We all know it. There are a whole lot of artist wanna-bes. This month I was in Beverly Hills for a number of evening events with famed chef Thomas Keller. I was having lunch one day and I couldn’t help but to overhear a group of men talking about actors. One remarked that Hollywood, as the hub of the film, TV, and the music industry, must have the highest number of broken dreams per capita.
He went on to say that he has met so many who announce themselves as actors but they really haven’t, and don’t, do much. They exert a minimal amount of effort, taking occasional acting lessons, and inconsistently going on auditions, to maintain a thin veneer of identity as an actor. And it’s really the identity that they’re invested in, not the diligence required to be an actor.
Then he said there are a few actors who are relentlessly pursuing their career. Doing whatever it takes, without complaint, because they are committed, they will not be dissuaded, and they are talented. They accept rejection as par for the course.
It sounded all too familiar.
During my events in Beverly Hills an actor was hired to assist me. He shared his experience as an actor in Hollywood. We mused about whether it was more difficult to achieve success as an actor or as a painter. I maintained that he had a tougher road because his industry was even more scarcity and permission based. Without having your Actor’s Guild card, the number of auditions you can go to is limited. And without the right part, fulfilling specific criteria, you can’t get your card. A vicious circle.
The next day I met a patron, who is also a friend, for lunch at the famed Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel and we sat among they Hollywood glittered and saw a number of recognizable faces. I thought of my actor assistant and I was struck by the limits of his opportunities. But when I decided to become a painter, the limits of the art world did not daunt me. I thought only of how I could create more value to set myself apart.