Dad, I’m Gonna be a Doctor…

Jan 14, 2010 by     No Comments    Posted under: Attitude, The business, Thousands of Stories

…I’m moving in right next to Johns Hopkins, and I’m gonna do “the doctor thing.” I’ve always dreamt of being a brain surgeon and it’s time for me to make my dream a reality. You always told me I could be anything I wanted. I’ve graduated high school and I’m giving it a year. If I’m not operating on brains by then I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. Wish me luck!

Think about someone saying that. I mean, actually saying that. How many milliseconds would you give them before you started laughing in their face at how utterly insane they sounded? Maybe like 2? The above statement is just as insane as moving to L.A. and giving yourself a year to get your own sitcom, or whatever the (unrealistic) goal is.

Part of the reason why the doctor scenario is so obviously ridiculous, is because there are all kinds barriers to entry a doctor must complete successfully in order to move on to the next level as it were. Like pass organic chemistry or go to med school.What’s different in the acting realm, is that the are, in a sense, zero barriers to entry. If you show up in L.A. with a picture you took of yourself on your iPhone, you can call yourself an actor. You can be in the same classes, at the same parties, and even sitting next to the top people in our field. No special degree or gpa needed. This creates the illusion that there isn’t much difference between the background actor in a scene, and Jeremy Piven sitting at the table next to them (for those keeping score at home, the difference is decades of experience, hard work, and relationship-building).

With very few exceptions, it takes doctors years to finally become an actual doctor, much less a leader in their field. Why would acting be any different? Is it possible to only be in L.A. for a couple months during pilot season and get your own show? I don’t know, perhaps. But it’s incredibly unrealistic.

Don’t get discouraged. Be gentle with yourself. Know that it takes time. Shoot for the moon, but have realistic expectations for yourself. Remember the words of Thomas Edison:

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.