In order to be a working actor, you must first get real with the idea that acting is work! You have to work at it to be good enough to work in it. And I see time and again that in this field, probably more than any other, or let’s just say arts in general, people want the quick fix, or the fastest way to do it without really having to be troubled by training, etc. I see people go through so much struggle trying to duck under the actual work of taking the classes, learning the scripts, working on their reading, perhaps even on their writing skills.
Actors should work on basic acting exercises. Every serious actor should do some each day. I guarantee you that every serious musician practices daily. You need to explore the vast, training mortalities that will bring you to a level of Art with your acting. I want to let my actors know that it’s not about, “Pie in the sky!”. Its not about skipping steps. My experience in life is that whatever steps you’re able to skip, you will have to go back and take, regardless. And people beat themselves up so much and have so much anxiety and depression over their Art, because they believe they can just get it in the Jack In The Box drive-thru method. You don’t really have to stop and be conscious…and BOOM! there you are, a fully fledged celebrity actor, just ‘cause you got a pretty face. We tend to think actors just came about, and they were just brilliant, cool and lucky.
It’s interesting to study some of the history of actors. I recently studied James Dean and saw a documentary of him. It was startling to see how much actual acting work he had done to get to his natural performance. And he also lived life: worked on a farm, did basic human things that strengthened him as an actor. People in this industry think it’s just who you know or how well you know them, and so they’ll socialize endlessly and go to parties, but won’t be in class. In acting, you have to be good with your health, good with your voice, your emotions must be balanced, you have to be able to dress the part, love the part. Grooming is important. You should exercise daily, do breathing routines, go to acting class, work as an ensemble with other people. And in addition to that, network and know people in the business and think about your marketing and work towards presenting yourself professionally.
So, in terms of Aesop’s fables, it is the tortoise who wins this race, rather than the hare because the things you develop in this way will take you to the next film or project. Whereas, the people who just think about it in terms of the parties and the people they know will be the flash and burn types who occasionally may land something, but will find it very difficult to restart for their next appearance.