acting Vs Life

  • Steve Campbell

    Actor

    Guys Im in need of your opinions For a while now I've been finding it hard going staying focused. Acting is what I love, and its what people tell me I'm good at. But the money just isnt coming in. And Im really questioning how long do I keep going. Though I feel about 18 inside age wise I guess I'm no longer the spring chicken. I look around me and I see all my friends(even some of the acting ones) settling down and having children, getting married, having security. And I'm thinking that I'm missing out on life by pursuing this so hard. Does anyone else feel like that?

    I know completely how tough it is to succeed but which way do u go - Do you ACCEPT the risk that you will always live at a poor level of income and keep acting OR do you GIVE IT your best shot for as long as you can and then move on?

    Possibly this may come across as a lack of true commitment to some people here but I feel the clock is ticking..

    This is where someone tells me that I'm feeling one of the hidden pleasures of acting..... :)

    Any thoughts out there?

    steve.x

    • 26th Jan 2006
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    Hey Steve,

    I absolutely know what you mean. It sounds a bit weird but as time goes on and like you i look around at my friends/family, i'm getting more and more scared...But every time i think about other options i come right back to where i started.

    I wouldn't be happy getting a 9-5 working in an office. But i think it depends on the individual.Of course settling down and having kids etc is something i plan to do, but when i do, i want to be happy in myself either having the success i want, or because i know i gave it my best shot for years until there was no way i could carry on.

    Basically i never wanna look back and think "What if?".

    So yes, i think we all feel the way you do at some point or another and some people more so than others but all these emotions can only add to and make us more passionate about what we do.

    There, i've said my bit! Hope it makes you realise you're not the only one out there feeling like you do!!

    B x

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Hi Steve,

    It is a hard question,coz it depends on where you want to be and what is your plan of action...

    I do feel the pressure,and when i look around me,i do strive sometimes for a more settled life,but let's be honest,even if that was happening,would that make me happy? Don't kwow...

    I know few very successfull actors who's got it all,wife,children,acting jobs...don't know the recipee though,but there's something that cannot lie and that is your instinct.

    If you feel it's time to try something else,and you're not driven by fear or any other negative feelings,that might be the right choice for you at the moment,and you could always come back to acting anyway.

    Sometimes we need to get out of the bussiness to do a better come back,acting can be overwhelming,and it's easy to feel swallowed up into the system...

    And the other hand,i will be carefull, sometimes when you feel you about to give up and that you can't take it anymore,it means the chance of your life is nearby and lots of people miss on that.

    Here i am writting a book...ah...anyway hope that helped or at least make you laugh.

    Melissax

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Blimey, Steve. Where do I start? Well as Barbara said, the last thing you want to do is look back in years time and think "what if I'd carried on?". Personally my motto is "I'd rather regret the things that I've done than the things that I haven't" and that is what made me quit my high paid IT job over 3 years ago to concentrate on an acting career.

    My lifestyle now couldn't be any more different than when I was working in IT. I was paid an obscene amount of money to do a job I hated. Now I'm paid a pittance to do a job that I love and, like Barbara, there's no way I could go back to doing a 9-5 job for the rest of my life. Sure the financial securities of a 'proper' job are attractive but at what cost? Every one of us on here is looking for something that a 9-5 job can't offer. We may all be in it for different reasons but ultimately we have a need to feed a creative side of us that the majority of 9-5 jobs wouldn't provide.

    I totally understand what you mean about feeling 18 inside but also being aware that the years are rolling on. I'm 36 and I look at all my 'normal' friends (I chuckled when I wrote that but what else can you call them?) and see that they're married with kids, settled in their jobs and have the security of knowing that their mortgage is paid and they have enough money to pay the bills. I'm pleased for them as they don't have the financial worries I do in an industry where cashflow is nigh on impossible to project. As any small business owner will tell you - cashflow is King. Having a regular income is key to surviving in this industry and no matter how you achieve it, whether through creative means or by working part-time in another field, having the security of knowing your bills will be paid will allow you to remain creative.

    The point is that whilst I know all my friends are settled in their lives and have financial security, I also know that there isn't one of them who wouldn't give it all up for one crack at their dream, whatever it may be. The difference is that each and every one of us on here had the guts to go for it.

    I think that instinctively you will know when it is time to call it a day. I'm not sure there's an obvious point at which it happens and everyone will be different but I think when you confront it you'll know. Forget what other people see as "a lack of true commitment". It's about knowing within yourself that you gave it everything you had and, for whatever reason, it didn't work.

