top of page
  • Writer's pictureGlenn English

"Questions Young Actors Always Ask"

So I’ve been asked questions by newbie actors lately that I’ve heard before but are worth addressing for the very reason that they keep coming up. Now the questions didn’t come in any particular order and I’m likely paraphrasing but this is how they stuck in my mind.

“Do I have what it takes?”

“Am I wasting my time with acting?”

“How beautiful do I need to be to act?”

“If I’m not thin, can I still be an actor?”

“My voice doesn’t fit my body, am I out of luck?”

“I don’t have an agent, will anybody put me in a movie?”

OK, so there were more but let’s stop there and try to focus on these. First off, pretty much every young actor who gets off the train or the bus in the Big City for the first time feels overwhelmed, overstimulated and over-the-moon simultaneously. Whether the “Big City” is New York, L.A. or London it doesn’t really matter because all these places tend to have the same effect, largely due to the expectations that the actors have built up in their minds.

Because sometime before we got to the Big City, we all had this life-changing moment when the Acting Bug bit us and nothing was ever the same. We’ve dreamed, we’ve fantasized, we’ve sacrificed to get here and the pictures in our heads have been so fantastic, how in the world could they not be real? Listen, there are lots of young hopefuls that get off that train every season with that dream in mind, as well as a similar number who get back and head home because they’re had enough of that particular dream.

However, for the sake of argument, let’s say you’ve gotten this far but you’d really like to know what the future holds and there are these nagging questions. Fine, I don’t have a crystal ball but I’ll try to be candid and answer them as realistically as I know how.

“Do I have what it takes?”

This is a tough question because the only person in the world who can answer it truthfully is yourself. In my experience “what it takes” is more about longevity than talent, because of all the rejection you have to endure. You have to be able to stick it out, you have to learn from your mistakes and you have to try new things all the time to move your career along. The other key component is LUCK and I don’t mean the kind that bites you in Atlantic City. Actor’s luck is the kind you make for yourself and the formula is this.

LUCK = Preparation + Opportunity

Preparation is all the hard work that actors have to do to be ready for their shot and Opportunity is sticking it out, so you can be in the right place at the right time.

Now, I’ve had this conversation with young actors a lot and I always tell them the same thing. If there’s anything besides acting that they can do with their life and be happy, go and do it! I’m serious about that because when you understand the formula and the game itself, it still ain’t easy.

“Am I wasting my time with acting?”

Of course not. Acting is one of the oldest professions in the world, along with prostitution but it’s a hell of a lot more noble, trust me. I’ve seen actors do amazing things on stage, on screen and certainly in class. Actors are the salt of the Earth, they really are, they’re some of the best people I know. Sure, it’s a hard life for most of us but there are also a lot of rewards because you get to do things most people only dream of doing. You get to work with writers, you get to work with artists and more than anything else, you get to be on stage and you get applause, you get to touch people and make the world

a better place with your art. What could be better than that?

“How beautiful do I need to be to act?”

This is a loaded one because we all think of La-La-Land as the Land of Beautiful People and in a certain regard it is but you don’t have to look like Gwyneth Paltrow to be working actor. Sure, it helps getting in those first couple of doors but if GP couldn’t act, they wouldn’t have kept throwing roles at her. Looks help but they can’t do the job for you either, so you need to have talent to back it up. Listen, when Al Pacino was starting out he had a tough time because Paul Newman was everyone’s idea of a leading man and Pacino had to get roles on sheer acting alone. The other thing to consider is that the standards for Leading men and women have changed considerably and I think that’s a good thing. Why? Because it leaves the door open wider for people who and really act who aren’t models. There’s an old saying, “Beauty fades”, but talent doesn’t, trust me it gets better as it gets older.

“If I’m not thin, can I still be an actor?”

Duh, of course. Let me see, how many non-thin successful actors can I list off the top of my head? How’s about Sydney Greenstreet, John Goodman, Oliver Hardy, John Candy, William Shatner, Chris Farley, Kathy Bates, Amy Schumer, and Melissa McCarthy just to name a few. The reality is that not all actors are made equal and there’s a wide array of casting out there, which includes roles for all types. Truth to told, there are a lot more supporting roles out there than leading roles and a lot more work for character actors. The real trick is to find out what your casting is and market yourself properly. Most importantly, remember that talent has nothing to do with how you look, it's what you have inside you that counts.

“My voice doesn’t fit my look, am I out of luck?”

Not at all. Again, if you have a look/sound that’s a particular type, you’ll get through the door faster but you’ll also have more competition with other actors of the same type. However, if you’re unique, well they may not know what to do with you at first but if you keep showing up and you’re talented, you’ll get cast, there’s no way you won’t. Especially if you forge a relationship with casting people. Even better if you have a great voice because that’s something lots of casting folks can use, voice over work is a whole other world that most actors never crack. I knew an actor who was the voice of Boar’s Head for years and he made a terrific living, just off that one gig. Got a great voice? Hold onto it.

“I don’t have an agent, will anybody put me in a movie?”

Listen, stranger things have happened and anything is possible. I think you increase your odds of being cast in specific projects by being associated with the people putting those packages together and those are typically agents. Kids in my class ask me about agents all the time, especially on the lunch break and the reality is that it’s a crap shoot. The best way to get an agent is through personal connections, which can be a family member, another actor, an entertainment lawyer, a doorman, you never know who that connection will be but if you work the right circles, you’ll make that connection. What’s more important is to be ready to meet that agent when the opportunity presents itself. That means your resume has credits on it, your headshots look like you, you’ve had training and can bowl them over with a killer monologue and you look like a million bucks when walk through the door. If you have all those things going for you AND you have an agent, people will put you in a movie and you’ll rock it!

Want to know the God's honest truth about Method Acting? Read our article below.

142 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page