You may not have the amount of support you want or need from your family and friends when you decide to become an actor.
This is one of the most important posts I’ve ever written. It can help give you the words to convey the complex feelings that this decision comes with. It can also help you to strengthen your personal relationships. As an actor, this is priceless.
I’ve talked with so many actors who never got the support from their families because they didn’t choose “normal” jobs, or didn’t go down the career path that their parents wanted or expected for them. Sometimes, this came with very bad conditions, or even withholding of financial and emotional support.
It’s a shitty position for you to find yourself in, especially if you’re a new actor.
But even longer-established actors still don’t get emotional support until they have a big, noticeable credit. Even then, this often comes with begrudging praise.
So I want to share a bit of my story with you. I also want to share a letter with you that opened up a flood of support for me.
What It’s Like to Not Have Support as an Actor
When I decided to become an actor, it was messy.
See, my parents are on the older side. They grew up during the Great Depression. They personally knew and remembered hardship, struggle and complete a lack of financial security.
The idea of me becoming an actor and choosing certain financial instability was the craziest thing to them. You might picture them as a version of the family from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but Italian, not Greek. We’re more Sopranos.
This was so hard for me to take at the time, this lack of support. I wanted to be an actor. I was full of artistic vision.
We ended up striking a deal. This might sound familiar to you. As long as I got a degree, I could decide later if I still wanted drama school.
Of course, they hoped I would forget all about this.
The idea was that I’d get a job working for the United Nations. I was strong in languages and humanities, and college was all important. So that’s what happened. I got a degree, and worked for a couple years in meaningful jobs I really enjoyed.
But then, 9/11 came. Living in NYC at the time, I got a serious jolt to my nervous system.
So I made a massive decision, and I went to drama school. I became a professional actor. Around that time, I needed to get as much of my family’s support as possible.
The Script to Express What You Need
Back then my parents still didn’t use email, as it wasn’t so widespread. That’s how long ago this was!
So I wrote them a letter. Today, you might just send an email.
I am sharing an upgraded version of that simple, personal message with you below. Mine was much simpler, but it did the trick. It opened up a new chance to communicate about this challenging career I had chosen.
You may need to use this email.
I want you to feel free to use any and all of it. Consider it your template. Change anything you need to make it yours.
You deserve the support from your family and friends. This email will help you spell all of that out. This email will convey how seriously you take your chosen career, and that you understand the road ahead.
This is for you.
“Dear Mom and Dad [OR Aunt Sue, Uncle Jim, Grandma, OR Mr. Benefactor],
I’ve got some big news. I’m not sure what the best way is to say it, so here goes: I’m going to become a professional actor.
You may not think this is the best idea. I realize that. You may have thought that I’d become an astronaut [INSERT YOUR LOVED ONE’S UNREALISTIC DREAM FOR YOU HERE], but my heart and soul are determined to become an actor.
Mostly, I know you worry about me.
Thank you. It means a lot to me that you are concerned for my career and financial future.
This is the important part though. I need to reassure you that I’m going into this knowing I’m going to be smarter than other new actors. A lot of non-working actors who wait tables and walk dogs are just waiting for a big break. They’re not doing anything consistent, or clear enough for their career.
I’m not going to fall into that trap.
Here’s the good news! I found a special acting coach who’s going to help me develop a business plan. I’m going to use specific, clear strategies to grow my business and career. He will help me meeting the right casting professionals for me, and help me get the best agent for me too.
This is how he’s going to help me [INSERT LINK TO WHAT YOU MOST WANT HELP WITH FROM MY WEBSITE HERE] He’s even helping me make sure that I get the best marketing materials to stand out and shine. It’s called the Business of Acting.
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re absolutely right. It won’t be easy. I know that. I definitely don’t have blinders or rose-colored glasses on.
But it’s actually the same as if I were going to be a lawyer. I’d have years of law school, then have to take the bar exam, then I’d have to build up a practice for myself. You’d be surprised, but this is really similar to how I’m going to build my acting career. I probably won’t become a Ryan Reynolds overnight.
But I’m not going to throw spaghetti against the wall and wait for a “Big Break” either. I’m not going to be passive and live on hope. I’m going to execute strategies that guarantee greater success.
Heck, you can even support me by helping me get more of these strategies. [INSERT ABOVE LINK AGAIN]
I want to show you what this road might look like. You’ve always loved Ryan Reynolds [OR AMY ADAMS OR BEN AFFLECK …INSERT READER’S FAVORITE STAR OR CELEBRITY HERE]. This link has his credits page [INSERT THE ACTOR’S IMDB ACTOR FILMOGRAPHY PAGE LINK HERE].
It took Ryan a while to end up as a romantic comedy lead and action hero. I mean, look at all those little parts he had before he ended up on Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza.
I am really preparing myself for the ins and outs of working every day as an actor. It’s so important that I focus on the things that I can control.
A big part of my job is getting auditions and then completely nailing them. I’m doing my best to keep my technical skills up so that I can do the best in my auditions. I’m also using the business of acting strategies I was telling you about so that I can get more auditions, and meet more industry professionals who can promote my career.
Along these lines, I’d really appreciate if you not ask me about things that I don’t have any control over. This might include questions like: “Will I see you on anything I know soon?” or “Do you have an agent yet?”
While I will do my damnedest to get on my target shows quickly, or get an amazing agent, these things are really outside of my control.
It’s like the lawyer comparison, again. A new lawyer may not get a job at the best law firm in the country a year or two out of law school. That doesn’t mean that a smaller, good law firm is not great experience. It will get me closer to my goal.
The best I can do… is do my best to get there as quickly as possible.
I don’t want you to feel like you cannot talk about my career though. That’s not at all the case.
It would mean a lot to me though if you checked in. Just like anyone else, ask me “How is work going?” I’d love to let you know. “What are you working on these days?” and “What’s your team look like these days?” and “Is there anything I can do for you?” are all great things to ask. Those are all in my control. Those are what I’m working toward.
Another part of my job as an actor is staying focused and strong. This is especially true because all of me is actually the business and service. It’s like being an Olympic athlete, or a lawyer. It doesn’t happen overnight.
I’m going to stay positive, get stronger, and ask questions when I need help and more answers. That is winning as an actor.
I need you to be proud of me. I want to make you proud.
I will need your support more than ever. Actors who have their families’ emotional support can weather the storms more easily. Every career has them, and mine will be no different.
Thank you for supporting me while I follow my dreams. I’m going into this with my eyes open and with some strategies that I can build on.
I promise you that I’ll do everything in my power to win. I want to be able to buy you that vacation home in Hawaii!
Thanks. I love you,
YOUR NAME HERE”
Leave a comment below and let me know what your support, or lack of, has been like.
(RELATED: Learn new strategies to get more auditions and get more work. Click here to learn more now.)