It’s so easy to feel like one is late in getting to the party with so many actors who made it because they started as children. And managers and agents are always going to try to convince you to just get out there and not waste any more time. But every now and then, you’ll come across an excellent casting director who wants nothing to do with actors who haven’t taken their training seriously. I’m thinking of someone in New York who blasts actors who don’t train or those who list a series of short workshops on their resumes in lieu of real training.
But life is long. And believe me when I tell you that if you are 21 and already feel like you can’t commit to longer term training that if, in doing so, you really get good then you will end up surpassing all the other actors who rush out into the world because they want to “try their skills in real-life situations” (sounds good, right? wrong) before they are ready. At 34 you may look back and realize you’d never have made it if you hadn’t committed to that two-year program. At 40 you’ll realize how much it still means to you and if you’re still doing extra work then you’ll feel really dumb that you could’ve gone through that training ten times since you rushed out at 20.
Yes, you DO have to hurry up and get out there AND you have to be brilliant. So try to slow down a little and be thoughtful and take a deep breath and work slow and steady. And take time off. I recently spoke to a grad who told me things were going so much better since he relaxed and let the universe guide him a bit. But also use career coaches to guide you. Make a five-year plan. But know that we frequently don’t or rather we can’t get done all that we hope to. But if you are ambitious and have a strong work ethic, your work will take you somewhere. And class time counts as work. Learning any new skill that will help you as an actor counts as work.
Managing your relationship to time, not falling apart during the slow times or neglecting important growth opportunities during the busy times are some of the hardest things about living an actor’s life. It is a balancing act. Balance it by building confidence. Build confidence by putting one good block on top of another. And train like an athlete. Think like an athlete. You cannot afford to get soft. You cannot whine. You’ve got to get stronger and better. And you have to put in time.