Beware Career Advice from Family During the Holidays
A few key things to consider when being confronted by doubting family members this holiday season
(by Carmichael Phillips)
Going home for the holidays can be a social minefield for actors, sometimes. It can be replete with uncomfortable stares, snide remarks, embarrassing questions and probing interrogations from family members.
That’s because our profession is very difficult to understand, for those who don’t live the #actorslife. We toil and sweat for many years for little pay. Big opportunities are few and far between.
“Just don’t give up” (Molly Shannon)
Finding just one major opportunity could take years. And when we find a good potential opportunity, we must compete with hundreds of other actors who also desperately want that chance.
Your parents, siblings and extended family members typically have a hard time wrapping their brains around the idea that anyone would want to do what we do as actors. They wonder, why would we risk our future for a dream? Why would we work so hard for a “fantasy” that may never come true? Why would we not just get a safe, secure job, instead?
Questions like these can eventually turn into social pressure, even coercion.
Going back to your hometown to see your doubting family members shouldn’t be so difficult. And it doesn’t have to be if you keep your wits about you.
Here are a few key things to consider when being confronted by doubting family members this holiday season:
Career advice from family members outside the industry is often based on ignorance
That’s not to say that they are stupid. It just means, people who don’t live the #actorslife can’t possibly understand the struggle. Career advice from someone who doesn’t understand your career should always be taken with a grain of salt.
Just as you wouldn’t take a stock tip from someone who’s never invested in the stock market, you shouldn’t listen to negative attitudes about your acting career from people who’ve never been actors. That includes family members and friends.
Remember: people who don’t understand your dreams can’t tell you how to make them come true, can they?
Career advice from family members is often selfish
Your parents, for example, might have imagined you’d grow up to become a doctor or lawyer or business professional. They had a certain vision for how your life was going to go, from the day you were born. They never dreamed you’d grow up to be a starving artist, pursuing a professional acting career.
Their advice, while well-meaning, is not necessarily based on their desire to understand your passion for acting; your inextinguishable hunger to create and perform characters.
Instead, advice from family members about your career is often designed for you to fulfill their vision for your life, rather than your vision for your life.
Sure, they love you. But when it comes to your career and future, they can also be a bit selfish.
Career advice from family members can sometimes be self-serving
If you moved from your hometown to a major acting market like Los Angeles or New York, you naturally leave behind a giant social hole in the lives of your family members. They don’t see you as often as they used to. They, perhaps, don’t enjoy the same connection and bond with you that they used to enjoy.
Remember: People who don’t understand your dreams can’t tell you how to make them come true, can they?________________________________________________________________________________________________
In other words, they miss you! Their advice will naturally be shaped by a longing to see you as often as they used to.
For instance, they’re recommendation that you move back home and get a job might be self-serving; having more to do with their desire to be nearer to you than their desire to see you get a traditional job.
Of course, this kind of self-serving advice is especially true if you are an older actor and your parents are eager for you to start a family and produce grandchildren for them to play with and spoil. But, again, it’s important to remember that this advice, while well-meaning is also, self-serving. It serves their interests, not yours.
So be mindful of this, as you go home to see your family members over the holidays! Hug them. Cherish them. And be thankful that they care about you and want to give you advice that they think will help you in your career.
Just remember that their advice is not always the best advice.
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