Pilot Season descends upon the town like a dense fog, lighting at first a flame of hope and excitement in every actor’s heart that is then diminished a month or so later by the reality of it all (no auditions and nothing booked, or many auditions and nothing booked). And just as hopelessness begins to unpack its bags and set up shop, gold glitter falls from the sky, a big, bright red carpet is rolled out on filthy Hollywood Blvd, and actors get drunk on the notion that twenty minutes away from their current location someone in an overpriced dress will win an Academy Award and maybe one day they could too. Success as an actor is elusive. Death, taxes, and rejection are the only certainty. So as you pursue your dream, Pilot Season and the Oscars become beacons of hope, reaffirming your belief that dreams do come true. Every year actors book a pilot and every year actors win the acting world’s top prize. It’s fuel that keeps you going back to the restaurant job. It’s inspiration that makes you work harder on your craft and your auditions. That craving, that desire for great things can motivate. Plus, it’s just fun to think about what it all would be like to live that glamorous life. But left unchecked, that craving can also serve to keep you from your goal, keep you from being happy. Pilot season excitement and Oscar longings have to be managed.
Two things can happen when an actor unconsciously reacts to desire.
1. All Dream, No Reality.
Dreaming is important. It can reveal to yourself what you really want. But losing yourself in a world of “what-ifs” and “when I make it big I wills…” assures that you will never achieve the success you want. If after watching the Academy Awards you spent all week dreaming about the gown, the interviews, the speech, and the statue, you’re no closer to making any of that happen. If however you watched the show and were inspired to write that second draft of your script, call about theatre space for your one-woman show, draw up a production schedule for your short, get back into class, or do anything else that doubles down on your commitment to your art, you are taking steps that inch you closer to success. You had the dream, were inspired by it, and then let it lead you to action. You’re not dreaming. You’re doing. And that’s what all those award winners did. Most of them passed the requisite 10,000 hours of work long ago. And they’re not stopping. Because the work is what they love. It’s who they are, even after they have achieved what might have been the dream. Success comes from doing. No matter what it takes. With an agent or without, with an Oscar or without. The actors who book pilots and win Oscars are doing that.
2. Reality Always Wins.
No matter how much you dream about booking a pilot or winning an Academy Award, you will always come back to your own current reality. You can deliver your Oscar speech in the mirror all you want but at some point there is a reckoning. At some point your ego is met with the fact that you are where you are. And when you’re lost in the dream and aren’t actively doing the work of pursuing your goal (i.e. your dream has no foundation), that creates shame. You want it all but you’re not where you want to be and you’re not doing what it takes to get there. So now you get caught in the Dream/Reality loop. You know someone who knows someone who gets you into an Oscar party and for three hours you feel like you’re a big star, schmoozing with other stars. And then you go back to your crappy studio apartment without any prospects, waiting till the next afternoon when you’ll do a few hours of Lyft driving to pay for it all. You feel the high-highs and the low-lows like a sugar rush and the inevitable fall. The ecstasy and the reckoning. But you will always come down, come back to you and your reality in this moment. No matter how hard you fight it.
So you are far better served by accepting your reality, and taking the slow, steady steps to changing it. You’re better served by dreaming and then choosing to lose yourself in the work of an actor in this moment. The only way to affect the future is to make changes in your present. Right now. So, sure, go on and enjoy the dream. But rather than spending an inordinate amount of time letting your mind exist in it, take action. Hours and hours and hours of amazing, creative, soul-filling action. Dream, then let it go and get down to work.
You are in command of your reactions. Pilot Season excitement will saturate the town and Oscar frenzie will take over. What you do with it is your choice. Acting careers are carved out by actors who get shit done, year after year after year. Only by letting your dream lead you to creative action do you have the hope of crafting a career full of TV shows and movie awards.
Take a step towards action and shape your future. Classes start now.