It can certainly be a journey into frustration when pursuing an art form. Probably the most dangerous thing is to have it be your passion and your love in life. We’re told that taking bold chances in this art form is noble and needed, so we take that huge risk and dive into that commitment and passion. That passion and love is what keeps us going. It’s what lets us grit our teeth and say “I won’t give up no matter what.” Unfortunately the time has come…. You should quit acting.
You world will fall apart. You will cry maybe. You’ll think you’ve wasted all this time and are no good at anything. But it’s time for you to quit and do something else.
Now let me be clear: This post is not intended for absolutely everyone. You probably are hoping and figuring it’s not aimed at you. Well…. it’s only aimed at those people who are not already finding the success that they want in their acting career. What is that success defined as for you? Making a living doing only acting jobs? Getting your SAG card. Just having people resect your acting abilities? Moving from just commercials into doing TV & Film as well? If any one of those is your goal, and you have not achieved it yet- then this post is aimed at you. It’s time to quit. Please, give up, cause it’s not gonna happen. For real.
Now, I’d say that what I really mean is that you have to stop “acting” in order for your ACTING to be more connected and real and honest and organic and RELEASED.
But that’s not far enough.
You should pretty much just quit all together. You’ve heard it said that acting is all about letting go. Release. Now it would be great to find that “sweet spot” of release where our acting is pure and open, but we can still retain all those goals and hopes and dreams and passion for the art. Unfortunately to find true release, it may very well feel like you are quitting on EVERYTHING. It can be painful. It might make you cry. But for many actors the only way to “let go” – is to also let go of all that passion and love of acting, all the goals, all the preconceived notions of what success is, even all the preconceived notions of what “good acting” is. Then you can really find a more pure release and just allow yourself to focus on the simple necessities at hand in the story. No longer will you showcase your acting skills or search for the path to achieve some goal in your acting career.
If you have not read “Zen in the Art of Archery” definitely pick it up and give it a read. Or a re-read. Not the most ground breaking book in the world, and a bit thick and dull for the first 1/3, but certainly a perspective any artist should be exposed to. Gotta let go of that target. A lot of doing that is letting go of that passion and love that wrap us up in goals unfortunately. You can’t get ahead of yourself and try to visualize the glory of what it will be as an art form when you’ve “arrived”. And I think that when you do “arrive” — the Actor that exists now would look upon that place of arrival and say “Seriously!?! This is it?!? I though it would be far more full of passion and glory! This is a bit boring!”. But it will wonderfully effective and interesting for your AUDIENCE.
But that’s of no concern to you because you’ve quit.
So don’t quit showing up to class or auditions or jobs. Don’t quit getting on stage or on set. Just quit all goals and potential for a FUTURE in acting. Just show up. Change from the “passionate artist” mentality to the “blue collar worker” mentality for a while so that you just focus on the simple bare minimum story telling beats, and present them in as absolutely un-obtrusive fashion. Just show them the writer’s stuff. No need to showcase or promote any of you “acting” stuff.
Stop focusing on how to perform the spot well- in fact take ALL of your focus AWAY from the performance and put it ALL on getting the story beats and going SIMPLE. Put the focus on NOT performing. People way to often think the solution to fixing overacting is to focus on making the acting BETTER- – – that’s deadly. The focus should in fact be on NOT ACTING. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to be in the moment more, or be more organic or more connected so that it moves from being “acted” to being “real”. It’s not real. Never will be. It’s a story. And you gotta tell that story.
It will feel like you are quitting. It will feel like you are giving up trying. And that feels wrong. But it’s the best thing to do. The goal you have in your mind of what you want to attain in your performance abilities? – – – – that needs to change. Quit on that. Give up on that. And you can’t just play mind games and read stuff like this and say to yourself “‘yeah- I agree. I will quit trying so much,” and fool yourself into thinking you’re quitting. You gotta really quit. It has to break your heart.
If you love acting the worst possible wall to come up against in life is the time when you finally decide to quit and do something else instead. You give up on your dream. We are taught in all the shows and movies we’ve ever seen is that dreams are the most important things in life. We don’t want to give up on our dreams or we feel like a major part of us dies. In some ways though- dreams are baloney. They’re not real.
Wanna stop acting too big? Wanna stop failing at your goals? Here’s the deal… Get rid of the goals. Get rid of those magical dreams. Die a little bit. Quit acting. EXACTLY like it would be if you were to quit acting altogether. You gotta give up. Quit.
It will feel EXACTLY like quitting forever, because that is in fact what you’ll be doing. By doing so you’ll be quitting on all of the pathways that have not been working. You’ll quit on that final vision –that final dream — cause it doesn’t exist. Success is actually gonna be found in an entirely different place that MAY not be as exciting….Your acting will not be what you had thought acting was… But you gotta give yourself the opportunity of at least exploring it. Don’t try the same path over and over if it keeps dead ending.
Wow- to really quit acting. That’s even more dangerous and risky than being passionate about acting. You ready to break your heart?
– Sean Bradley