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Mastering the Business of Acting
Is Being An Actor Fun?
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Is Being An Actor Fun?

career advice Dec 16, 2021

Is Being An Actor Fun?

This is one of those questions that’s easy to answer. The line by Daenerys in Game of Thrones comes to mind: “We all enjoy what we’re good at.”

If you have talent and you're a good actor, of course you love being an actor. You get to perform, you get respect, the limelight, admiration, etc. 

This begs the question: why wouldn't being an actor be a great thing?

In this post, I’ll talk about my career and shed some light on the ups and downs actors will face on their own journeys. While there’s no job like acting, it’s important to help set expectations to make your career the best it can be.

 Avenue lined with palm trees at sunset, with the Hollywood sign in the background

 

Acting Careers Have Highs and Lows

 

Let’s revisit this question from the opposite side of the spectrum: what if you’re not the greatest actor around? Or, what if you just started your journey and you’re barely getting by?

In these circumstances, this profession is not going to be much fun. Most successful actors' passion for their craft will last three to five years. Then they get to a stage where bitterness overcomes them.

Unfortunately, it can take years to get out of that funk. They start to become resentful towards the business and everything about it. Until they can get past this stage, they can no longer see acting objectively for what it is.

 

I Learned About Myself Through My Acting Career

 

So is being an actor fun? I can only speak from my perspective; in this industry, they would consider me a successful actor and I can say that I have loved every minute of it.

When I was studying acting as a kid from 13-20, I thought I would be great in any role. I loved acting so much that I could never identify a time where I was bored with it except on two occasions.

One moment was when I attended the American Conservatory Theater. I had come down with Hepatitis for eating clams and I was in the play Love’s Labour’s Lost by Shakespeare in a supporting role. At first, I thought it was only the illness, but it turned out that my disdain for Shakespeare's comedy made me realize that not all roles are necessarily right for you.

In fact, I hated every minute of that production from rehearsal, to performing, to the end of the run. I'm sure everybody involved was glad when it was done and not just because they were scared of catching hepatitis from me.

 

"Challenging actors is the key to driving their success and passion"

 

The second time that I didn’t care for working as an actor was on an episode of NYPD Blues. I guest-starred on the show and had to say many lines in Cantonese. I am not a fluent Cantonese speaker: some of the lines I was given, I’d never said out loud in that language. I was sitting on set with a tape recorder in hand trying to learn Cantonese. I felt like a fraud and I hated it. 

Other than those two instances, I have nothing but love for being an actor. I love everything about this profession, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

But as with many roles I've had throughout my career, I will say that going “backward'' in the industry is really difficult. The roles I have gotten offered more recently, I’m not particularly fond of. It inevitably happens to most successful actors. We don't like to go backward or do something we’ve already done. Challenging actors is the key to driving their success and passion.

 

The Truth About A Career In Acting

 

Out of my ten years of seriously studying acting with over 64 acting teachers, there were only two or three occasions I recall where we discussed the “truth about acting”. All they ever said was that this career is very hard because you spend 90% of your time auditioning and 10% actually working. Then just as today, there are only a few classes about auditioning available.

More than that, they don’t get down to the nitty-gritty of the business side of acting because, again, you can’t teach something you don’t know. This is part of the reason why I created my online acting class Mastering the Business of Acting (MBA). The seven episodes go way more in-depth on this topic than I even could in a blog post. 

I truly consider acting to be one of the toughest professions that I know of. And I believe it really has to do with the lack of education available to those who are interested in acting. If the schools had done what I did with MBA, I believe they would create an additional 20% chance of success for actors. It's tough because there’s no guidance out there.

What you see on TV and interviews are mostly success stories because everybody wants to hear those. Yet no one really shows how the success story came to be and, if they do, they only explain snippets of the entire story.

Let’s walk through an example: the silliest thing about our business is when you go to a restaurant and you ask a waiter what they do besides wait tables, they might say they’re an actor. Then you ask what experience they have and they say nothing because they just got to LA.

How can they call themselves an actor if they have no schooling, no experience, no education?

If you meet a surgeon, you know for sure they have extensive experience and education. Why should actors be any different? They should all have a proper background dealing with this industry to be able to include themselves in our profession. All the tools to get there should become way more widely available so they have a fair chance.  

 

"I truly consider acting to be one of the toughest professions that I know of. And I believe it has to do with the lack of education available to those who are interested"

 

Give Your Acting Dreams The Best Shot

 

My advice? Go to the best schools you can, get your finances in order, get to LA. Hopefully, your schools have connections to reps and put you in the best showcases. Give yourself 10 years to go after it. Drive is going to be your biggest key; you must be driven.

Somewhere along the line, luck and opportunity will knock and you’ve got to be ready for that. Let’s say you get your break, and you’re looking for the next bigger one. By then, you should know how to behave like a star and how to handle stardom. The most difficult thing about being a successful actor is maintaining that status.

I personally had that status for 10 years and I can say it was difficult to sustain. In my time, there was a glass ceiling that Asian actors could not break through, and with the lack of guidance I had, I didn't break it. My crutch was being Asian at the wrong time. Unfortunately, many others will tell you the same thing. 

These days, competition is more fierce than ever. There are too many available actors and too few jobs. So make sure you really want this, and work harder than you ever have to make something happen.

 

So Again, Is Being An Actor Fun?

 

Back to the original questions: yes, being an actor is fun. I love acting and I always will. It's the most satisfying part of being in the entertainment industry for me. I love it so much I will not compromise it ever again.

The truth is, this profession is extremely difficult to get into. You have to be crazy, passionate, consider it your first love, and treat it like a marriage. If you can accept all that, how can you not see it as the most wonderful thing in your life?

Anyone who has or has had an acting career will look at their career as their child. If you’re looking for me to expose acting as a horrible career choice, I can’t do that for you. Acting has opened so many doors and opportunities, and has introduced me to so many people.

All the qualities that make me who I am, the good and the bad, all come from acting and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. It is what it is. 

There's More to Acting Than "Acting"

With the right knowledge in hand, you can reach the next level in Hollywood. Purchase "Mastering the Business of Acting" today.

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