Patience is a virtue often underrated due to a fast-paced society we live in. People want to be famous right now so that others will grovel at their feet and pay money to see them at a convention. They want to be rich so that they never have to get a 9 to 5 job or splurge on ridiculous luxuries. The list goes on of course.
However, if everything happened quickly, how would you handle the consequences of what comes after?
Quite a few celebrities are dealing with harsh realities nowadays of getting heavily in debt due to their overspending and poor decision making. Some have turned to taking roles in B, C and D movies just to make money. Audiences used to glorify their names in movies, and now they taunt them on the internet and in Cards Against Humanity. At the same time, if the celebrity is happy to perform in poorly received films, then so be it. Let them use the sources that work to pay their debts.
Back to us, though; what’s wrong with learning? Here’s what people have shared with me so far.
It’s expensive. Think of college. A great number of people are still paying off their college tuition. Some say college is worth it, others say it isn’t. For actors, it depends on what you want out of your life. Not everyone who went to Julliard made it big. I’ve even met a few who flat out told me it wasn’t worth it. But what I found myself asking was, what did they want out of it? An immediate job in a Broadway play? An invite to audition to for Steven Spielberg? Or an education at one of the finest performing institutes in the world?
Time. Some of us are late bloomers. Including myself. Who cares? I may not make it as a romantic leading lady in a Hollywood film like Jennifer Lawrence, but I don’t care because it’s not something I want. I’d rather be a highly respected performer like Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, or Helen Mirren. They’ve been working steadily for years and age hasn’t stopped them. As I’ve grown in my career I’ve discovered that my interest in performing is also awakening my interest in being creative elsewhere: writing, producing, maybe directing, maybe even game design. These days rather than realize that the clock is ticking as an actor and a VO, I’m looking to expand my horizons. How do I do this? NETWORKING! I’m getting to know all kinds of people in other areas of entertainment like music composers, game designers, coders, writers, producers, directors, and on and on. I don’t look at who is more likely to get my foot in the door, but more of what can I learn from their experience. If I die before accomplishing any of my dreams, I can at least look back and know that I tried and hopefully inspire other generations to do the same. Morgan Freeman is a great example. He’s been acting since he was a child, but believe it or not, he didn’t get full recognition until he was in his 40s-50s. He didn’t stop learning and didn’t stop believing in himself.
It’s hard work, all of it. Wouldn’t it be great to have a mother, father, aunt, uncle, cousin, brother or sister or grandparent working in this industry? They could open doors in a heartbeat. A lot of times they do. But even that can backfire. One actress I know of has a terrific fan base, has close to one hundred thousand followers on Twitter and worked on incredible projects. Yet her ticket in was through her brother because of how established he was in the industry. This actress has earned her place with respect due to proven talen; at the same time, it’s not surprising to see quite a few trolls on the internet blasting the fact that she got in through nepotism. But folks, that’s life. It’s not going to change, ever! Get over it! You can spend hours on the internet griping about a situation you can’t control or move on and work on YOUR potential success, if you want it. If it takes a long time, then embrace the journey. Acknowledge how far you’ve come. In the end people will admire you for it and look up to you instead of bashing your name on forums for getting in through nepotism. Read books, take Udemy courses, watch tutorials on YouTube, attend workshops, listen to podcasts, audition for plays, be an extra in movies, TV and film, get to know ALL kinds of people, even production assistants! Take criticism with a grain of salt and move forward with the promise of continuing to learn. You might surprise yourself with results.
Now, I’m blunt in my posts nowadays because this business is blunt. It’s unfair, it’s ruthless, it’s not for the faint of heart, it’s tough to break into, but also, not impossible. It depends on you. If you don’t make it on Hollywood, make it happen in hometown. YouTube is all the rage now. Even celebrities have YouTube pages just to keep up with what’s current in the world. Make a short film, sing a cover version of a well-known song, open your mind and be creative with your skills.
At the same time, expect criticism and trolls because they’re everywhere and not going away. If some people give you genuine, helpful advice, take it! If others put you down, shrug your shoulders and move on.
***This post was written last Friday which also was the day I received some devastating news in the VO community. A “Pay To Play” site known as Voices dot com bought Voicebank. I don’t want to go into the subject too much but if you need to read more about this and why it’s bad news then start by visiting these sites: