WHY ACTORS MATTER FOR BUSINESS
My name is Melissa Center, and I am an actress.
Though I’ve never been to an AA meeting, whenever I introduce myself as an actor, I always imagine the inner monologue of the person on the receiving end feeling strikingly similar in tone, especially here in LA: shameful recognition.
In fact, when actors introduce themselves to me, I feel them preemptively shrink, and apologize for who they are. It breaks my heart.
For some reason, unless you are an A-list movie star, actors are not deemed valuable, even by the people that hire us and rely on us to tell their stories. Naturally, this constant negative feedback loop chips away at actors’ senses of self; thus, the constant “I’m sorry I exist” feeling one often encounters as an actor in audition rooms, in classes, at restaurants and social gatherings, or if you are a “civilian,” in interacting with actors along the way.
To the outside eye, show-business is glamorous, and ofttimes frivolous. To those that put ourselves “out there” on a daily basis, show-business is anything but. Being an actor is hard work. It requires not only sensitivity, but flexibility, persistence, resilience, & adaptability. Actors constantly encounter changing, and often chaotic environments. We have to enter into foreign spaces with our complete humanity and risk constant rejection. We have to navigate difficult personalities. We have to put our whole selves into projects that quickly end. We create deep bonds which feel like families, and then those families disintegrate and always move on.
From a craft standpoint, because we never know when we will be called upon to audition and/or actually execute the job, our storytelling skills have to be so sharp, that we are ready to immediately perform to our fullest at any given moment when called upon to do so. This means our minds have to be sharp, our bodies have to be healthy, and our emotional selves have to be available. Always.
Because of the competitive nature of the business, we have to continually sharpen our creative skills, learn, grow, and take on multiple jobs to support ourselves, with no guarantee of financial success. Some might write this off as foolish. I think it shows deep commitment, passion, and strength of character.
Beyond the acting & storytelling skills we must master, we also must become owners of our own small-businesses, but without the MBA to back us up, and no clear roadmap. These days that includes writing material for ourselves, learning to produce, raising money, putting together marketing materials, developing & nurturing our own business relationships, pitching ourselves, overseeing relationships with our representatives, all while staying sane and, hopefully, positive and joyful - who wants to hire a bitter actor after all?
So when you next meet an actor, instead of shaming him or her with, “which restaurant do you work at,” or even, “have I seen you in anything I would know of,” consider hiring him or her as a consultant for your company. Not only will you be “disrupting” the status quo, but you’ll also be adding boundless value to your organization.