I get cast in a lot of clean-cut authority figure roles. A couple of weeks ago, I encountered an actor who told me that I was lucky, because he has a "criminal element" look to him (he did), and there weren't many roles for him. After giving him a MAJOR side-eye (like, dude, did you really just say that?), I named a few shows that cast his type on a weekly basis and suggested that he target them. He gave me more excuses. I stopped listening, and all of his "reasons to fail" droned on in the background like Charlie Brown's teacher. Yawn.
Since that exchange, I've been paying close attention to actors of diverse backgrounds in various stages of their careers, trying to suss out the differences between those who work and those who don't. It doesn't take long to see who is a diamond and who is a lump of coal. I'm not talking about talent, I am talking about PASSION! Those who are passionate seek out information for themselves, and do whatever they can do RIGHT NOW with what opportunities they have. Lumps of coal? Well, they're busy telling stories about why they CAN'T do this or that, and asking questions that they themselves could answer with a quick Google search.
I used to believe that it was my job to apply pressure to these lumps and "help" them to become diamonds. That frustrated the heck out of me. I'd get questions like "Can you send me a list of managers?" (um, how 'bout "NO"?) or emails saying "I need some information about the unions." (I kid you not.) People who aren't willing to do the basic work are not ready for this industry. Not right now.
I prefer to be in the company of diamonds who just need a little extra polishing: some encouragement, a few logistical adjustments, maybe even a referral (if they have enough sweat equity). Those who have survived the initial pressure of transforming from a lump of coal to a precious gem, and have no intention of leaving their brilliance to the whim of someone who may or may not answer their lazy email
requesting "a list of managers." Good luck with that.
Right this very moment, I personally know several working actors who fall into one or more of these categories:
- Work night jobs and audition during the day.
- Are single parents.
- Work 2 jobs in addition to acting.
- Are not "Hollywood" beautiful.
- Don't have representation.
- Have unreliable (or no) vehicles, and take public transportation to auditions (arriving ON TIME!)
- Have unsupportive partners/ spouses.
Individuals with REAL lives who are hustling and making things happen.
The lumps? They're waiting for their agent to do all of the work. Or complaining about how they can't get representation. They are worried about being typecast when they aren't even in position to be cast for anything.
The diamonds are taking chances and making their own luck. The lumps are begging for a chance and hoping for luck.
How do you think this turns out?