, if you’re going in for big jobs, you’ve already had quite a career to speak of, meaning your credits will back up your performance and you also may know someone on the back-end (producer, director, casting, etc). And these relationships can bolster your chances of booking said “big job”. Please do not think you need to be in a full “fuck it” state to book a job! If you’re on the cusp of turning in your SAG card, I would wish for you to review the work you have put in up to this point and realize how freaking far you really have come! And please note that only you can hear the ticking clock that someone told you is your career timeline (another lie). This leads me to…
Let’s break this down. Maybe you thought you didn’t care. But maybe actually that particular role was super close to your natural state of being, or a side of you that is so easily tapped in to, it didn’t feel like as much work. Therefore you didn’t feel like you did hard work. Or maybe it was for a film that you never thought would get made or be any good, therefore you put all of zero pressure on yourself about it, as opposed to a guest star in your favorite HBO series. Sometimes people (especially in hindsight or for sound bites in the media) mistakenly remember the “not caring” with the simplicity/ease at which the role fit them. Or they associate it with not over-working the sides…you know the auditions when you were searching for meaning in every word when really all you’re saying is, “where is the bathroom?” to the lead character? Yup. The thing I hate about this one is that CDs and directors can actually tell when you give zero fucks. And you know what zero-fuck people do? Show up late to set, aren’t off book and try to wing it, and make everyones day harder than needed. Zero-fuck people may occasionally get jobs, but they don’t have careers. So how do you marry the chill mentality that we formerly thought was a zero-fuck actor with your A-type personality (yes I do know you all so well)? You work on growing and developing confidence in your acting, your auditions, and your self-tapes. You work to understand sometimes (a lot of times) you’re going to fucking nail it and not get booked because of nothing in your control. That’s how.
Repeat after me: my finances are important, I will respect them, I will cherish them, till death do us part. You may now kiss your debt goodbye. This rumor fires me up so much because it gives actors carte blanche to make really dumb financial decisions. I know a lot of my readers were not given any advantages in life. A lot of you were raised in low-income families and you are fighting tooth and freaking nail every damn day to stay afloat in LA or NYC or ATL of where ever. You are not the actors I am talking to. I am talking to actors who put themselves into debt because they have been told to “spend out” or “you have to spend money to make money” for way too long. Or who have been told when they really “give it their all” (subtext: all their bank account) that’s when they will finally book! But guess what? An acting job doesn’t pay enough money to get you out of most peoples’ amount of debt. They usually have to book several jobs or have a long standing series! Audrey Helps Actors did a great episode about this.
I am guilty of this. I too have bought several workshops and new headshots and started a new acting class all in the same day. I have bought 4-5 new “looks” because I found it a lovely excuse to buy new clothes. I have justified a lot of dumb makeup, hair, gifts, and general life purchases in my 9+ years in LA. I wish someone would have slapped my SouthWest Chase card outta my hand so many times. Yes, a lot of shit we have to do is wildly expensive (I am looking at you LA Casting, $25 photos my ass…) but you don’t need to do all of the things all of the time. And adding the stress of financial strain does not make you a better actor. In fact it may make you worse because you will go in for the next audition more stressed “needing that job” to pay your rent. I am all about rewarding myself for my acting (good or bad) and supporting my career in all ways, but sometimes I can’t afford to let that involve cash. You have to have some control on your money guys. Miata’s episode was all out getting your dollar shit together and I also can’t recommend enough her [FREE] classes at the Actor’s Fund.