Why Acting Must Be a Need, Not a Want

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  • Why Acting Must Be a Need, Not a Want

    If you want to become an actor, then don’t become an actor. It must be a NEED, not a WANT!

    (by Jim Webb)


    (Photo: Kal Visuals/Unsplash)

    It’s great to want to become an actor. It’s great to want to become a famous movie star. It’s great to want to earn $1 million just for appearing in a few scenes of a movie. It’s great to want to be on the cover of magazines, impressing all your old friends from high school. It’s great to want the glitz and glam that goes along with reaching the heights of Hollywood.

  • It’s great to want these things. But, if you’re wise, it’s better to leave these ideas in your deepest fantasies. It’s better to simply imagine yourself on the big screen, making those millions, rather than actually pursuing it. Because if you want to become an actor, but don’t need to become an actor, then you are likely wasting your time. You are very likely to fail.

    Consider these grim statistics:

    • According to SAG-AFTRA, the median income for a working actor is $52,000. Of course, this number is skewed by the salaries of big-name actors.

    • Most SAG-AFTRA members earn less than $7,000 annually from acting work. Non-union actors usually fare even worse.

    • Only about 5% of SAG-AFTRA actors earn more than $100,000

    For every 1 actor who succeeds, there are hundreds, even thousands who failed.

  • Some people refer to Hollywood as the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. When it comes to the entertainment industry, in particular, the name certainly fits.  These statistics are a stark reminder that the life of the average actor is not one of glitz and glamour. It’s a life of hard work and struggle; a life of sacrifice and willpower; a life of patience and persistence.

    If you only want it, but don’t need it, you will likely give up when all the talent agents you were seeking out for representation turn you down.

    If you only want it, but don’t need it, you will likely give up when you get your tenth callback but, once again, fail to book a job.

    If you only want it, but don’t need it, you will likely give up when all your actor friends are working, but you haven’t had a paid gig in over a year.

    If you only want it, but don’t need it, you will likely call it quits on your 40th birthday, when you find yourself still waiting tables and hoping for that big break.

    If you only want it, but don’t need it, you will likely throw in the towel when you get evicted from your apartment, the crappy apartment you hated to begin with, when you fall two months behind on your rent and your landlord refuses to grant you an extension.

    Get the idea? All of these challenges make it easier for an actor with “wants” to walk away from the craft. It is only the actor who has an absolute “need” to become an actor who is capable of surviving the overwhelming obstacles.

    The entertainment business can be fascinating for anyone. The allure of fame and fortune, adulation and power, can make anyone want it. But it’s the need, not the want, that gets an actor through the hardships one must overcome to achieve all the glorious trappings that come with success.


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