    Let's get positive here, though. It's not going to happen, Steve. In 50 years time they'll be wheeling us out at BAFTA smelling of wee and moth balls to receive lifetime achievement awards and we'll look back on this and chuckle...and then ask someone to mush up our lobster thermador. How will this happen? By keeping the faith, for starters. By reminding ourselves why we got into this in the first place. By sourcing those alternative revenue streams that keep us from selling the Big Issue. By ensuring that when we get an audition we leave any emotional issues at the front door and that we don't smell of desperation. By staying in the industry and remaining positive and upbeat. By constantly learning. By coming onto message boards like this and talking to people. Let's face it, our 'normal' friends don't quite understand where we're at.

    This was meant to be a short post but there you go. I think so many of us who are closer to 40 than 21 all experience the same feelings and it's good to open up every now and then and share those feelings. God knows how many times I edited this message as I revealed a little bit too much but even submitting what I have has made me feel better having got it off my chest!

    Keep the faith.

    Mike

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 3
  • Hope McNamara

    Actor

    Hi Tomas,

    I think everyone asks themselves this question alot. It is such a difficult profession. It feels like a lottery sometimes. I am almost 30 (am I posting my age!!??!) and constantly feel like I am not where I want to be, that I should be having babies, etc etc.

    It has taken me a long time to find "something else" that brings in money, that I am relatively happy with so I can keep auditioning and working as an actor and singer. I teach now, not full time however, and it is something I avoided for a long time because I didn't want people to see me as uncommitted to what I call my real profession. Stupid really, as I have the skills for it, it is rewarding and it brings in money!!

    I personally think it is good to have other interests, something to "fall back on" as they say, or even just a hobby to keep you going. Otherwise you'll just get run into the ground out there!

    The money coming in also helps if you want to take classes. This is one of the best things to do when you are out of work because it means you are doing something to keep your actors mind/body/soul going! (My pitch for the Actor's Temple goes in here now...have a look at their webpage - www.actorstemple.com)

    Anyhow, I have written enough! More than 2cents worth really. Don't know if it will help, but I felt I wanted to share!!!

    xo Hope

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Hope McNamara

    Actor

    Just realised I called you Tomas and not Steve! Sorry! ....and it is nice to see other people felt like writing/typing in as well.

    xo Hope

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 5
  • Hope McNamara

    Actor

    Sorry. One last thing.

    Mike, you made me thing of a quote that I always remember because, well, of my name...

    It is from the movie Shawshank Redemption:

    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

    xo Hope

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 6
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    Whenever i ponder this question i ask myself what is the one thing that i want to achieve in my life? To me the most important thing is to be happy. I follow whatever it is that i know will make me happy. Acting or pursuing my "dream" motivates and makes me happy. That is all i need.

    I do look around me at friends who are starting to settle down and are able to afford "things," objects and the such. All it takes it a second before i remind myself what is more important to me and that is mental peace and happiness.

    I also quit a high paid management career to go back into acting (yes ive fit alot into my short life). Although i was excelling at my career, there was a large chunk of something missing. I was replacing happiness i get through pursuing acting with a shopping addiction, as i had an abundance of money! Somehow i thought the physical possesions would make up for things.

    Every time i wobble i think about what is important in my life and that i am far happier in what i am trying to do, i dont need possesions, i cant take them with me.

    The only thing we can be sure of in life is death, so the bit your alive for must be filled in the way you want it to be, whatever it is that you would like it to be filled with. I guess whats the most important thing you would like from life?? What makes you happy?

    Jenni x

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 7
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    I feel like this every now and then...

    It's easier for men as they don't have a biological clock on top of everything else!

    If I have to give up the opportunity of having a husband and kids then so be it... the knawing thing is that- what if you sacrifice it all and then you don't make it in the end!!

    That's the chance you got to take I suppose!

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Sally Beaumont

    Actor

    I think we all feel like this. There have been dark days when I've thought of jacking it in- but then I think I don't want to join the rat race. I also think a large part of me would be unsatisfied. I'm constantly meeting "normal" people who have a supressed creative side, and let it out however they can (usually with the caveat "I'm crazy, me!").

    One point though, which I find very useful is to think "If I carry on as I am, where will I be in five years time?". If the answer is "the same place, just five years older" you need to rethink.

    That doesn't mean giving up.

    I think that because our cashflow and career development aren't guaranteed, it can stop one from planning for the future and having goals (it certainly does me). That leads to a nebulous life of waiting and hoping, placing your happiness in the hands of strangers, and sitting by the phone.

