Acting Philosophy – Part 2

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Continuing Education

Let’s finish a few thoughts…

Dating!

You sometimes cannot put in a book certain things that are just part of being human. Line up all the contestants from The Bachelorette or The Bachelor, and though you might find several people physically attractive; if you were to go out with them a couple of times, very likely you would find yourself leaning towards one or two of the “candidates.” This, of course, is the whole point of the show. 

The acting profession is no different than that. 

Casting, like a dating app, can be subjective. Most times, it too relies on just looking at someone’s physical appearance and making a determination. The actual “dating” takes place if they call you in for an audition. Similarly, this process might also happen with potential representation. You submit to an agency. They like what they see and bring you in where you then get the chance to talk to somebody. 

In both worlds, casting and representation, they still have within them something very common in dating called timing. Think about it. How many times in your life did you meet someone and you were single but they were involved? Or vice versa? Maybe you both found each other as singles and were ready to mingle. Regardless, timing rules in Hollywood. Breaks happen all the time from people being in the right place at the right time. And if you dazzle on the first date, chances are you will be called back to another audition or to meet more partners at the agency. Conversely, the initial interest might wane or disappear altogether because, due to timing, someone just like you was in the right place, right time — before you.

That’s not rejection! 

But it is part of my overall acting philosophy that you have to embrace! If you don’t, it will kill you as an actor. 

You landed on this site and you see I’m Caucasian. News flash… not all of us look alike. And the same goes for African-Americans, Asians, Indians, Hispanics, etc. The hard truth in casting is that no matter how good you are, you could be the best actor out of the ten that they saw that day, some times things just don’t go your way. 

For example, raise your hand if you’ve auditioned for a five line co-star on a television show and you have network executives watching the recording of your audition, with  a couple of producers and director in the room with you. They soon realize you are clearly more talented than everybody else they’ve seen…

But…

there was someone there earlier in the day who’s just a little behind you talent-wise. But they look better for the part. They are the part. Guess what? 

They’re going to get the job nine times out of ten, and that doesn’t mean you were bad. 

It doesn’t mean you won’t be hired one day. However, some of us take that as rejection. Here we just need to look at the opportunity we had, that someone else now has. Wish them well! 

Whether you get the job or not, if you had a great audition, they’ll call you in again. 

Same thing happens in dating, right? Kinda sorta. We all know even if you have the perfect date, you might not see someone a second time. However, you take that moment, your confidence, the feelings, etc. and you channel that into the next opportunity. It’s like my Southern relatives once told me… “there’s a lid for every pot.” Getting a no, is the only way you’re going to get to more yesses. Be grateful that you showed something to get a date, or for our purposes, an audition.

While I’m at it...

Another philosophical element I’ll introduce here, is the inconvenient truth that being an actor can can easily become a convenient hobby. Since there’s no entry barrier, anyone can call themselves an actor. 

If I were to ask you to write down what it is you have to do to call yourself an actor, I’m confident would write something. For example, you might jot down that you attend an acting class or have a union card, but even though those are things that are a part of being an actor, none of them are actually required for you to call yourself an actor.

Interesting, right? The entertainment industry is a multi-billion dollar profession, and its only requirement for membership is you self-identifying as an actor and seeking out work.  

From a business standpoint, because this art, when you reconsider my aforementioned thought, if you want to make money as an actor, please make it a business — not a hobby! Though I have nothing against anybody treating it as such, just realize that to get something out of this profession, or anything else, you have to put in the time. Now, I know some people have all-consuming hobbies. If you’re one of those, then likely you’ll become pleasantly obsessed with getting better at the “business of show business.”

For most actors I consult, my first series of questions about their actor pursuit is what their weekly schedule looks like… What kind of time are they putting in to get better at the “business of show business?”

Keep in mind, there are many actors who don’t need me as their coach. They are laser-focused everyday to get work by whatever means necessary. It is not a hobby. It’s a calling. An inside-outside vocation which they will not let go. The fire burns inside them. 

In a competitve market like Los Angeles, just know that while you’re waiting tables to pay your bills, another actor is performing live theatre, sitting with an acting coach, making calls, planning the next day, etc. So I’m encouraging you to draft a foundational actor philosophy that works for you and satisfactorily gets you from here to there and whatever you want from this profession.

What is your starting point…?

Whether you become an actor in grade school, after college or just after retirement in another profession, I’m here to tell you throughout this blog, if you want this, the only stopping you will always be that face in the mirror. I got to Hollywood when I was twenty four. I thought I was too old. NEVER!

I’m here for you. I promise that for as hard as some of the actor realities I discuss are difficult to hear, they’re all based absolutely in unequivocal factual truth. They’re not something I read in a book one day. They’re not something I heard at an actor party.  No. 

My experience here came from meeting and then knowing hundreds of industry professionals in all entertainment positions, my own career downs and ups and more than two decades of working with my fellow actors. 

I’m here for you. Let’s get you where you want to go! 

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Kevin E. West