This isn’t your run-of-the-mill “I Hate Actors” rant. We all hate actors. If you’re not jealous of someone making millions of dollars annually by working six months a year, you’re lying through your teeth. I’m talking about real, studied, pounding-the-pavement daily actors. Most of them suck, and I’m not just talking about their level of talent.
Truth: there are about ten people I’ve worked with during my time as an undergraduate theater major that wholeheartedly deserve fame (and four of them already have achieved it, which is awesome). They spent their days in class and their nights in theaters, working their asses off and treating everyone with respect and kindness. I have every admiration and respect for those people. It’s the remaining 85% of actors I hate. I’ve seen kids who intently study their chosen piece over and over, only to be shown the door. Conversely, I’ve seen guys stroll into an audition with absolutely nothing prepared, invent a fake monologue from a fake play, and land the part. It’s hilarious, because while singing and dancing require countless hours of constant training, one can either act well, or not. I’ve had multiple arguments about how acting is a studied craft and only serious actors will ever get far. Tell me how that explains people found in shopping malls? Reality television stars? Kristen Stewart? I truly, deeply, honestly believe that if you work your tail off, good things will come to you. Unfortunately, that’s not how this business works a majority of the time, and it’s something I’m only just getting used to. This post stems from the fact that I was just offered a fantastic job at a great regional theater company. Despite the fact that this cements my transition from performer to arts administrator, I couldn’t be happier to be exploring a new career path in this profession. So why the bitter, spite-fueled entry?
I spent the months after law school traveling around the East Coast auditioning, interviewing, and working for my favorite company on the planet. I had worked for them previously in the past, and was anxious to return. Unfortunately, I was no longer young (translate: minimum wage) and/or skinny, and I had to endure a string of seemingly endless calls, callbacks, interviews, and stints in Florida. I was thrown back into the world I gleefully ran away from last August. I remembered very quickly why I ran away into the loving (hah!) arms of law school.
Imagine a small, cramped room stuffed with hundreds of girls. Girls doing their hair, girls painting their faces, girls chattering endlessly about what classes they’ve taken and with whom. “Oh, you were at Stella Adler? I was at NTI.” “Soprano? I’m a mixed belt.” “Do you prefer Stanislavski or Chekhov? Patti or Barbara?” Spanx and dance shoes fly around the room like pigeons in Central Park. There’s a sickly sweet smell of anticipation, sweat, and Tresseme hairspray in the air. My favorite holding tank-mate was Goldilocks, so named because her hair would make the fairy tale star jealous. The call we received said “wear comfortable clothing you can move in.” For her, this meant a dance leotard, dance wrap, and character shoes. For me it meant a ratty tank top, capri sweats, and my Nike Shox. She was perfect, and I hated her for it. I knew only one of us was going to go home contract in hand, and by God I wasn’t going to let it be her.
This day was the culmination of months of sweating over my physical appearance and my choice of 16-bar snippets. My face had 18 layers of what seemed like spackle on it. I was smiling so much I thought my lips were going to tear apart. I’m very upfront about my horrendous dancing skills, but everything else was damn near perfect. After what seemed like an eternity of twirling and waving, I was stopped. I got that familiar smile that means, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’. Every single bad feeling about working hard and earning things came rushing back to me. I felt led on, asked to come for callback after callback for two months with nothing to show for it. So when Goldilocks was the chosen victor and I sulked out of the studio, I couldn’t help but focus my unhinged mental wrath upon her.
Of course, this all comes back to the fact that I’m a judgmental haterade-chugging jerk with a rich imagination and a flair for the dramatic. This girl deserves the gig. She probably doesn’t binge eat three times a week, or send herself into regular alcohol-induced comas. She also actually works out when she goes to the gym, as opposed to watching Bravo reruns while “jogging” on the treadmill at a speed of 2.5. Voice lessons, dance lessons; this girl looks like she’s had ’em since she was six. I quit ballet in third grade during my rebellious phase, preferring to spend my time wearing oversized Devils jerseys and collecting rocks. She probably woke up at four to set her hair meticulously, curl by curl. I hit my snooze button three times and barely made the 11:30 train. She deserves this with every fiber of her perfectly coiffed being, and I deserve…not this. I am competitive. I am hungry. But clearly, I am not serious. I was not willing to do what others have been doing for years, and Goldilocks, along with her fellow seriously studied peers, deserve everything I don’t.
While I’ll happily admit serious/seriously annoying actors should have the theatrical stardom that they’ve worked for, this is no way revokes my license to mock them. Because that’s what I deserve.
I’d like to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee fan. I’d thank him even more if we won today. For those of you who celebrate Easter, have a Jesus-filled weekend! For those of you who celebrate Opening Day as if it was Easter, like me, buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks! Seriously.