Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Performers should not have a backup plan...

...well, unless you are a tightrope walker and your metaphorical backup plan is literally a safety net; that, I am all for.  Let me be clear here, I, PhillyRay am vehemently against splattered guts.  Now that that's out of the way.....

I had a lot of friends from my college days who said that they were going to pursue acting after graduation.  Perhaps 2 other people besides me are still actually doing so.  It's not like I'm old, I'm only 27.7 years old.  Did they just quit?  Did they become weary of the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle?  One gentlemen confessed to me that he "...just freaked out and wanted more money and a higher degree of [women]". 

The uniting factor in all of these people is that they had a backup plan.  David Mamet talks about this in his book True and False.  Most of the actors that I talked to about this book do not agree with most of the author's points....and I get that.  But......I totally back him up on the whole backup plan point.  Bottom line is, if you have a backup plan to acting, invariably that backup plan is what you end up ditching acting for. 

Backup plans are not survival jobs.  I'm not stupid, you should have a survival job....unless you are one of the privileged few people who are independently wealthy.  My survival job is real estate in NYC.  It's terrible...I hate it.  Hate.  Hate.  Hate.  But I love the flexibility.  Love. Love. Love. 

Take today for instance.  It's raining.  So I posted ads from home and fielded calls.  I went on 2 appointments and showed apartments to clients.  I didn't have to get to my desk at 9am.  That is a huge relief....if I have a big audition (or a last minute one at that), I can work on the material at home. 

What do I mean as a backup plan?  I mean people set deadlines for themselves.  Such as...."Well, I'll try it for 5 years and if I don't earn a comfortable living, I'll apply to law school."  Or, "I will try to get an agent right out of college and if I don't succeed, I'll go into the family business."  If people say such things, I guarantee you that they will have given up on their dreams of being an actor.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.  There is nothing wrong with making as much money as you can however you want to do it.  Yes, I said however you want to do it,  I'm a libertarian. 

I also have a huge beef with the word "try" in peoples sentences.  If you say "try" you are setting yourself up for failure.  Did you know that the ancient Spartans did not have word for defeat?  There was "winning" and there was "not winning"?  Did you know that I completely made that up?

Sometimes things just aren't right for people.  I've had two desk jobs in my life.  I got fired from both of them.  One lasted 3 months and the other lasted 2 months.  I'd have an audition and I'd go.  Screw them.  I'd just go.  I'd come back and finish whatever I had to do that day, stay late etc.  After a while they became weary and fired me.  It's all good.  They shouldn't have hired me in the first place, ha! 

So here I am, walking that tight rope and pretending the cold hard cement floor isn't 50 feet below me. 


  1. Man I agree 100%. I've been asked by non-understanding family members and friends "so what are you're real plans." This is my real plan. If i'm destined to live my life in this delicate balancing act, so be it. I'm acting and doing what I love. How many people can say that, really?

    now if only some of these gigs paid....

  2. Ha! I try to barter for something, like reel editing, or even a metrocard.