Do You Really Want to be an Actor?

It’s time to dispel some myths!

Acting is easy

It’s hard work, and it’s extremely competitive.  If you are easily discouraged: this is not the field for you. If you can’t take criticism: you should explore another career. If you are self-conscious about your appearance: this is definitely not the path you should take. Actors not only need to be able to work hard, but they also need to be able to work well with people of varying backgrounds and personalities. Taking harsh criticism and experiencing rejection is an everyday occurrence for an actor. You need to have a thick skin, and be able to listen.

Acting is a calling

There is nothing special or divine about being an actor.  It’s a job just like any other.  Treating acting like a calling is just an excuse for lazy actors to keep calling themselves actors even when it’s been years since their last acting job.

The best actors are all “naturals” and don’t need any training

The handful of talented and successful untrained actors is the exception that proves the rule. The greatest actors from Olivier to Ralph Fiennes to Marilyn Monroe and Angela Bassett all received extensive training and continued to train throughout their careers. Training enhances your talent and gives an actor the tools to be able to sustain a career on stage and screen.

Actors must be thin and beautiful

Look, it definitely helps to be stunningly beautiful, but you can carve out a successful career even if you don’t look like a supermodel. It’s important to know and understand your type (something we’ll discuss in detail later) A film or play or television show is a snap shot of the world and the world contains people of all shapes, sizes and colors.

So now that we’ve dispelled a few myths, it’s time for a quiz! The quizzes are designed to help you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses and help you define the next steps in your career.

Do you want to be an actor or movie star?

So many people go into the business for the wrong reasons or they think that success as an actor is all about the accumulation of wealth. The fact is that most actors are far from wealthy, and it is important to define how you measure success.

1. Which is more important to you?

a. taking on challenging roles
b. having a role (of any size) in a big budget feature film
c. walking the red carpet at major Hollywood events
d. proving your haters wrong when you become successful

2. Which actor’s career is most like the one you wish to have?

a. Will Smith
b. Jackie Chan
c. Anthony Mackie
d. Wilmer Valderrama

3. Besides acting, what other job would like to take on?

a. Something creative
b. Medicine or maybe the law
c. A job that is very hands on
d. A cushy desk job
e. I couldn’t do anything else except acting

Responses: Give yourself points for the answers as follows.

1. a. 1 b. 2 c. 3 d. 4
2. a. 3    b. 4 c. 1 d. 2
3. a. 1 b. 1 c. 1 d. 2 e. e. 4

The Results:

A score of 9-12 means that you are probably more interested in the fame and fortune or you are not realistic about the day-to-day struggles of an acting career. I suggest finding a different path, or if you really want to act and you are able to see your career realistically, maybe you should take a step back for now and develop some interests. Read, see the world, learn to cook, and then take another step into the acting world.

A score of 5- 8 means that you have some of the right mindset, but you still need to develop a little before you will be ready to start a successful acting career. I suggest you look at your definition of success and see if you can broaden it to include goals outside of your career. What makes you happy besides acting? If you can’t think of anything then you should find something, your happiness should not be tied exclusively to your work.

A score of 4 or lower means that you are on the right path. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders and even though you have big goals, you understand that success and fulfillment do not necessarily lie in your next acting job.

19 thoughts on “Do You Really Want to be an Actor?

  1. gusscharr says:

    Destiny Lilly…where have you been all my life?! LOL
    Fantastic articleS (I’ve read ALL of your posts…and will CONTINUE to read them and use them as tools for my “actor reality checks”).
    The answer choices for the first question each describe what my “motivation” was at different ages along my career:

    proving your haters wrong when you become successful (my early 20s)

    walking the red carpet at major Hollywood events (my late 20s to early 30s)

    having a role (of any size) in a big budget feature film (my mid to late 30s, exasperation, “I’m too old, maybe it’s time to quit” phase.

    taking on challenging roles – This is me NOW, 44, feeling like a kid at play with every role, realizing that it took 20 years of life experiences and multiple careers in the “civilian” world to FINALLY learn who I am, what I was made for, and all I have in my arsenal to give a character other than technique. Hey, call me a late bloomer or Liam Neeson…take a pick! Too old to play? NEVER! 😉
    Thank you Lilly!
    -Gus Scharr (check out my YouTube channel GUSSCHARR)

