There’s a real difference between being a working theatre actor, being a working film actor and being ‘famous’.
Yes, they are interchangeable. You can be a good working theatre actor who gets roles in film but without necessarily being famous. You can be a good working theatre actor and be well-known/famous without ever working on screen. You can be a good working film actor who never works in theatre and be famous or not. But is it all about fame for aspiring actors?
Wanting the Fame Spotlight?
If you are thinking about becoming an actor with only an intention to become famous then I regret you may be incredibly disappointed. While it is entirely possible to become famous, this should not be your reason for wanting to get into the acting business. Indeed, there are stories of actors becoming famous with little or no training, or being ‘discovered’, but these are a very real EXCEPTION and most definitely not a rule.
Fame can come in a variety of forms, and is often misinterpreted today. When we speak of ‘fame’ or being ‘famous’ we think of celebrities and movie stars, we think of people in the public eye through media. But many of the ‘get-famous-fast’ or ‘overnight celebrity’ crowd that are now flooding into stage-castings and screen-castings have not necessarily done anything to warrant this fame. We could actually prescribe the term ‘infamous’ to them, as they have become well known for being involved in reality shows or having a large personality that has caught the media’s eye – and this often causes much debate as to whether or not their notoriety is deserved or should be valued. Their status in the performing arts field is questionable as they have not really contributed to the art-form itself.
And yet, with so many people tuning in to reality shows and soaking up the never-ending stream of people trying to gain their 15 minutes of glory, the business of overnight celebrity status and fame is huge and offers a potential stepping stone into the limelight.
However, often these opportunities only lead to the 15 minutes in the public eye. Many become subject to public ridicule and many find that they have nothing once the attention fades away. This is CERTAINLY NOT the foundation to build any lasting career on, and is probably why many reality ‘stars’ continue to only make a career as a reality personality. If you are wanting to make a break in the performing arts industry, you need to consider whether seeking fame for fame’s sake it worth it. Or is it better to strive for a lasting career and becoming famous in the truest sense of the word: having renown and respectability for the work you do. Becoming prominent as a solid actor or performer and building a network of employers who trust and value your work and as such keep offering employment.
Starting Small Can Lead To Big Things
If you train as an actor you are pounded constantly about there being “no such thing as small parts, only small actors”. While I agree completely that there are no such thing as small acting roles, regrettably the seeming taste for fame only means that many young aspiring actors only want to go for big roles and try to break ‘the big-time’ as a movie star.
This just does not make sense. To take on such huge roles requires a vast amount of responsibility on the actor and any fame that comes with it needs to be capably shouldered. It also shows a complete lack of appreciation of the art and craft of acting that many ‘deserving’ actors strive for years to establish in themselves.
To become a truly powerful and respectful actor requires that you learn the very basics of the craft and build your skills to advanced levels.
Do some research into almost every famous actor and you will see that they all had small starting careers in acting. Many spent years working in commercials or in small theatre companies, many often doing the much less glamorous side of theatre making working in the community and education outreach. These are real working actors, learning to develop their craft in the wide range of acting careers available to them. They are literally cutting their teeth by undertaking every acting opportunity thrown at them. Most famous actors started off merely as actors, they did not become a star overnight.
Everything these actors has done has required them to strive for the art they love and be driven by their passion for performing. It takes hard work and dedication and an understanding of creating art that cannot be found in a reality TV show. These actors deserve their fame because they were tenacious, they persevered and they were patient. They constantly put themselves in new opportunities and worked hard to become recognised. Fame in its truest form: to become recognised and reputed as a good actor.
Climb The Ladder of Acting Success
If you are serious about wanting to become an actor, you have to understand what you are in it for. If it is just fame you seek then you need not pursue an acting career. But if you want to become a respected professional actor who is given work regularly, then you need to pay your dues and develop your craft. That is how reputations are built.
Think of it this way: being a working actor is not really that different to working in any other business. You start off at the bottom of the corporate ladder and you work your way up by being dedicated and enabling others to see your potential worth and value. The contributions you make to your business will allow for your career progression towards the top.
If you have received additional training, then you may be able to enter the ladder a few rungs up, just as anyone does. So you might not start at ground zero, but you still have a lot to prove if you want to show you are capable.
And just as can happen in the corporate business world, if you prove yourself fast you can fast-track up the ladder of success. But you still need to prove yourself first.
The Opportunity To Become A Famous Actor Is There…
But you need to crawl before you walk, and you need to walk before you run. You will see that every small part, every small role you undertake will build your career profile and provide steadily bigger opportunities for you. If you persist with becoming a great actor in the first instance, rather than focusing on fame and its perceived glory, you will directors and casting directors will begin to take notice of your career and may invite you to join them on one of their bigger ventures. Your network that you establish as fledgling actor will become more and more valuable and increase your growth in reputation.
By doing this you can have your cake and eat it. You can be a working actor in theatre, film, TV, whatever… And still have the opportunity to become famous. Just be clear about what fame actually means to you!