What a question, huh? Well, I actually think it’s an important one. Please read “The Real Deal,” by Jamie Rose, before continuing on in this post. I don’t want to rehash it, but my post is essentially a reply, and I’m going to assume you’ve read it.
I want to start by saying that I think the OP had genuinely good intentions in writing her article and that she wanted to inspire people. I am not here to criticize her. I just don’t agree with what she’s ultimately saying. I’m all for encouraging and inspiring people, but we can inspire people without telling them, “This is what you want? Ok, it’s yours.” While she may not have intended it, the post suggests that all you need to consider yourself an Actor is the will and the heart. So basically just about anyone who has the slightest interest in acting, and does so on occasion, can consider themselves an Actor. Really? That’s quite unfortunate in my opinion. I believe that you have to earn the right to call yourself an Actor.
I give a lot of examples from time to time from other career paths because I think they’re relevant. This time is no exception. First let me give you an example from my own life. I have a degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. And I used to work as a Research Scientist. Despite this fact, I no longer refer to myself as a Research Scientist – I’m not one anymore. Continuing to use the title, would be disrespectful to the active Research Scientists out there. You may do your own taxes, pay the bills, and take care of the budget – that doesn’t make you a Financial Analyst or an Accountant. You may have your own website and create all the graphics – that doesn’t make you an Internet Marketer or a Graphic Designer. You may take really good care of your friends, your spouse, and your kids when they are sick – that doesn’t make you a Doctor. That’s an extreme example, but I hope you get the point I’m trying to make. Just because you occasionally do or used to do something, doesn’t make it your profession, and it doesn’t give you the right to tell people that it is. In fact, if you go around telling people you’re a Doctor, when you’re not, you may end up getting arrested and will most certainly irritate the scores of Doctors out there who really are, in fact, Doctors. Those guys and gals worked HARD to earn the rights to the title of Doctor!
I think we can probably all agree that it’s offensive when someone goes around pretending to be something without putting all the work in. Why should it be any different when it comes to Actors? The term Actor gets thrown around all too often and it ends up diluting what it really means to BE an Actor. Like that guy down the street who once worked as an extra for the Big Hollywood Movie in town, and now tells everyone he meets that he’s an Actor. That guy isn’t an Actor. Or the girl who 20 years later still runs around bragging about the time she played Juliet in the High School Play – not an Actor.
I agree with Jamie when she says having the will and having heart are important – they most certainly are! You can’t be an Actor without them! But I also think it takes a little more than that. It takes talent. It takes training. It takes being able to handle loads of rejection and walking into the next audition with your head held high and a smile on your face. Most importantly it takes dedication! This is what separates the “Real” Actors from those who just like the idea of adding the title to their moniker. Actors are dedicated to the craft of Acting! We work hard every single day! We pound the pavement, we send resume, after resume, after resume, we spend countless hours and money honing our skills. We live, sleep, eat, and breathe acting, many of us holding day jobs (just to get by) until the day we make it.
So you see, in my opinion, there IS such a thing as a “Real” Actor. And the title should only be bestowed upon those who work hard enough to deserve it. The "Real" answer is in your Actions! It is not just will and heart, but the dedicated and continued pursuit of a career in Acting, above all else, that makes someone a “Real” Actor. If that’s you, then wear the title proudly! And don’t let anyone tell you different. If not, please show your respect for those who embody what it means to be an Actor, by refraining from loosely throwing the title around.
Next Week: Bookings - Should You Kiss & Tell?