A few days ago I was at an event, sitting around a table with fellow educators and college administrators; people who I had just met. And as new colleagues do, we began introducing ourselves; talking a little bit about our lives. At some point, I mentioned that I was married to an actor/screenwriter and before I could say another word, someone at the table said, "You know I've been thinking about doing a little acting work myself." I wasn't surprised. I rarely mention my husband's or even my own experiences without someone "jumping on the bandwagon." But, I gave the gentleman the benefit out of the doubt and said, "Well, I always love chatting with an artist, what's your story." Turns out the guy had a degree in computer science, had been working in information technology for years, and had from what I could tell zero acting or performing arts experience.
I said, "Well, I could connect you with some wonderful teachers or studios in the city, if you're looking to take a few classes." His response was the kicker. He asked, most earnestly, "Do you think that's really necessary?"
We live in the age of celebrity. Watch ten minutes of cable television and you'll see that very little talent is required to get your fifteen minutes (or three season run) of fame. And I worry about the impact this phenomenon has on the professional performing arts. People are under the impression that you can just wake up one morning and become an actor, writer, singer etc.
Keep reading Simply Defined and you'll soon realize that I am very pro career assessment and transition. I have no problem with people taking a 180 degree shift and pursuing something radically different than what they've done before. But any shift requires thought, preparation, and intention. I can't wake up tomorrow and start doing a little computer engineering work any more than this gentleman could (or at least should) do a little acting work.
The lessons are these:
#1 Don't take your interests lightly, because I guarantee you that someone takes those same interests quite seriously. And she will run circles around you when it comes to execution.
#2 As the old saying goes, "Anything worth doing, is worth doing well."