I meet people all the time who say that acting is their life’s dream and the No. 1 priority but they are just too busy to take an acting class, audition, or look for representation. Some say if they can’t do anything 100 percent they don’t want to start and try it at all. Others say they took a class or looked for representation, but when something didn’t work out they just became too discouraged to continue trying.
The interesting thing is that even though these folks have either postponed or completely stopped working toward their dreams, they still say that acting is their No. 1 priority—their dream. But it’s not what a person says, it’s what they do that demonstrates the truth.
I think there are a few different reasons for this disparity between wanting something and doing what it takes to get it, but I believe most reasons are related to fear: If you never really try to succeed you can’t really fail. We all have some level of fear and if we aren’t aware of it we can’t overcome it.
First you should courageously ask yourself: Do I really want to act? The soul-searching honest answer may be that you are attached to the fantasy more than the reality. Because if the answer to this question is yes, the next question must be, What do I need to do to act? The answer to this is a real reality check. Are you willing to prioritize the work that is required to become excellent; work in any way possible to support that process; make the personal sacrifices necessary; and remove all obstacles with a fully committed spirit? Because if you aren’t, you might be attached to the idea of acting—not the reality.
I am currently doing a role on “Law and Order: SVU” and am repeatedly amazed at Mariska Hargitay’s inspirational attitude and level of commitment. She has worked for 16 years on this show and still approaches every scene with fresh creativity and enthusiasm. She has said when she started her career she was told that she had to become “more committed.” At the time she heard this, she wasn’t really aware she wasn’t fully committed, but once she understood what complete commitment required, she turned a corner and from that point on she started moving forward facing each challenge, removing every obstacle, getting up and trying again, and always improving. And the result is that her dream became a reality. She is an extraordinary actor who applies this level of commitment to everything in her life from her acting to her world changing foundation The Joyful a Heart. Not everyone can achieve her level of success, but everyone can be in the process of pursuing their dreams. And if we do that—if we are doing what we love—then we are truly successful.
So, acting: Is it your dream or are you making it your reality?