Something happens when you start to get older. It’s a gradual thing, so subtle that you probably won’t even notice. You’ll start saying phrases like this:
“If I had only started sooner…”
“I wish I could go back and do that thing…”
“If I were younger, I could…”
It’s a strange phenomenon of human psychology: People actually believe that once they’ve hit a certain age, certain opportunities are closed to them. I hear it all the time, when potential coaching clients say, “It’s far too late for me to be an actor. Maybe if I were 10 years younger.”
On Christmas day, I received an email from a gal who was asking this very same question. Let’s call her Zoe. Zoe wanted to know if she should even try to be an actress, because she was beginning at such an advanced age.
So how old was she? The ripe old age of fourteen.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so the maxim goes. But age is also in the eye of the beholder. It’s all about your beliefs, your perspective on reality. To use a cliché, life is what you make of it.
Set Some (Realistic) Goals
Here’s a big reason that aspiring actors think they’re too late to get started: They want to have their own sitcom on ABC, and they want it tomorrow. Or they want to be a star on the Disney Channel. (Don’t get me started on that one. We’ll be here all day.) They want unbridled success, and they want it yesterday.
And while it’s good to dream big, I would advise setting the bar a little lower. Especially if it’s your first rodeo.
For instance: When I started this website, I didn’t set out to be the next Backstage Magazine. That would be ridiculous. Backstage is an industry juggernaut, with hundreds of employees, ample resources, and a sterling reputation. It would take decades for me to build something like that by myself. What I CAN do is write a few blog posts a week, compose a few emails, instruct and inspire young actors to take charge of their career.
When I started Ace Your Audition, I set very realistic goals. And once I met those goals, I set new goals, building on the old ones. You should do the same. Instead of saying you want to be on the Disney Channel this time next year, here are some goals you might set:
“This year, I want to…
…be in three musicals.
…be in a local short film.
…take two dance classes every week.
…make 30 industry connections.”
See what I mean? These are practical, concrete objectives that can be accomplished in 365 days.
Start with the Theatre
Head over to Wikipedia and read the biography of almost any famous actor. You’ll quickly discover that they all started by working in the theatre. In fact, they credit their success with the skills and connections they nurtured while working in the theatre. And that’s exactly where you should start.
Why start in the theatre? Because it’s accessible. Unlike film and television production, theatre happens everywhere. You’d be hard-pressed to walk into a town where there isn’t at least one community theatre organization.
If you wanted to break into the biz via film or TV, you would have to…
• Move to a big city like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, or Sydney.
• Get an agent or manager who will commit to working with you for a couple years.
• Have a lot of money for headshots and other marketing materials.
• And be available for auditions on short notice, which means you can’t really hold down a steady job.
You get the picture? Stick to the theatre for now. And when it’s time, you can branch out to other mediums like voiceover, commercials, print work, and yes… TV and film.
Do It for the Love
Aspiring actors break into the industry for so many reasons. They want to express themselves, they love the attention, they think it will be really good money, they want to become famous. The list goes on. But there’s really only one reason you should EVER become an actor. And that’s because you’re passionate about it. Because you have a holistic, spiritual need to tell interesting and engaging stories. You should become an actor because it’s in your bones.
If you aspire to be an actor for any other reason, you won’t last very long. Trust me on this one, I’ve been around this business for a long time.
I know that’s probably some hard news to take, but hey! At least I’m being honest. Visit any other blog on the web and they’ll fill your head with pretty little lies about how you can be famous tomorrow if you buy this book, or that brand of dance shoes. But I’m not selling anything other than cold hard facts. My dear readers, you deserve the truth.
But don’t let that snuff out your dreams of success. The acting biz may be hard, but it’s not THAT hard. Getting ahead is not only possible, it’s probable. Especially if you keep the right attitude, have a great work ethic, and connect with the right people. You can do this! (Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.)
So What’s the Point, Adam?
My point is this: It’s never too late to begin your acting career. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what your financial situation is, or what adversity you’re up against. Just start. Start slow. But start.
One thing is for certain: No matter how old you are today, you’re running out of time. So go get ‘em.
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