Written by Joanne Baron and DW Brown for Backstage Magazine. For original article, please visit: https://www.backstage.com/advice-for-actors/backstage-experts/acting-life-sacrifice-are-you-truly-ready/
Acting is a Life Of Sacrifice…Are You Truly Ready?
For someone who has professed a passion for acting, the question, “Do you really want to act?” will result in an unwavering respond that it’s their dream and that it’s all they’ve ever wanted to do.
But no matter how passionate the speech, there is often a huge gap between that declaration and actually taking the steps to prove it true.
It really comes down to a simple question or challenge: If you say that what you most desire and want is a career as an actor, what are you willing to do to attain that career? What are you actually willing to give up? All success has a price, and for actors, that price is often sacrifice.
Unfortunately, even some of the most serious acting students aren’t aware of the degree of sacrifice and commitment it takes to attain success. They may not even be aware of their own lack of commitment until it’s tested, until they’re asked to make a personal sacrifice.
We often see students with long lists of personal priorities—missing class for vacations, social events, or personal reasons. But whether it’s always been a challenge for some or we now live in a more entitled time where commitment and sacrifice aren’t always a priority, the age-old values and requirements for success are the same and will never change.
Will you do what you need to get what you want? Or when put to the test to give things up, do you find you just don’t want that acting career as much as you thought you did?
The standards for a professional actor are as follows: auditions and work dictate vacations and personal plans. Acting schools (like the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York) that have produced many stars and Academy Award winners have strict no-absence policies, thereby developing actors who not only know how to act but also have professional habits and philosophies to determine their futures.
At our school, we have a saying borrowed from Jeff Goldblum, whose work ethic is impeccable: “Treat the class like a job and you will go on to get jobs. Treat it like a class and you will become a professional student.”
Over time, actors learn to take out travel insurance, bring a camera with them for last-minute self-tapes, and make personal plans around the times of year when the industry goes on holiday.
But it’s hard for actors to think in terms of the great sacrifices they’ll need to make to have substantial careers. They don’t always understand that they’ll miss things and will often have to change or cancel plans at the last moment, sometimes at a substantial cost, when an audition or job comes up.
The test of seriousness is sacrifice. And personal sacrifice is what runs the seemingly glamorous life of working professionals. It’s never convenient, casual, or easy. No actor can take a vacation when their series is shooting or leave a set early and come late to work because their friend is in town. Even being sick is a challenge for an actor who can’t miss a day of shooting on a film or series.
The dream of acting might appear fun and glamorous, but the reality is that you must give up many things. If you are lucky enough to become successful, your work family will become who you spend the most amount of time with.
So before you set out on this journey, ask yourself and take the time to answer the following question: Do you REALLY want to act? Think about what it’ll take and the sacrifices you’ll have to make; is it truly something you will give everything to and give up so much for?
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