‘Which is your most important acting job?’

 

A friend of mine was working with Holly Hunter; the fabulous American actor and overheard her ask this question of a young member of the cast.

This younger cast member had recently graduated from drama school, was lucky enough to be working on this play at a West End theatre and had been waxing lyrical about the auditions that he had that week for upcoming jobs.

 

‘Which is your most important acting job?’

 

She asked again.

 

‘Er, the one with the biggest director? Highest ratings?’ came the reply.

 

‘No’ said Holly. ‘The most important job you will have is the one you are doing now’.

 

What a wonderful point she was making. Our career requires so much balance doesn’t it. There is a necessary tension between what we are doing right now and what we would like to be doing in the future. We seem to struggle with this though don’t we? We seem forever straining toward something bigger and better.

 

Once we have one job, we lurch forward toward the next, trying to fan the flame to burn brighter, often unconsciously working to stay successful or look successful. 

 

The irony here is twofold.

 

Number 1: When we began, most of us would have worked for free doing anything, anywhere. The simple joy of acting was enough to give us fulfillment and satisfaction. Whether at our local amatuer theatre, college or school, just getting on stage or on the rehearsal room floor was enough to get the creative juices flowing and top up our ‘happy pot’. I distinctly remember being at drama school ahead of graduating and saying  ‘I don’t care what it is, I’ll act for free if they ask me’. 

 

I think when time rolls on and we find cynicism and frustration creeping in we could do with remembering those days, even for 5 minutes, just to reset ourselves. It is a real privilege to do this job on any level especially when we are paid to do so. 

 

Number 2: You can only affect the future in the now. How you behave will affect your future employment. How well you play the role you are currently playing will affect what you do next and onward. There is an old actors adage; you’re only as good as your last job. I think there is a modicum of truth in that. In essence, we must ensure that we remain present and engaged on the job that we are doing so that we maintain our reputation, making the impression that we should be making. In a sense we could think of every part we play like a painting that has been commissioned. It will be on display for all to see and will turn people on to you or off. 

 

So, when all is said and done, we must balance our urgent need to succeed with a healthy awareness that we can only forge that success in the now. The next line you deliver may determine the next job you get. If we allow ourselves to focus on the next step, never looking too far ahead, we can stay on target and at standard.

 

Grow your future in the now.

 

To You, The Artist.