So, as an actor, we get used to being blown off a lot. We are rarely told when we don’t get the job so much as just not getting a phone call telling us we’ve moved forward in the casting process.
There’s posed an interesting question as to when are we allowed to be upset by this? After how many call backs or audition redos is it okay to be slightly annoyed by the fact that we’re not getting a call.
We are often treated as disposable in this day and age where everyone wants to be an actor, where we manage to pull of this new genre of super realism without having to have someone be genuine or in the moment to simply stand in from of a camera and recite lines…
But this whole idea that anyone can act undercuts the truth of the artistry involved. Anyone can stand in front of a camera and just say lines, but not everyone can act.
That is what shows when you use a real actor.
I hesitate to use the word artist which is bandied about all too frequently in this world and shy more towards using the word craft to describe what we do. There is an art to it, a process, a journey, a result. We are storytellers and we know how to convey thoughts, ideas, feelings, and everything in between- but mostly we are taught to tell stories.
We are taught that everyone’s life is their own incredible journey and every moment in someone’s life can be brought to life and relived over and over again. We are taught to see their wants, needs, hopes and dreams at every turn- that there are no villains, but sometimes you find you’ve gotten so caught up in something you can’t see straight. Sometimes we are flat, hollow caricatures of people or sometimes we are rich tapestries that read like an open book, but, always, we are alive- living, breathing, screaming to be heard.
Anyone can read words on a piece of paper, but not everyone can take those words and create life with them.
That’s what we do as actors. Everyday, we attempt to play little gods and create life.
We do it because this wonderful thing that it is to be human requires storytellers. Its a basic human need that comes in as grand as epic fantasy movie trilogies and as simple as, “what happened at school today, honey?” “How was work today, darling?” We even create words for our animals to say.
Storytelling is part of something so coded in us that it needs to be honored.
Even when actors roamed the earth in traveling bands as outcasts to society, we still existed. We never gave up the calling.
So, is asking for a little respect too much? Are we fated to be treated as a dime a dozen as the stigmas against the lifestyle of actors turns to this idea of normalized glamour? The answer is that as actors, we are often asked to pretend to be other humans, but as humans ourselves we are often marginalized. I don’t think this is going to change anytime soon, but I do think that when you do choose to treat it as a craft and train constantly and grow your skills like a well kept garden that you become something to be recognized and cherished.
Acting is the art is experiencing what it is to be human, living and dying over and over again every day a thousand lives. We learn the human condition, we learn about ourselves and we learn about others. There are many things a true actor is, but none of them is disposable because no human is disposable.
If there is one thing the fine tuning of humanity has taught us, it is that everyone has a journey and a story to tell.