BY CHARIS JOY JACKSON
Want to inspire your parents that you’re making the right choice? A lot of people, including your parents, may look at your decision to become an actor as something that’s not valid. Not a real career. Maybe they see it as a fling of youthful dreams, or a phase that you’ll grow out of, but, are they right? Or do you see it as the absolute career of your life and somehow you’ve got to convince and inspire them it’s a real job?
What you have to realize, is you’ll always be the little kid playing dress up to your parents. They want the best for you, so when you present this risky and uncertain future, you must tread carefully. Otherwise, they may see a vision of you as an eight year old, living on the streets of L.A.
Before you jump into this career you need to decide if you’re ready for what it will cost you. Being able to have an intellectual and reasonable answer to this, will also help your parents support your decision and make it more likely that they’ll help you stay the course to reach your dream.
So what can you say to inspire them to see what you’re choosing is valid?
“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” – Pablo Picasso
The truth is, we need actors because they help us realize the truth.
When I teach acting, I like to show a TED Talk clip of Patsy Rodenburg, called “Why I Do Theatre.” I highly recommend you watch it and even show it to your parents to back up why acting is a vital job. It may even inspire you to see how much more you can give to those around you.
In the video, Patsy tells a story about a man who approached her. The man said he didn’t like theatre. Patsy encouraged him to explain why. He explained his experience of one of the actress’ (after finding out her young son has been killed) made a sound that he termed “embarrassing”.
He went on to say, that a year later, his own daughter was murdered and how upon learning this news found himself making that same agonized sound the actress had made the year before.
The man finished sharing with Patsy, by saying, “You know, she told me the truth, but I hadn’t grown up enough to know it.”
I get goosebumps every time I hear this story, because that actress opened something within that man; she gave him permission to grieve. She helped him realize the truth in his own life, so he would know how to act when tragedy struck.
If you’re pursuing acting because you’re after the fame, then read this section again. The true artist/actor, is someone who desires to tell the truth in order to inspire the viewer.
If this is something you want to do, then great! Add this to your answer when you tell your parents.
What parent wouldn’t want their kid to help make such an impact on someone’s life?
“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.” – George Bernard Shaw
A few years ago, my cat passed away. She’d been a part of my life for almost twenty years. She had seen me through those formative years and had been a steadfast companion through all the ups and downs of high school. If you’re not a cat fan, take comfort in knowing she acted more like a dog than a cat. (All the best cats are dogs in feline form)
Anyway, I was finding it very difficult to process her loss. Even though she’d been such a huge part of my life, it felt a bit silly to cry for a cat.
That’s when I watched We Bought A Zoo.
There’s a scene when Matt Damon’s character, Benjamin Mee, is trying to get a sick tiger, Spar, to eat. Really, he knows Spar is old and the humane thing to do is to put him down, but Benjamin refuses and it’s a struggle to get Spar to take his medicine.
There’s a moment when he and his son are talking about courage as they sit in front of Spar’s inclosure. Benjamin has just been encouraged again to put Spar down, but he still doesn’t want to, because for him the subtext of the situation is the letting go of his wife who has passed away. Then his son turns to him and says. “You did your best dad, he [meaning Spar, but also meaning his mom] knows that.”
Up to this point, I’d been holding the tears at bay, but something about this scene and the acting by Matt Damon and Colin Ford finally gave me permission to mourn.
Yes, it’s similar to Patsy Rodenburg’s story, but where it differs is that it happened in the same moment of watching it, instead of a year later. It was because of two actors that I was finally able to grieve.
I’ve heard other tales of actors giving performances during a timely moment that allowed an entire audience to experience something real in their lives.
We need actors, because they help us understand the workings of our souls.
Ok, sure, not every acting gig you get is going to help someone, but if that’s our goal, to create something great, to go for the jobs that will make an impact in people’s lives, I think you’ll find your parents standing behind you and encouraging you to push for your dreams. After all, they were dreamers once too, maybe they still are…
So many people who aspire to be actors lose sight of what’s important. They become vain and shallow shadows of what they once were, all because they’re trying to look hotter and tanner. Please don’t turn into the orange version of yourself.
A good way to hold on to what’s important, is to remain the silly original you. It may give you the x-factor so many directors and producers are looking for, but it will also encourage your parents that this crazy industry won’t change you.
Find places where you can volunteer – help feed the homeless, become an animal fosterer, offer to weed your neighbor’s yard.
These kinds of acts of service help to keep us grounded. I’ve heard countless stories of actors who do even small things like offer to wash the plates after lunch, instead of hiding in their trailers. Not only does it help them, but it inspires the people around them.
How much more will it inspire your parents?
Final thoughts, while this video is aimed at filmmakers. I love what it says about filmmaking being a calling. I think it’s the same for the life of an actor. It has to be something you’re called to, something you’re insanely passionate about and have no other choice but to pursue it.
The more passion you show to your parents, the more they’ll want to stand with you, because like I’ve said, they want the best for us, and if that best is coming to life as an actor, then they’ll want to be a part of seeing that happen.
Because that’s true inspiration.