Patience

I had three different potential column topics in mind earlier this week, and as I’ll sometimes do when I can’t “feel” on my own which one is the “next best column,” I bounced ’em off my husband. When I got to this topic, “Patience,” he said, “That’s the one you have to do, because it goes perfectly with Just Get Better and 100% Accountability. I mean, it’s just like you’re always saying about how showbiz is like weightloss. It takes hard work and discipline over time. Those are the three things: hard work (Just Get Better) and discipline (100% Accountability) over time (Patience).” Dang. Good work, honey. I hadn’t even thought of that!

So, patience it is. Sucks being patient, doesn’t it? What’s that great line from Postcards from the Edge? “Instant gratification takes too long.” Amen, sister! But patience — endurance, surviving attrition, knowing when a wave of “I Quit-i-tis” is just actor funk and when it’s a reason to pack it in and go home, all of that — is one of the most important elements to success in this industry.

First, an email I want to share with you.

Bon,

Thought of a funny addendum to this piece you wrote that seemed to really catch fire. I read the hardcore bitter response (from that anonymous actor) that you printed, too.

Maybe the real advice for many struggling Hollywood actors is…

Just Get Better LOOKING!!!

Ha ha ha, okay, that may seem a little bitter as well, but seriously, couldn’t that be the answer for a lot of us?? Sure, there are many character actors who work and not every single actor that books a job is spectacularly good-looking, but the vast majority of the most consistently booking actors are simply fantastically gifted… genetically.

I don’t let this aspect of our industry let me off the hook as far as “doing everything you can,” because of course if you’re not “hot” then yes, you do have to write, self-produce, get creative, and sell your shit on the web and out of the trunk of your car, etc. But it does help me regain perspective on the business as a whole, the fact that it is the most superficial and shallow field that can still legitimately be called a profession! It helps me step back, shake my head, laugh, and go back to my writing.

Also, do people think they just have to make all those efforts for a couple of months, and then they’ll be on a series? It’s easy to be swayed by all that Access Hollywood crap, but the truth is perhaps many actors don’t realize they have to do ALL this stuff for a LONG time to see results.

πŸ™‚ Miki Yamashita

PS — To the bitter actor guy: “I have to be a writer now?” Um, YES.

Okay, so, I love Miki and she’s hilarious as always. But I want to focus on that last full paragraph about the spin they sell us on the shows about fame and the famous. E! True Hollywood Story is a blast to watch, but it often dwarfs the process of “discovery” actors go through, as publicists love to make it sound as if their clients stepped off a bus, went on an audition, and a year later are thanking the Academy. It’s good spin. It’s SPIN, though. Except for a very few folks who really do find their success on a lightning-fast path that has little to do with “how it really happens” for the vast majority of those who ever do find fame (or working actor-dom), it takes years, nay, decades, to see your talent, your business savvy, your relationship-building pay off. And even then, it may be a lousy return on investment of the hours you’ve actually put in.

But that begs the question: Do you care? If the answer to the question, “What do I have to do to MAKE IT?” is, “Work really, really hard for years and years, meeting as many people as you can, branding yourself well, being as talented as you possibly can be, and being a sublime pleasure to know and work with so that you’re ready when that possible opportunity comes along,” does that mean you’ll choose not to pursue a career in show business? Is that reality — plus the fact that some people will not have to work as hard as you to have ridiculously more successful turns at this career — enough to send you packing? If so, good. It’s that whole Actor Darwinism thing I love to talk about. And every day, someone is giving up the dream. Or pursuing another one. Nothing wrong with that. It makes the pursuit a more pleasure-filled experience for everyone who remains, when those whose hearts don’t sing about every flippin’ crazy element of the pursuit get out of the way.

No, I’m not delusional enough to believe that birds chirp and we walk on clouds and slide on rainbows every moment, ever. No matter what we do, that’s a hard status to maintain. Life is life, after all. But have fun, wouldja? This is gonna take awhile. You’ll be really talented, incredibly lucky, maybe even fantastically good-looking, meeting all of the “right” people, and working your ass off and it’ll still take time.

Being patient isn’t easy. Sitting around thinking up what to blame for why something isn’t working or how unfair this business is, that’s pretty easy. But it’s not going to make you feel better, ultimately. Temporarily, sure. But not for the long haul (which is how long you’re in this thing, if you’re serious about it).

What might occasionally make you feel better about this whole process is being patient, having fun, and controlling those things that you can control. And remembering that success takes hard work and discipline over time.

So, do you buy that? Does patience help soothe the sore spots you hit, in this career pursuit? Hit me up in the comments. I’d love to know what you think!


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/001044.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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