  2. Melvin Mandich says:

    This is nice but I have a practical question that goes beyond this and all the general suggestions about going to casting calls, and specifically calls for paid work, to have a career like any other job. How do we get called?
    Casting calls do not just fall into struggling laps.
    In fact, what I have heard is that there are no casting calls for meaningful (chance at money) roles, unless you are SAG/AFTRA.
    In LA, for instance, I was told there are so many talents that you must be union to be auditioned for any speaking role.
    So, if I am SAG eligible because of a fluke call for a TV commercial years ago, would it be true to say I should just get a job doing anything that pays like street sweeping or burger frying and pay the fee and join the union and THEN send out the headshots and postcards to agents and casting directors and not until then? It does not help to sell messages of hope to non-unions that they will go on casting calls for film auditions when the chance is really less than 1%. In fact it is cruel.

  3. Destiny Lilly says:

    For most actors it can take a lot of time and effort to get consistent paying work. One true thing about the business is that it really is about who you know (and even then it often does not happen). Actors need to build their network and constantly make connections with other actors, directors, producers, casting directors, writers and everyone involved in the business. Taking classes and going to film screenings can be just as important as auditioning because most significant roles that pay will not be advertised to unrepresneted, non-union actors unless the producer is looking for something very specific that is difficult to find. Everyone’s financial situation is different, so I can’t suggest what you should do while looking for paying acting jobs. I can only suggest that you find something that you enjoy because so many actors become miserable and jaded because they have soul sucking day jobs.

    You also might want to build your résumé by doing student films, shorts, web videos, and other no or low paying projects. These projects can offer meaty roles to non-union actors. Today’s students are tomorrow’s professionals and many student films and shorts go on to festivals where your work may be noticed by people in the industry. As for joining the union, only you can decide if you are ready for that step, but there are a lot of talented people in SAG-AFTRA and just being in the union is not enough. Other agents and CDs may disagree with me, but I think mailings are rarely helpful. I run a small business, and I do not have time to go through all the mail I get. If you are looking for paid roles in fully budgeted films you will need good representation, and to get that representation it takes a body of work as well as a recommendation from a teacher, CD, or manager as well as luck and timing.
    Finally, I don’t sell false hope to anyone. I actually encourage people to examine their choices. No one is forcing you or anyone else to pursue this career.

  4. victor says:

    I am a nigerian who bas always want to be an actor of mind blowing action films as a nigerian army and i know that nolly wood has nothing. Of my kind,so. I like. To make it forieng. But. I don’t know how to start so pls i need people like ur company to help me out.

  5. Akuete Nsimba PEREIRA says:

    i think acting is really a good job, it helps people to learn about situations, real life, and beyond… but at the same time it amuses people and divert them from their common life monotony.
    we all have some talent, some people are good at writing for example, and some others are good at materialising writing stories in such beautiful movies, and so on…

  6. Onyii says:

    I,m 18 and i want to be an actor because in my dream,s i usually see my self acting that make,s me to believe that acting is my talent

  7. Marihilda says:

    Hi my name is marihilda mojica I’m Mexican colonbian with big dreams.right now I am attending berbizon in San Francisco California .its a school for acting and modeling, been an actor it’s my dream I’m working hard to became a good actor , also I’m an artist I paint oil painting..well long storie short I love art and I know art is acting..

  8. Queen says:

    I always dream of being an actress and i believe in myself.I want a role any role i’m up for a challenge in any movie,drama or sopie.Iam 18years old female

  9. Emmy says:

    I’m only 14, but I have always wanted to become an actress. It is my dream, not because of the fame, but because of the challenge it would be and because it is a lot of fun for me. I really enjoy acting.

  10. Joselyn rojas says:

    Hi my name is Joselyn Rojas I’m 11 years old. The reason why I want to be a actress is because I love drama I sign up for all the plays at my school. I also love watching movies that’s another thing why. I doesn’t madder if I get one or two lines I just want to be actress that’s my dream and it still will be if it doesn’t come true.

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