What do you actually want…?

Nov 12, 2010 by     No Comments    Posted under: Attitude, Three Actors

If I could put you on ANY set in the city tomorrow, where would you want to go?

A few months ago I asked myself that question and didn’t have an answer. I’d gotten so wrapped up in moving forward, getting things done, that I had forgotten to ask myself the simple question of what I actually wanted.

Under the umbrella of acting/entertainment, there are tons of separate industries: commercials, game show hosting, TV sitcoms, one-hour drama, live event hosting, improv, stand-up comedy, live theatre, and the list goes on. I know many actors who would actually be fairly satisfied with most any of those areas so long as they were getting paid. I also know actors, myself included, who have fewer avenues under this umbrella that would actually satisfy them. Either way, I think it’s important to take a step back now and again and ask yourself what you actually want.

It’s easy to get lost, particularly when the voices around us are shouting all kinds of advice. Do this, do that, my friend Billy got famous by focusing on shadow puppets, you should do that! I’m a huge fan of trying out as many things as possible to really get a sense of whether or not you’d like it. How can you know if you want to pursue a career in sitcoms if you’ve never watched one, been on a sitcom set, or even taken a sitcom class? (Which, by the way, if you’re interested in I highly recommend Mary Lou Belli‘s.) Especially when you’re starting, take classes in all kinds of things, work on as many different kinds of projects as you can, and I think there’s something to be said for having varied training so that if an opportunity arises in an area you’re not focusing on, you’ll be ready.

For example, I don’t particularly have a desire to be on a soap opera. However, if I had the chance to audition for one and ended up booking it, I’d be absolutely elated. So what does that mean? It means that I’m not going to spend my day working over soap opera scripts, and targeting the CDs and execs of soap operas. However, I will be sure to practice some soap opera acting on a semi-regular basis, know that I can memorize that much dialogue quickly (no small feat), and be aware of the tone and style of soap operas. It’s the kind of thing where I could hopefully let my representation submit for for those shows, and if it comes along, great. But I won’t spend my actor marketing time crafting specific mailers to those people.

Back to the original question, if you could be on any set (or stage) tomorrow, where would you want to be placed? What kind of stories do you like telling? What kind of relationship do you want to have with your audience? Do you prefer the feature film storytelling format, or would you rather have more time with your audience as in a TV series? If someone gave you $1 million tomorrow to tell a story, what story would you tell? What kind of movie would you make? What play would you put on?

Until you get super specific about  what you want, you’ll probably have a hard time getting it.

P.S. If I could be on any set tomorrow it would be whatever movie Fox Searchlight is working on. So if you have access, let me know. 😉

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.