Hi Bonnie,

I’m writing to you in hopes of soliciting some advice from a voice I have come to trust over the last couple of weeks. This past May, I graduated from college with a degree in political science and have been spending all of my time since then trying to answer the question: “What do I want to do with my life?”

There is a problem with this scenario however, as the only way I can ever answer this question is: “Movie star.” Unfortunately, I never really considered acting as a viable career choice; it always seemed to be up there with “astronaut” and “pro athlete” in the pantheon of career choices kids dream about but slowly have beaten out of them by practicality and realism.

And so I arrive at this point in my life, feeling like I have wasted my life in not ever pursuing that which I find myself wanting to do more than ever. My most recent acting experience was playing Doody in Grease in the 8th grade. So my question is this: How would you advise someone who very seriously wants to pursue a future in acting to get started at a relatively late stage in life? I’m 24 years old, and willing to work as hard as I have to. The obvious solution would seem to be to go back to school to study acting, but after six years as an undergrad, money has become an issue.

I had surgery the other day to repair the labrum in my right shoulder and have been spending the bulk of my rest and recovery time reading your website almost exclusively. I particularly enjoy the “inside the business” insight provided and with each article I read, my resolve to pursue my dreams is strengthened. I apologize for the length of this email and will now attempt to cut it short by saying thank you for taking the time to read this far, and I appreciate the resource you have made available to myself and people like me.

Ben White

Hi Ben. Thanks for writing. And here’s to a speedy recovery from your recent surgery! So glad you’ve been using the time to read up on past columns here and get really ready to charge forward with your career as an actor.

Let me back up. I’m assuming you want to be an actor. I read your words. I know you want to be a “movie star,” and that you mentioned those words in the same context as “astronaut” and “pro athlete,” so I’m going to assume that your choice to even consider a career in acting means you’ve come to grips with the reality that being “movie star” is not something you choose to do, when selecting a career path. What happens is, you select the career of “acting” and then hope that the stars line up with you, your talent, your professionalism, your look, your type, your geographical situation, your relationships, and your willingness to endure an awful lot of hard work while letting luck play a part as well. Then maybe you could be on the path to being a movie star.

Not sure. Even movie stars will tell you there’s no one recipe for how they got to where they ended up (and most of them know there’s no way to know how long they’ll get to stay in that coveted place).

Since you’re not lying around scanning the pages of People Magazine but instead are reading my columns — and especially since you’re enjoying the business side of my rants and tales — I’m willing to bet you’re aware of the work ahead for you. Good. That’s step one.

Step two is to read this column and then this one and then this one. Oh, and this one too. Yeah, you could (and some would say “should”) read all of them, but start with those four to be sure you’re ready.

Next, you mentioned your age and the concept of going back to school. You don’t have to go back to school and actors have started way later in life than 24 and reached amazing levels of success (and, much more importantly, happiness following their dreams).

So, your FIRST assignment after following steps one and two, above, is to experience a paradigm shift in which you begin to embrace that this career choice is something that anyone can hop into without experience, without youth on his side. Yeah, I know, that annoys the folks with the experience and commitment since birth, but that’s what makes this career choice so dang alluring: Anyone can take a shot at it. So, now it’s time for you to take yours. Good.

Once you’ve decided that you really can do this, and that you’re sure you’re up for the work that pursuing a career in acting entails (again, refer back to the above-linked columns for the blow-by-blow), just get to it! Get in a great ongoing class, grab a Backstage and scour Actors Access for open calls and opportunities to submit and audition, read everything you can get your hands on, and get to work!

It’s easy to talk yourself out of being ready to try it. But if you’re really supposed to be doing this, it’s impossible to talk yourself out of anything other than doing it! Believe me!

Good luck to you. I wish you a speedy recovery and a wonderful road into working-actor-hood. Keep me posted on your journey!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000895.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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