THE SEVEN ACTING MYTHS
by Bob Fraser
Myth #1 – YOU HAVE TO START YOUNG
This commonly held belief is far from the truth. Although starting young will certainly give you more time to perfect your craft, many stars have started “late.”
Phyllis Diller started her career at age 38 after raising a family and spending almost twenty years as a newspaper writer. Richard Farnsworth was over fifty before he began his acting career. When he won an Academy Award nomination for his role in Comes a Horseman, it came as a surprise to many in the industry that this ‘newcomer’ had been around since the ’30’s – as a stuntman.
There are literally hundreds of these examples. No matter how old you are, if you love it – TRY.
Myth #2 – IF YOU HAVE TALENT … YOU WILL MAKE IT
Although it’s important to have some talent, any reasonable observer can point to dozens of successful actors who might be considered ‘talent challenged.’ In fact, depending on talent alone is a strategy for disaster. There are many other skills (mostly business skills) that lead to success as an actor. If you’re talented, great. But don’t depend on your gifts for success. It’s mostly hard work.
Myth #3 – AN ACTOR MUST BE OUTGOING
Not at all. In fact, I’d say that the opposite is closer to the truth. Most of the stars you watch and enjoy are basically shy people. It is under the cover of a role that actors seem to be demonstrative. If you are shy or retiring, you are like most successful actors. Don’t sweat it.
Myth #4 – ACTING CLASS WILL RUIN YOUR NATURALNESS
Wow, this one is really off base. In fact, without some training it is unlikely you will get to the top ranks of the acting profession. Agents look for training. Casting directors look for it. And it goes without saying that education has rarely hurt anybody.
Myth #5 – HAVING AN AGENT GUARANTEES YOU WILL WORK
There is no doubt that having a salesman for your acting business is beneficial – but signing with a good agent rarely happens before you have already achieved some level of success.
Actors who think an agent will automatically get them to the top, rarely get there. Agents are not magicians – they are salespeople who develop leads for your acting business.
Myth #6 – YOU CAN BECOME AN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS
This almost never happens. In fact, a brief study of the careers of very successful actors will convince you that the average time it takes to get into the ranks of regularly employed actors is about 9 years. Like becoming any sort of professional (doctor, lawyer, architect) this is a business that takes time to accomplish.
That’s why they call it ‘paying your dues.’
Myth #7 – ACTORS MAKE THE BIG BUCKS
No. This is totally wrong. Sure some do … and their salaries are publicized to the skies. But the reality is that the large majority of actors make very small paychecks and they don’t make them very often. Go to SAG’s website and see the statistics. Just making a decent living as an actor is a huge challenge.
Bottom line: Don’t go into acting for the money. If you want to act, do it. And do it for money as often as possible. But don’t kid yourself … this is hard work and the pay is nothing to write home about – unless you have the tenacity, business skills, and work ethic to get to the very top.
I hope you do.
Here’s some good advice from the cadets at West Point:
RISK more than others think is safe.
CARE more than others think is wise.
DREAM more than others think is practical.
EXPECT more than others think is possible.
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THE SEVEN ACTING MYTHS