    Even if you don't know in what order things are happening, you need to have goals- get an agent, do a show here, learn a new skill. It all helps with the feeling of control and a hand on your own destiny.

    A final thought, for anyone grounded by disappointment or lack of control:

    "When you take positive action, providence moves in your favour."

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Iona MacInnes

    Actor

    Hi Tomas, Im very much in the same situation as you. I gave up a 'good' job as a staff nurse to go and study acting. I qualified in '04 and have had 3 school tours since, which I was very happy with as they were in Scotland where Im based. My concern is that I havent had work since end of November and I refused point blank to do nursing shifts because Id get used to the good money agency nursing gives. And the fact that I hate nursing so much. I could jack in Acting altogether today and get a secure job with the NHS getting decent pay, sick pay, holiday pay and a pension, and a good pension at that. BUT, every morning when Id wake up Id be screaming blue murder coz I was going to work as a nurse. Id be ringing in sick for a night shift because the thought of it would make me ill. I couldnt go back to it, as much as it is security and as everyone else has said, and its the only thing that keeps me going is, would you be happy doing something else? I wouldnt. Some of my nursing friends who have worked up to charge nurse posts are on anti-depressant medication because of their jobs.

    Im going to give it another two years and if by then Im still floating between one theatre company and another then I am going to end my acting career. You do have to look at the bigger picture and having a pension sounds boring but it has to be considered in my oppinion. Money doesnt mean everything to me justnow, obviously, but when im 65-70, I want to have some comforts. Iona x

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Hi Iona,

    Being out of work since November (I assume we're talking about 2005 here) is not a long time at all.

    That's good going!

    Also, floating from one theatre company to the next is what being an actor is all about, sounds blissful to me!

    What were you hoping for?

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Shannon Thompson

    Actor

    Hello everyone!

    What a relief! I thought I was the only one! It is tough. I am constantly reminded by people not in the business "you've chosen the hardest profession to go into". It is true that the people you think are happy and sorted would give anything to have the courage to follow their own path and not be dragged along with the current. If you really ask them how they feel about their life you may get a reply you weren't expecting.

    Maybe we've chosen acting/performing because none of us are satisfied with the norm. It wouldn't hold our interest for any length of time. The juxtaposition that we find ourselves in on a daily basis, the grappling in our minds...should I stay or should I go now!! I often feel at 31, I'm last in the sack race on school sports day! Everyone else streaming ahead with their husbands/wives/children/decent regular income/creature comforts and me lumbering at the rear not quite sure if want to get to their finish line or not. I am constantly badgered by my family as to why I'm not settled and this is just more pressure not needed in an already stressful profession.

    Keep going. You never know what is around the corner. Keep going for as long as you feel the drive. I never want to be sat in my rocking chair beating myself with my own walking stick that I didn't try hard enough or do something that could have helped!

    I'm just reading a book at the mo called "Stop Thinking and Start Living". It's really quite good. It makes you realise that you are in control of your thoughts not the other way around. You say when the negative thinking stops and you instintively know when a thought should be dismissed before it is allowed to escalate into a feeling (usually negative)!!

    Anyway, hope this adds to this great discussion. Thanks for sharing everyone.

    Shannon

    XX

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Clifford Barry

    Actor

    hi Steve,

    The big problem is that, for the most part, actors are warm, intelligent people that could have been far better off financially doing practically anything else with their lives - I'm speaking as someone that's made a living as an actor for twenty years and I know that's certainly true in my case. Finding oneself a few years off 50, still tortured by ambition, while your non-acting friends are planning early retirement is quite sobering - but that's the gig and only you will know if it's a price worth paying. We all know how it feels because it nags away at all of us - it's certainly been there for me throughout those twenty years. Would I change? No, not for the world. Should I have changed? Ah now, that's a very different proposition.

    best of luck,

    Cliff

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Michael Dacre

    Actor

    Hi Tomas. I guess the critcal question is...do you have another choice? If an actor is who you are then this will realize itself despite all other attempts to change the situation. This is from the perspective of someone who has come to performing late (I'm 44), and was unable to do much else before but scrape by and acquire some learning.

    It's tough is't it?

    Best wishes.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 14
  • Michael Klesic

    Actor

    This is the age old question isn't it? "At what point to you give up chasing your dreams and get back to reality and get a normal job?"

    If it's in your heart to be an actor, there is nothing else in this world that you can do for a living that will make you happy. So why give up the pursuit?

