For the Love of Acting: Staying Inspired as an Actor
“Overcome the notion that you must be regular. It robs you of the chance to be extraordinary.” – Uta Hagen
You’d think writing an article on my love for acting would be one of the simplest tasks ever. But starting to write proved more difficult than you would have thought. How was I going to be able to put down into words the strong feelings and emotions I feel for something I think about every day? Then I realised that everything that’s great in the world has one thing in common: truth. So, in this article I’m not holding back. We’ve just had our most prominent awards ceremony, celebrating the greats in our industry. An event like this can be inspirational, but it can also be disheartening – you can feel like you still have such a long way to go before you “make it” as an actor. In the spirit of bringing us all together as performers, we can use this opportunity to reflect on why we love acting.
With every con, there is a pro
I don’t need to tell you how difficult this career path is that we’ve chosen! I realised while writing this article that the question all performers should ask themselves is: “Why do you want to do this?” The passion, mixed with the pain, sorrow, tears, sweat, lack of relationships, and untold sacrifices – it’s going to be tough. This all comes with the craft of acting but you need it to fuel your fire. To get up and be the best possible you each day, and not be clouded by the idea of the possible payoff. Whether it works out or not, you have to embrace the process. Every time there’s a downside, have faith that there will be an upside too!
Keep on learning
When I first think about why I wanted to become an actress, I think about how often I used to play make-believe as a child. Just to name a few creations: I was an astronaut, a ballerina, a tiger and - my personal favourite - Jane Bond. Thinking back to those times where I had no worries in the world and all that faced me was undiluted joy, I realised that is when I was at my most vulnerable and open. Any inhibitions I might have possessed were freed, leaving me at my most truthful. I hope you can recall all the times when you too were just as curious as you were when you used to play make-believe and create stories. That is the same mind set with which we should approach each role and story. Yes, facing new roles can be nerve-wracking, but it’s also liberating. It’s about exploration and discovering that pure truth, remembering there are no regrets in life, only lessons. We’re storytellers above all, and the story comes first.
Surround yourself with likeminded people
Shakespeare was onto something when he wrote, “The sight of lovers feedeth those in love.” When we see others doing something that gives them joy, it feeds our soul. Every day brings with it challenges and obstacles, but it also gifts us with opportunities to make it the most productive and/or life changing day for our futures. So, surround yourself with positive, supportive people - people who build you up instead of making you doubt or tear yourself down. There are always going to be people who cross your path, you just have to decide if they’re worth investing precious time in.
Remember your love for it
Shakespeare also wrote, “Speak low if you speak of love.” Yes, the context of this quote is a little different to where I’m going with this, but it’s relatable. I’ve been told many times before that I can love acting, but I should keep it quiet and follow a ‘real career.’ I’ve also asked myself, ‘Is there any other path of work that would genuinely make me happy?’ and the answer is and always has been no. There is nothing else in the world that can beat the adrenaline rush I feel when I’m on stage in front of a crowd, or the thrill that courses through my body when I hear ‘Action!’ (If you’re a performer reading this you’re most likely nodding your head and can recall that feeling.)
For anyone who’s ever wished I would have chosen another profession, I wish I could gift them that feeling - even for a second - because there’s nothing more I would love to share with people. It’s pure happiness and escapism in that moment. Those couple of lines are important, because for those moments we’re performing our problems don’t exist; any worries or qualms that are surrounding us at that time don’t matter and that is something I wouldn’t give up for the world.
I hope that after you read this, whatever range of emotions you’ve been feeling, I was able to help you remember why you want to keep working hard to achieve your dreams. Remember: you only have one life to live, so make sure you look back at your decisions in life with fondness, not regret at what could have been.
“I believe there’s an inner power that makes winners or losers. And the winners are the ones who really listen to the truth of their hearts.” – Sylvester Stallone
Header image credit: National Youth Theatre