"There are many people trying to get into the theatre. Stage and screen cannot contain all of them, so some become teachers, agents, casting people, and most of these (just as most actors) seek the real or imagined security of a hierarchical system: “I’m just trying to do my job and to please my employers.”
But the actor does not have employers. The agent and the casting person are not employers, they are, frankly, impediments standing between the actor and the audience. Does that mean they should be ignored? Well, many times they cannot be. There the are. But they, and their job, should be kept in perspective.
One does not have to “like” them, and no amount of toadying will induce them to like us. Again, the Stoics say: “Do you want the respect of these people? Are they not the same folk you told me yesterday were idiots and fools? do you want the good opinion of idiots and fools?”
Don’t “confess” when you come offstage. If you have gained an insight, use it. They say “silence builds a fence for wisdom.” To keep one’s own counsel is difficult. “Oh, how terrible I was …” How difficult to keep those words in – how comforting they are. In saying them one creates an imaginary group interested in one’s progress. But give up the comfort of an imaginary group. This “group” that is judging you is not real; you invented it to make yourself feel less alone.
I knew a man who went to Hollywood and languished jobless for a period of years. A talented actor. And he got no work. He came back at the end of the period and lamented, “I would have been all right if they’d just sat me down on day one and explained the rules.”
Well, so would we all. But who are “they”? And what are the rules? There is no “they”, and there are no rules. He posited the existence of a rational hierarchical group acting in a reasonable manner.
But show business is and has always been a depraved carnival. Just as it attracts the dedicated, it attracts the rapacious and exploitative, and these parasites can never be pleased, they can only be submitted to. But why would one want to submit to them?
The audience, on the other hand, can be pleased. They come to the show to be pleased, and they will be pleased by the honest, the straightforward, the unusual, the intuitive – all those things, in short, which dismay both the teacher and the casting agent.
Keep your wits about you. It is not necessary to barter your talent, your self-esteem, and your youth for the chance of pleasing your inferiors. It is more frightening but it is not less productive to go your own way, to form your own theatre company, to write and stage your own plays, to make your own films. You have an enormously greater chance of eventually presenting yourself to, and eventually appealing to, an audience by striking out on your own, by making your own plays and films, than by submitting to the industrial model of the school and studio.
But how will you act when you, whether occasionally or frequently, come up against the gatekeepers?
Why not do the best you can, see them as, if you will, an inevitable and preexisting condition, like ants at a picnic, and shrug and enjoy yourself in spite of them.
Do not internalize the industrial model. You are not one of the myriad of interchangeable pieces, but a unique human being, and if you’ve got something to say, say it, and think well of yourself while you’re learning to say it better."