I think I’m starting to become bitter about my success (or lack of it) as an actor.
Phew- that was a heavy confession to start off with, but it feels better to just get it out of my system. Yes, I am becoming bitter. As someone who likes to preach positivity, feeling bitter is not okay. I always knew this career would be hard, but it's harder in ways I never imagined. Being an adult that can live comfortably in this city is a feat in itself – add one of the most competitive careers on top of that and it’s easy to feel like a total and utter loser sometimes.
My bitterness has also been translating into a hyper-sensitivity when it comes to any negative feelings towards actors. I am so sick of the “diva” jokes, of the “us-v-them” mentality of the crew versus the cast, and I am sick of people acting as if it’s part of my job to fit into some pretty, petite-sized stereotype because it’s all apparently just part of being an actor. One time I went on an audition for a shampoo commercial. I rushed there on my lunch break, giving up the only time I had to eat for the chance at a nice paycheck and some exposure. When I got there, all they did was line up all of the girls and measure our waists. It was disgusting. This kind of crap makes me not even want to bother with auditions anymore.
There’s no glamour to this job, so when people act as if it’s part of my job to be pretty or thin I get so angry. Sometimes when I complain about the vanity side of the career, people respond with “Well, you wanted to be an actor.” Yes, I do want to be an actor… but since when did the definition of an actor mean I have to look a certain way? I wanted to be an actor because I saw a performance that made me feel something, and I decided I wanted to make people feel things as well. If you’re someone who wants the best for me, why would you tell me to accept things the way they are just because it’s apparently industry standard? If you think getting my waist measured was something I signed up for, you’re part of the problem.
Whenever someone asks me my type I want to roll my eyes and barf. I don’t know… Generic White Girl? How about you let me read a script and I’ll tell you if I can connect and relate to a character. If you just want me to pitch myself with a stereotype than I bet your project isn't very interesting. Defining yourself by a type just helps propel the whole vanity aspect of being an actor. And minority actors- they have it the worst. I may be just one of millions of generic white girls auditioning (which is a struggle in itself), but at least I’m not being called in just to play parts like “thug” or “terrorist” or “struggling single mother who pole-dances for money.”
This bitterness is a tool. It’s allowing me to recognize the things that I don’t find okay. It’s not okay to feel as if you’re defined by your looks. It’s not okay to accept that following your dreams means accepting someone else’s definition of the word beautiful. It’s not okay to go to a job interview and have your body measured and scrutinized. It’s not okay to assume that because I want to be an actor I have no respect for the craft of story-telling or for anyone else's job on set or backstage. Creating something takes collaboration. A good actor will be a team player as long as they aren't made to feel like something disposable. When you find a team of people who treat you with respect and are uncompromising in their artistic beliefs, it makes the struggle worth it. There's just a lot of shit to sift through on your search for artistic fulfillment.
An actor should be talented, not someone else’s idea of perfect. We live in a much more exciting and versatile world than Hollywood lets us believe. Story-tellers have a voice. Let's make it an honest one.