Pursuing a Career in Theatre aka Pursuing the Art of Thick Skin
One of my favorite things about stage dooring after a show are the kids who tell us how inspired they are to actually pursue a career in theatre! How seeing us up there makes them feel like their dreams really can come true! And lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions about advice or how I even got started doing the thing. So I decided to put together a post about all the things I could say to answer this question. So here goes!
1. A lot of people are going to think this isn’t a real career.
Sometimes it takes landing a respectable job in the theatre (or a show that people have actually heard of) for people to understand that what you are doing is valid. After returning home from school where I was PURSUING MY DEGREE in theatre, I would have family of friends ask me if I was “still doing it” and what on earth would I possibly do with that degree once I was finished. Because it’s not like they don’t think you’re talented. They think you’re not the “one in a million”. They think you’ll burn out quickly or its too hard or you won’t make any money. All things that could happen with any job. But it takes the brave ones to go for a job like this.
2. There’s a lot of rejection involved so keep your mental state healthy!
Any and all actors deal with this and spend most of our days learning how to recover. I’ve gotten MANY rejections before this job and MANY more will come after. It takes a lot for me to convince myself that I am not the issue and that I just wasn’t what they were looking for. It’s easier said than done but it’s an important thing to work on in.
3. You don’t have to go to school but it doesn’t hurt either.
I went to CCM (The Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music) which is considered one of the oldest Musical Theatre programs in the country. I enjoyed my time there and learned a lot about the kind of performer that I am. But I also really grew up. College, regardless of what you major in, is a “guided step” into adulthood. I needed college so that I could take baby steps into turning into the person I am today. I believe that getting an education is SUPER important. But it also isn’t for everybody. Especially people who pursue theatre. Sometimes taking four years of vigorous acting courses makes you a text-book actor which is the KILLER of imagination. But other times it allows you to acquire a tool box for everything you’ve learned and take out what you need and what works for you. But at the end of the day there is no right or wrong. Its your choice!
4. You never know where it’s going to take you.
I was born and raised in Miami Florida and vowed that I would move to LA to stay in the warmth forever. Then I realized I wanted to be an actor and was going to move to NYC. Then I realized the most affordable school, for me, was in Cincinnati. Then I got my equity card in St. Louis. Then I got what was going to be my first professional job in upstate New York, but instead took a contract to travel the country. Four years ago, I never would’ve imagined the places I ended up all for the love of theatre.
5. If you really really love it, nothing will stop you from doing it.
It’s a hard world and there are a million and one things telling you not to even attempt it. But if you truly believe this is what you were put on earth to do then you will do it. I have moments where I feel like there’s absolutely nothing else I’d rather be doing with my life. And until then, imma keep on doin it.