You’re An Actor: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

You’re an actor.


You want to be liked. You want to be special, chosen, influential.

You want to make people feel something.

That’s what actors do: transfer feelings.

[box options]We numb ourselves with food, entertainment, and sometimes even other people. We want to feel again.[/box]

If you create, your art takes on a character and that character is a vehicle to carry your thoughts, ideals, and feelings to whomever engages with your creation. Yep, you’re an actor.


Photo Credit: Jonathan Kos-Read via Compfight

The Good

Acting is a working life. That’s a good thing.

Successful actors never stop working. They’re always doing two things:

  1. Enjoying the moment.
  2. Looking for what’s next.

A bit of a paradox to enjoy the now and also look forward, isn’t it? Point is: they work and they love the work.

There’s a healthy fear you’ll hear the most experienced actor convey even while they’re working

Will this be my last job?

 The smart actor realizes he’s a small fish in a big pond and in order to not be swallowed whole, he’s got to work.

Work smarter. Work hard.

You’re an actor too.


The Bad

Actors are often a needy bunch.

I can say it because I’m an actor and I fully admit it–I’m needy.

That’s not all bad. Of course, if we didn’t have needs, we wouldn’t be human.

Yet, often these needs are not just basic needs but overwhelming desires to be picked–to be chosen. Much like the two team captains picking team members on the elementary school playground, nobody want to not be picked.

[box options]Pick me! Pick me! I’m special too! Look what I can do. I can do this. I can also do this. And aren’t I something amazing![/box]

When the work is overlooked and the ‘pick me’ syndrome takes hold, the work suffers and grows stale and substandard.

The ‘pick-me’ syndrome manifests itself in many ways. If you’ve ever obsessed about your website traffic, how many likes/pins/shares/G+s you’ve gotten, you’ve experiened the ‘pick me’ feeling an actor feels at every audition.

But let’s be candid: we want to be picked right? If we don’t have an audience (even if it’s small) we don’t experience the joy of sharing our work.

So yes, there’s a healthy side to the ‘pick me’ tempered with genuine respect for the audience. The viewer. The customer. The reader.

By focusing on them, the ‘pick me’ syndrome diminishes.

But what happens if if doesn’t diminish. What happens if ‘pick me’ overrides the work and overrides respect for your audience/viewer/customer/reader?

It’s not pretty…


The Ugly

When the needy desire to be picked isn’t focused on others, the desire translates into another feeling.


You’ve smelled desperation…

It’s commission breath from a slimy salesperson.

You’ve seen desperation…

It’s a child rolling around on the floor in the toy shop, begging her parents for the new Barbie.

I was going to trudge through all five senses, but that seemed a bit, well, desperate.

[box options]Desperation is survival mode creativity.[/box]

Desperation is a co-dependent leech, stealing life from the most valuable thing you have to offer: your work.

Though you may have never trod to boards of a stage or stood behind a camera reciting memorized text, you most likely empathize with plight of the actor. The wanting to be wanted.

Yet, by focusing on the work and focusing on the people, our work will be picked and it won’t carry needy desperation. And that will bring about a change.

That’s why we do the work right?


Author: Andrew Zahn

I'm a son, husband, dad, business owner, actor and good sleeper/eater. On this blog, I pave a highway for creative growth by providing food, water, and shelter for those wishing to live, work, and play with creative zest.

  • Nicholas Keeton

    “The actor is an athlete of the heart.”

    “It has not been definitively proved that the language of words is the best possible language. And it seems that on the stage, which is above all a space to fill and a place where something happens, the language of words may have to give way before a language of signs whose objective aspect is the one that has the most immediate impact upon us.”

    ANTONIN ARTAUD, The Theatre and Its Double

    • Andrew Zahn

      I’ve been thinking recently about the language of feeling and how we speak it… without words.

      This quote is good food for that thought… and those feeling.

      Thanks Nick!

  • Is it just me, or is this your bestest best piece ever? Loads of insight, heart-and-soul baring, well crafted analogies and humor (“commission breath,” oy!)

    What was it you wrote on my blog some time back? “Inspirational…even though my medium isn’t fabric.”

    Back at you, bud. Inspirational…because we are all actors needing to be picked.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Oh my.

      Yes you are an actor because your comment made me feel something: humbled.

      Thanks–coming from a writer/artist/craftswoman such as yourself, it means a ton.

  • I guess that really does sum up the good, bad, and ugly about actors–you could probably replace the term with “writers” “artists” and other creatives, too. Awesome post!

    • Andrew Zahn

      Very true Amberr!

  • Diane Zahn

    LOVED that post, ADZ. Being picked is a soul craving in all of us from birth to death. The resting place is that I have been by Him even before I was born. That, however, is most often not remembered or even enough at times. When I do embrace all LOVE, it is an amazing tranquility for my thirsty heart.