Friday, April 18, 2008

Do You Believe In Magic?

Sometimes in this business (and yes it IS a business..more on that in a minute) you hear about/learn from some amazing talent. Bob Fraser is one of those people. Bob posts on several of the Voice Over groups I'm on, and a post this week really resonated with me.

Voice Over is work. It's what I do. It's my job. IT'S MY PASSION. It is NOT a "quick way to make a buck." I wanted to share this post as a reminder to those of us who are working at what we love, and as an eye-opener to those who think that Acting/VO are easy! (This is a long post, so grab a cup or glass of something, pull up a chair and read on)

Thanks Bob!

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Do You Believe In Magic?

There are basically two types of actors who read my stuff, study my computer-based programs, or come to my seminars:

Working pros who are looking for ways to improve their acting income, and newer performers who are anxious to start making money acting.

I think I attract those types of actors because they know that my entire focus is on the money-making part of being an actor.

The success part.

The show BUSINESS part.

As my pal, Charlie Holliday, loves to say, "They don't call it show art!" And I do my best to provide good information for actors who want to make money in show business.

But the fact of the matter is, I know the truth - and the truth is that the only actors who are really going to succeed in our business, are the ones who understand (probably before I launch into one of my rants) that they must take effective action, in order to see the fruition of their dreams.

Not to put too fine a point on things ...YOU HAVE TO WORK AT IT!

I'm sorry for yelling, but THAT is a good piece of information.

What brought on the yelling?

Well, as you have probably gathered, I am a well-known recluse. I like being at home with my family, my bird (Boyd), my books, and my computers. But in the last month or so, I've been going out to see a few plays and participate in a couple of 'panels' - at various actors' gatherings. I don't know why I get invited to these things, as I am clearly anti-social and pretty much the working definition of a hermit - but I do get invited and I go, with my adorable wife, who comes along to gently remind me to be nice.

Anyway, as a result of my recent forays into the real world, I have run into quite a few actors.

Now, while it is sorta nice to be recognized (if you could call it that) - "Oh you're that guy who writes on Now Casting. What's his name?" - the problem is that I meet far too many actors who sadden me.

There are a lot of actors out there who seem to befully invested in the belief that there is a one-step method to show business success.

"Can you introduce me to an agent who can help me? I'll thank you when I get my Oscar," is the most common conversational gambit. I try to point out that there is no golden ticket to get "in" - and that it's a waste of time to keep looking for one. But people don't listen. Frankly, it's frustrating to see our school system turning out so many educated people who still to believe in magic, wizards, lucky charms... and, just possibly, enchanted beans.

This adult belief in a magical solution is probably the main stumbling block for those actors who are having a hard time of things. Especially those who continue to insist that their careers will 'happen' -somehow - as long as they believe it will and continue to intone that plaintive (but clearly magical) incantation ... "I want to be a working actor, I want to be a working actor." Not to mention the poor unfortunates who go to endless parties and spew out the all too common - "I'm an actor... do you know any casting directors who will give me work? I know I can be a star, if someone would just give me a chance" - elevator speech.

Don't they know that while they are in that 'mode,' they're about as interesting as an Amway salesman at an orgy?

The part that saddens is that I am certain that these actors - the sort who believe that there must be a secret passageway that leads directly to the red carpet ... and all they have to do is find someone to give them the key - are going to suffer tons of frustration and disappointment - for a very long time.

AND they are leaving themselves wide-open to the early onset of bitterness - which is a kind of mental cancer. Believe me - eventually bitterness metastasizes into regret, grief, anger and depression.

My prescription?

Throw away your magic beans!


It's not a good plan to lollygag around, acting for free in theatre and student films - for years on end - hoping that the Wonderful Director of Oz will appear one day, in a sparkle of pixie dust, and discover you.

Spend a lot more time looking for a paycheck for your performing and a lot less time schmoozing with adults who believe in magical chants, secret handshakes, bewitching potions, enchanted headshots or Staples' Magic Button.

Please, oh please - do not continue to believe in fairy tales - because if you do ... you will not live happily ever after.

Which brings us to talent.

Oh, that word!

Shakespeare said, "Talent will out!"

But he didn't add "Talent will be well paid, respected and successful."

(Because Willie was a sharp cookie and knew better.)

Talent is a gift - and if you put it to use, it may pay the bills.

The critical phrase is ... "IF you put it to use."

Jennifer Hudson is a recent case in point.

Meteoric is a word they use.

Has she got talent? Yes, by the truckload.

But everyone is turning her bio into a Cinderella story, a fairy tale ... "first she lost on American Idol and all looked hopeless ... but then she got a lucky break and went on to win the Oscar."

The erroneous conclusion being drawn from Jennifer's story (and others like hers) is that her talent was 'discovered' and well rewarded ... and that ours will be 'discovered' and rewarded too.

But did you know that about four years ago Jennifer was working on a Disney cruise ship - in a big heavy costume with five-inch heels and tons of make-up - belting out Disney ditties for a paycheck?

The point is this:

If a tremendously talented future Oscar winner can 'go on the road,' working on a cruise ship to earn money with her talent ... oh, never mind - I'm sure you get the point.

Listen, after you throw away your magic beans, your next move is to stop wasting your time looking for a one step solution - and start looking for acting work that pays.

ANY acting work that pays.

That's the first step.

That's putting your talent to use.

Go on the road if you have to.


And please don't invite me to anything ...I'm staying home this month.

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If I lived in L.A., I would take him out for a drink!

If you want to get more insights from Bob, subscribe to his newsletter: Show Biz How-To

So, what do you think?


Anonymous said...

Yea, Liz. I liked this so much I'm spreading the word. I'm subscribing to Bob's ezine too. Good Stuff!
Bobbin Beam

Anonymous said...

Hi Liz!

Thanks for this post, I found about it from Bobbin. And, I've joined the list of Bob's ezine subscribers as well.

You're a star!


Liz de Nesnera said...

Hey Bobbin! Hey Stef!
Thanks so much for your comments! Yep, Bob is great. A real pro who tels it like it is!
Have a GREAT day!