On Acting and Failure

Having a little break from scheduled programming this week, apologies for that, but this is something that’s been playing around in and on my mind recently.

As I’m sure most of you know I’m an actress, at the moment I’m on an intensive one-year actor/industry training course aiming to not only expand my acting skills but give me practical knowledge of the performing arts industry, how to fund myself, get an agent and so on.

I’ve just started my second attempt at getting into a drama school, I auditioned last year with no results and am now trying for the second time. I don’t expect to get in this year either- not because I’m not good, but because the ratio of applicants to places is completely insane.

I could write a whole article on how hellish my profession is, I could terrify you with statistics and numbers but I’m not going to- instead I’m going to tell you about the mentality of being an actor.

This has all come about as one of the guys on my course has just revealed that he lied about getting a recall in his drama school auditions last year, he’d said that he got a few recalls when he actually hadn’t gotten anything. He said that he lied because he felt ashamed and embarrassed. As well as this we’ve also recently been discussing the peer pressure to go to university.

I didn’t get a recall last year, from the five schools that I auditioned to I got nothing but polite rejections, I had some good chats with the audition panels, was told by RADA not to go to university but keep trying the drama school route, which was quite comforting.. I’ve never been anything other than plain and honest about my acting career I don’t feel ashamed about getting rejected.

The industry that I work in is horrible and brutal, I don’t try to dress up what I do, the stage has cost me a lot of things- namely relationships- but ultimately it’s my soulmate, and I’ll never walk away from it. It’s been weird going to auditions this year and hearing the people younger than me flinch at the amount of hours they’d be made to work if they got in or talk about how if they don’t get in they’ll just go to university- I’m not saying that this is a bad decision, honestly the last thing I want to do here is condemn that as it’s a choice I may make at the end of this academic year, but it highly makes me question their commitment.

If you’re going into this career path you need to be tough, tough as hell. You need to be able to stand on your own two feet and flip the birdie to the rest of the world. You have to be totally independent and know yourself inside and out. I’m not ashamed of any part of my past- there are things that I’ve done that I’m not proud of, there are things that I view as highly, highly personal and would never share with others… but I’m not ashamed of those things. However much of a mistake I think they were and however much I regret them I’m not ashamed of them.

Recently I’ve started to open up about my problems, I don’t talk about them at all- but I’ve started telling people that I’m mentally ill (obviously when I feel it’s relevant) and I’m finding it incredibly liberating. Acting has helped me so much to accept every little corner of myself, I have to accept my limitations and work with them, the experiences in my past give me invaluable life experience that make me a much better actress, they give me perspective and maturity.

If you want to be an actor then prepare to fail, prepare to get hurt and more hurt, prepare for serious and constant rejection. You have to want this more than air, more than anything you’ve ever wanted before- your whole body has to ache for this… or you can walk away now.

You can pretend to be someone else all you like, you can project an image that isn’t you and lie about your successes but at the end of the day you’re a fake. There’s no shame in failing, there’s no shame in falling down. Own your failures and your successes because they make you a better person.

’til next time,

Wren x

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