Owning Your Power as an Actor

You are an Actor
You are an Actor! And You're a Star. Credit: Nisian Hughes / Stone / Getty Images

In L.A., the question, “What do you do?” seems to be asked quite often.  And when your response is, “I’m an actor,” you’re typically met with one of two reactions.  You usually hear a response something along­ the lines of an excited and happy, “Wow!  That’s amazing!”  Or you’re met with a rather negative, “Oh - how’s that going for you?”  (Actor friends, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about!)

Now the way that others react to your response about your career is not necessarily too important, but your answer to the question is very important because it reflects how you view your life and your career.  You are an actor.  You are an actor! 

Yes, I wrote that sentence twice!  I did so because we need to drill it into our minds that we are all actors, regardless of whether you’re being paid to work on a project today or not.  Whether you’re currently a series regular on a TV show or have a starring role in a film that you’re working on today, you are constantly working.  You are working each and every day, taking small steps to build your acting career.  This requires a tremendous amount of dedication, focus and time.  It is important to recognize and give yourself credit for the work that you put into your career.   

Stake Your Claim

Far too often, actors allow other people to define who they are.  You’re not only an “actor” based on what you’ve previously acted in or when you’re on a TV show!  You’re an actor all the time and sometimes (hopefully many times!) you’re paid to do what you love to do. 

I have especially noticed that many actors who are new to the business - when asked what they do for work - will reply, “I’m trying to be an actor.”  While I certainly can understand why using the word “trying” can seemingly make sense in this situation, it takes power away from what you are actually “doing.”  You’re not simply “trying” to be an actor.  Even if you haven’t built an extensive acting resume yet, you have made the brave choice and the commitment of doing what you love.  And if you do something every single day toward your career goals, you’re making your dream your reality now.    

Acting in Numbers

According to HollywoodSapien.com – which reviewed approximate numbers of actors who are members of the actor’s union SAG-AFTRA - there are over 100,000 union actors in Los Angeles alone.  (I would speculate that this number is actually on the low end – and remember, this number doesn’t even include “non-union” actors!)  The information also explains that approximately 80% of the 100K actors are out of work “at any time.” 

This information is somewhat vague, and this reference explains on their site that it is difficult to determine the exact number of actors who are members of SAG-AFTRA.  However, even when using these approximate numbers as an example, we can see that out of a very large number of actors, only a small percentage are being paid for acting work.  This certainly doesn’t mean that everyone else is simply “trying” to be an actor.  What this tells us is that it is incredibly difficult to earn an income in this industry, and that sometimes you’ll be paid while other times you will not.  Paid or not, you are an incredibly talented and unique actor and storyteller.  

Being Afraid and Doing It Anyway

I believe that when you fully appreciate your potential as an actor, you will pay less attention to defining yourself based only upon paid acting work, and you’ll recognize that you are an artist who is already very successful.  There is only one of you, and it is your uniqueness that will always set you apart as an actor and as an individual.  Embracing your individuality is what I believe will open the doors of opportunity for you.    

Remember, my actor friend, the fact that you are courageous enough to pursue your passion in a very difficult industry the first place should give you great confidence!  In a wonderfully written article for "Backstage," acting coach Carolyne Barry beautifully defined courage as “Being afraid and doing it anyway.” 

You’re doing it.  You are an actor!  You should own your power. 


Frank, Scott. "How Many Actors Are In L.A.?". Hollywood Sapien. N.p., 2012. Web.