Letters to A Young Actor #2
No matter where you are on your theatrical journey you will receive a great deal of advice mostly from people who are not actors nor even work in entertainment or the arts. While they mean well, most of this advice should be ignored. I understand the implicit hypocrisy of writing advice to ignore advice and I remind you again to feel free to ignore me, or if you prefer think of these as letters of inspiration.
The moment a young man or woman states “I want to be an actor.” there will be no end of well meaning loved ones, friends, and strangers quick to offer such advice as “That’s a hard way to make a living.”, “Don’t quit your day job.” or “Just do it as a hobby”. Should the young person persist in their interest then the second wave of advice will come and the well wishers will say “Make sure you have a fall back.” and “Have a five year plan.”.
Should you encounter such advisors dear actor, bear them no ill will. They do not speak from a place of malice, but an honest desire for your happiness. Unfortunately, many well wishers in an honest desire to see you happy expect you to fail. Again, this is not with malicious machinations, but an honest wish to protect you from a life of tragedy. Friends and family who love you but do not see your world from the inside have a very limited view of its possible successes and failures. They will imagine you as the starving artist seeking shelter in derelict buildings, subsisting on scraps of food, walking miles through the snow in hole riddled clothes to desperately audition for steel eyed directors only to face rejection after rejection. Worst of all for those well wishers, they will imagine you unhappy, weeping, crying out frustrated in your dark hovel with only the cockroaches to hear you.
The imaginings of these well wishes is a possibility, but not a necessity dear actor. Thus unlike those who love you, you must expect to succeed. It is in the face of this loving advice that staying true to the expectation of success is most difficult. Because in those instances where the expectation of failure does come from one who is malicious, resentful, or just a dick; we have, just by living among other people, years of experience in deflecting such negativity. But such advise is most insidious when it comes from those most well meaning and it as at such times that it must be most resisted. For if you expect failure, and plan for failure, that is exactly what you shall achieve.