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Will Act for Health Care

In the most recent Seattle Intensive (Actorswork) workshop, we were asked to name a fear we hold about acting. Instantly, I thought of some of the risks within film work, such as:

  •  Lack of control when your performance is chopped up in the editing room
  •  Fear of others’ perceptions of you as a person, (sometimes because of how a performance is edited)
  •  Fear that the film will be badly finished, impacting your career marketability
  •  Fear that your Grandma will see that one love scene

All valid. I battle all of these. But this time, my greatest fear wasn’t “bad” characters or villains or challenging roles or editors I don’t trust… My biggest fear was “acting as commerce.”

My greatest fear may baffle most actors: acting for money. Specifically, I mean having to take a job I’d otherwise pass on, just for the paycheck.

I recently read about an actor who takes his roles based on whether or not healthcare is provided. He may have been a tad tongue-in-cheek but there’s still truth at the core. This discussion isn’t the merits healthcare, it’s why we act.

Acting for me is completely different from a “job.” When I sign on, I want it to be with a mixture of joy and terror, the inward tug of knowing I’m beginning an adventure. And I want it to pay, don’t misunderstand me! But I don’t want a paying gig first, and a compelling gig second. As Amy Poehler hinted during the Golden Globes …


The journey has highs and lows. You’ll be swamped with work one month, and then you’ll realize a certain casting director hasn’t asked for you in a year (gulp – true story).  Sometimes you have to take jobs that aren’t exactly winning material – that dry teleprompter-laden training video, for example. Or heck, a national commercial (!) for fast food that you loathe, but it pays your rent for a year.

I just know that I’m an actor because I’m a compassionate, emotional individual who loves to connect deeply. I want that to always be the driving force behind why I take (or don’t take) an acting gig. Most importantly, I need to trust that as long as I am true to myself, the right gigs will continue to find me.



The Artist

If you told me a year ago that a black and white silent film that featured dancing (but no Nazis) would sweep the Oscars, I’d call you a naive dreamer, a fool, a hopeless romantic.

Just one of the reasons I’m so happy the Artist won Best Picture of 2011, is that as the germ of an idea, it was the biggest risk to make. Can you guess how many studios would look at this script and greenlight it? Hollywood is risk-averse, and this film flies in the face of every convention.

“I knew because it was silent and black and white it would be different and original,” Langmann said backstage after receiving the best picture Oscar. “All the weaknesses in the beginning became strengths.” – Thomas Langmann, Producer

The  night I saw The Artist, I left the theatre with a song in my heart. The performances were sincere, the homage to the era harmonious, and best of all its story transported me – as all good art should. I laughed. I lost my breath at a few of the most beautiful set-ups. I shed tears. And I wanted to run home as quickly as possible (tap dancing the whole way) to hug my dog.

Congratulations to the makers. May we all be lucky enough to have our impossible dreams be realized on the silver screen!


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