I am very lucky that I have never not been supported at any stage of my acting career, by those who matter the most to me. I’m very aware that that’s not the case for everyone, so we’ll explore the sadness of being unsupported with your acting dreams and find out what you can do when people are making you feel bad for not taking the “usual career route”, whatever that is…
The next 25 years..
As we know society expects us to go to school, college, uni, get a good job, get a mortgage, settle down, have children and live life in bliss knowing that for the next 25 years our mortgage will be paid off brick by brick all whilst living for the weekend, following the usual Monday Morning blues and getting giddy for 5pm Friday when you can blow your brains out.
Sounds nice doesn’t it? Maybe for the average person yes, but for actors… that’s our idea of hell. The usual career is like prison to us, we feel trapped and scream inside to be doing more, to be living life purposefully on our terms… creatively. All we dream of is being happy day after day in different roles, feeling the twinges of nerves before the curtains open, or being on different locations and hearing the words action.
I’ve come to realise that actors love freedom and we have something more to share with the world. As Alan Rickman said
“actors are agents of change. A film, a piece of theatre, a piece of music or a book can make the difference. It can change the word”.
We can change the world God damn it!!
Tell that to your parents or friends though; Alan Rickman says I can change the world…. cue tumbleweed…
Nice sentiment, however that “slush” doesn’t pay the bills according to those who are less than supportive, and the next 25 years for us actors looks more like toil, struggle, living hand to mouth with a life of financial poverty. Ah money… I’ll come back to that shortly.
Your future’s written in the stars
So I shared with you that I’ve never encountered unsupportive people, but I have encountered negative people and according to them they knew my fate, probably the same way your family and/or friends apparently do too – “What do you want to be an actor for?”, “You’ll never make it as an actor” are just a couple of the beautiful comments I received. Luckily for me I didn’t care about these people and their comments just gave me motivation, but it’s different when it’s someone you care about who doesn’t support you.
The sadness of being unsupported with your acting dreams
My Granny wanted to be an actress, she started off doing am dram, where she got bitten by that infectious acting bug. She got write ups in the local press saying “Watch out for this young lady, she will go far”… Sadly her Dad was very unsupportive of her acting dreams and told her in no uncertain terms she had to “get a proper job”. Ouch!
What is it that stops our friends and family from supporting us?
It boils down to two things
FEAR and MONEY.
We live in a society that is so driven by money how could it not be about that! I should reassure you that it comes from a place of love; our nearest and dearest don’t want to see us struggle financially they want us to be happy, and whilst that is very nice of them, our idea of happiness as actors is different. Yes it goes against the norm but that is perfectly ok.
What you have to understand with fear is that society on the whole has been conditioned with this idea that following the usual route is normal and that following an acting career is unusual because of its unpredictability. Unpredictability can be a scary thing for those who are not used to it, for those who like the security of how their life is shaping out.
We actors are resilient, courageous and like Chameleons, we learn to adapt to our circumstances, we not only live moment to moment through our characters but in our day to day life too. Just because something isn’t set out in stone doesn’t make it scary, in fact I think that’s part of the thrill of being an actor, the challenge of keeping things going makes us feel more alive than the average person in their predictable 9-5 job.
What should you do?
Back to my Granny – she now has dementia and of course one of the things she remembers vividly are her days in am dram dreaming of becoming a professional actor. I know deep down that she regrets listening to her Dad. Her eyes light up when she recalls getting people to help her with her lines and them not delivering the other characters lines back to her properly, or recalling being on stage.
This is a dream my Granny has carried with her all her life, she’s now 74 and her short term memory is deteriorating. She couldn’t become an actor now with all the help in the world because she would struggle to remember anything about the character, her lines or her action, but she can definitely remember the regret. That feeling will never leave.
Whilst others are being unsupportive, you always have a choice. Like my Granny you can listen to them and fit in nicely with society, or you can take the risk and see whether it pays off…
Will you play by others rules or do what is right for you? Only you know what the answer is to that.
Let me know if this has resonated with you in the comments box below.
Here’s to your success!
Don’t give up, just keep learning
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