Okay I know I got pretty deep with this blog heading, but I’ve been teaching for a few years now and this topic keeps arising – not only for my students, but through many years of experience of my own. I had so many expectations. Sure, acting was in my blood. I was good at it. But I got so carried away with the outcome of success, that I simply forgot my love of the craft.
Many people tell me that they’ve always wanted to be an actor. From childhood they were creating stories and inventing fantastical worlds where they became the hero or the villain in their imaginary story. Then one day they graduated from school and they had to make a choice which career path to take. Deep inside there was a longing to take an acting class, but being the good daughter or the good son, they did what their parents wanted instead.
Parents are well-meaning and only want to see their children survive in a difficult world. It’s tough for a parent to support an artistic dream because it is so unstable. No one can tell you if you will get an acting job for sure, or if you will have an ongoing long-term career as an actor. And yet something inside of you speaks louder than anything else. Your heart and stomach turn with feelings of really wanting….needing to be an actor. You set about to quiet this intrusive voice and feeling so that you can get on with it and not disappoint your parents.
What makes a person need to act is a feeling in their heart, in their gut, deep in their stomach.
So… you become the lawyer or get a good stable job at the bank or in some corporate office. Every day you go to work but something inside of you is not right. You know somehow that you do not belong there.
I have seen so many intelligent, hard working people in their late 20’s, early 30’s or 40’s come to my studio for an acting class only to tell me the above was their story. And that this longing, this need inside of them is still in their blood. They took their parents path but now they realize they must take their own.
What makes a person want to be an actor is as varied as the folks who come to see me. But it is always an internal need. Achievement towards stardom and fortune is never the reason someone needs to be an actor. No talented, successful actor has ever started their career wanting fame and fortune.
Some people have a strong need for expression. Some are shy and can’t come out of themselves. Many people tell me they want to heal through acting. Some people feel they have a need to open up more to their feelings. Some need to be creative and open up their imaginations.
I’ve had some people tell me that their lives have been so emotionally painful that they need a safe place to put all of their feelings. There are people who have suffered great losses or suffered growing up in a family where the atmosphere was cold, without physical affection, without feeling. These people feel repressed and cut off from intimacy. There are people who have been harassed or humiliated or even abused and acting becomes a cathartic healing process for them. When we act, we change our relationships to these emotions in a healthier way.
There are people who are in a rut in their lives. They don’t feel the energy of life. Their life force is dulled. They no longer feel the creative energy running through their veins. They are yearning for a creative outlet. They yearn for a tribe.
You may recognize yourself in one of these stories.
Acting is a healthy outlet for those that need it. If fame and fortune follows, great. But it is not a results oriented journey. If you make it that, you lose the point of it.