Advice and Tips for Actors Helpful thoughts on acting from someone who wasn't the least successful actor of all time.

July 31, 2007

Are You a Bad Actor?

Everyone actor wants to know if they’re any good. And unless you’ve got an Oscar on your shelf there’s never any conclusive proof you’re a good actor. Over the years I’ve figured out a few flags that indicate if you’re a bad actor and really should be looking for another job.

  • No-Repeat Customers – Sometimes you get lucky and book a part. You might be right for something once. But if the people who audition/work with you figure out you stink they’re not likely to bring you in again. If one job never seems to lead to another, you might want to think about why.
  • No Redirection – Sometimes you’re just not right for a part. So you go in, audition, get the old “thank you” and are shown the door. But if this is happening to you time after time, maybe the auditioners just don’t see much of a reason to re-direct you. Because no matter how much work they put in, you’ll never be able to pull the part off.
  • Career Going Nowhere – This one often happens because of bad business sense. If you never learn how to promote your own work and never learn how to market yourself you’ll probably never go anywhere with your career. This is just as bad for your career as being a bad actor but at least you can learn to promote yourself well. Acting can’t really be learned (don’t worry, there will be future posts on self-promotion as well as my whole “acting can’t be learned” thing). But if you’re been promoting yourself and find that you just can’t get that SAG card, can’t get that first commercial and can’t attract any sort of representation, maybe it’s because you’re just not that good. Unfortunately there’s no good time frame to give yourself to accomplish these goals. Some people take years to get their SAG card, but go on to have real careers. But you have to give your career an honest look and see if it’s moved forward in the last year. If it hasn’t at least moved towards these goals, maybe it’s not just bad luck.
  • “You were in a play!” – Yes, that’s a line from Friends. It’s what the crew tells Joey after his play (which was awful). If you never seem to be in a quality project, maybe it’s because the only people who think you’re good have no idea what they’re doing. Everyone’s allowed to do some bad projects. But if that’s all you seem to do, it might be because the people who do good work know better.

You’ll notice almost everything on this list is subjective. What constitutes a “bad play” or “no progress?” It’s going to be truly impossible to know if you’re any good. Sometimes people work for years before these symptoms start to rear their heads. And it’s tough to walk away from a career, especially if it’s something you feel you “need to do.” But it’s easier to leave now than 10 years from now when you’ve still made no progress/money at it. So it may be worth a thought.

There’s no shame in not being good enough to be a professional actor. I feel only a minor twinge that I’m not athletic enough to be a professional baseball player. I have no bad feelings about not being musical enough to be a rock star. There’s a long list of cool jobs that I’ll never have. But this isn’t a problem, because I’m doing something I know I’m good at which is ultimately more satisfying.

2 Comments »

  1. […] someone in the industry sees an actor who’s just bad they say the same thing, “You need to take more classes.” After a few dozen classes […]

    Pingback by Acting Class is a Waste of Time--Eitan the Actor Bio — August 20, 2007 @ 4:32 pm

  2. YES YOU ARE A BAD ACTOR… hahahahahahahaha

    Comment by Roseanne Auran — December 4, 2009 @ 6:37 pm

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