    It takes 3 things to make it as an actor and these 3 things you must ask yourself if you have them. 1. Persistance 2. Talent 3. Luck

    Attitudes of not believing 100% that your destined for this line of work makes people fall out of it and do boring jobs for the rest of their life as a living. PERSISTANCE is what weeds out the actors that give it 1-4 years of their life and drop out, from those that dedicate their whole life to it. You must tell yourself that 10 years from now there is this killer role for you but you have to wait out all the others that fall out because of them coveting all that is normal in the world and wanting a comfortable life now, instead of a possible magical one later.

    If your parents and friends who are not in the business tell you how amazing of an actor you are but you never seem to get that quote from industry professionals unless you corner them in a hallway and they politely reply as such, then you need to question if you have TALENT. We all have our good TALENT days and bad. You should know when your on or off. And if your ON is great and you have the talent, then stick with it and read on.

    LUCK is a huge factor in this business and plays a part in every roll cast. Your LUCKY if the director you meet is casting a role that fits you perfectly. Your LUCKY when that agent just happens to be looking to fill his book with someone of your age and look. Your LUCKY period. Believe that. LUCK comes a knock'n in everyones' life from time to time. Stick around to recieve it.

    So, if you have the TALENT, and your PERSISTANT enough to stick in the business long enough, LUCK will come a knock'n and being LUCKY your TALENT will shine at the precise moment.

    The only variable factor in all this is TIME. When will it happen? I am not psychic so don't ask me.

    If you stick with acting, I applaud you. It is very hard to be persistant long enough before LUCK comes a knock'n. And it will. Time and time again.

    Pay no attention to others judgements on you sticking with acting. Sure they might be a great accountant and have a wonderful house and 2 beautiful kids and take a nice vacation once a year. But do you think when their school teacher asked them when they were 7 what they wanted to be when they grew up that they answered "Work behind the same desk every day and do peoples taxes for them and have a nice mortgage and 2 car payments?"

    Your seeking out your dream. They gave up on theirs. You have my applause. For anyone chasing their dreams nomatter what they are in this 1 life we have deserves acclaim.

    And when your on your death bed, you will be able to say you gave it your all and be able to pass away with a smile knowing that you 100% could/did, or could not make it in this business. How many people in the world have been able to say that?

    Good luck and kick some butt. These tough times your going through now are there to make you stronger and make you deserve success 100 times more. There is always a part out there for you. Bless the writers because they are creating one as you read this. It is just a matter of TIME before it gets produced.

    So "break someone elses leg" and accept the "GOOD LUCK", because that is what it takes.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 15
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    well put sir

    i doth my hat to you

    "if I had one"

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Simon Nader

    Actor

    Just responding to what Cliff said above - I find that really inspiring actually. Sorry to bring up your age again Cliff, but being nearly fifty and still going is a great thing to hear.

    As a few people have already said to you Steve, if you are happy doing this and it is what you really want, then I guess you stick it out for as long as you can bear being an actor. I know it is hard, and I feel it all the time, but I try to keep in mind that acting is one of the few careers when, however unlikely it can seem, a big pay day CAN just be round the corner and you can stick it out for just that little bit longer because of it.

    I won't presume to tell you what to do with all this, but even if you take a break from acting for a while, you can always come back another day. So you are never really stuck mate.

    All the best,

    Si

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Steve Campbell

    Actor

    WOW! Thanks everyone for all the comments. You have all given me a real boost. I'm usually the positive guy but we all have low moments. I guess acting is going to test you all the way isnt it? It's going to put you under pressure to see if your worth the rewards at the end.

    Everything that you have all said gives me strength but its the fear that I'm jeopardising my chance at having a settled life, having a family, having money to support you in retirement etc, to shoot for something so difficult.

    Not an easy thing to come to terms with but you have all given me much to think about so for that I thank you.

    All the best

    Steve.xx

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 18
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    Hi tomas,

    this is the first break I've had since graduating and I'm getting a real sense of how difficult this industry is. Whether it's getting an agent, affording to get show/voice Reels done etc...or even managing a relationship. For example, do you find a partner who is in the business who understands it and understands your drive or do you look for someone who is in a 'normal' job and who can support your 'dodgy' career!!, but will never quite know what drives you as an artist. On personal experience, at the start of your career, avoid other people who are starting theirs! You might see them every weekend if you're both touring...at best!

    It's a tough field but we all knew what we were getting ourselves into and I guess we just gotta get through the tough times and stick true to our career hoping and praying that life will take care of itself.

    Good discussion topic!

    Ben

    • 1st Jun 2006
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