The VCU Actor And The Fall of my Expectations

Check this. My idea for my very first article for the beloved and wonderfully exciting Her Campus at VCU was supposed to be groundbreaking. I’m talking, slanderous! Riveting! You’d never look at the world the same anymore! Bah. That didn’t happen. My idea was to show you the difference between what women and men face in the show business, specifically auditions. However, when I went and did the interviews, I found things to be mellow. It was more of a regular mellow response, a “La La Land” story if you will—an actor had a dream, and that dream was fought for. However, that is not to say that it isn’t as important! It’s just a different story. So here it is, my different story:

Everyone has a unique dream about what it is they want or need to do; how it all got started. The big rags to riches story. An overwhelming and warming response was determination fueled by family. It’s always luck that families are supportive enough to push you to do something that makes you happy. I say “luck” because sometimes, someone might not have that kind of family. It was a fairly small response to my poll, but I do realize that someone might not have had a family that was supporting. People that do theatre and or acting come from all walks of life. We all have different stories. Whether good or bad, we work hard. Work in the show business is not a breeze unless by pure luck. For example, maybe the most famous agent or director wants you to do things for them and all of a sudden, you’re famous. That’s not everyone’s story. In fact, that’s probably only .5 percent of the entire business's story. We are a weird bunch of people, but we are hard workers. Hard workers fueled by our passion. That’s a passion that (or at least we hope) won't die. 

Like I said, everyone has a unique thread with acting. I’d like to share some critiques that I remember from performances or work just to show you the vast difference. I’m not sure how familiar people with the acting world, but it’s different. In a science class, you might get a critique that your equation was wrong. However, in an acting class, it is all about the body. You might delve into body chakras, breathing, tension, focus and more. My favorite “thing” right now is preaching through my work that acting is not emotion. Acting might procure emotion, but emotion cannot be your entrance to a scene, monologue, etc. So, as you can imagine, critiques for the everyday actor will get up close and personal and, at times, surface-feeling. Responses were:


“I've...been told that I'm quite weird and quirky.” -David Koenigsberg

“I have too much tension in my body when I perform, and occasionally I’ll overdo it on the articulation.” -Cecilia Doss

“I get told constantly that I am doing too much.” -Abbey Kincheloe


That last one does hit a little hard with me. I’ve received that note multiple times. Women, in particular, receive that note a lot, especially women comedians. They’re being too much, they’re too gross, they’re not doing enough, they’re not doing enough for women as if each woman in comedy has been hand-picked by a really funny guy to speak for women, and of course they’re not doing their best to make a really funny guy laugh (aw boohoo). There’s so much more I can say, but it would be years and years long. Almost like the forever history of underestimating, trivializing and downgrading women.

So, let me set the scene: You’re fresh out of school. You have to get some sort of job, right? So you set up all sorts of interviews. You send your resume to 500 different places. And you go. You go everywhere and anywhere and exhaust yourself trying to sell who you are, what you can do, how you can be an asset to Something Inc. And you get nothing.

Now, remember that scenario, except you’re an actor. You’ve got three different food or retail industry jobs. Like I said, unless you get super lucky, you can't just coast on one gig. Gigs come and go, and that’s if they even come in the first place. You have to have an index of monologues and top-notch adaptive memory skills (in case they decide to change up the scene that you've already learned, that’s already been sent two hours ago and is now changed 10 minutes before you’re up). You, essentially, have to have a big world of determination and a large set of metaphorical clothes for any change of the metaphorical season.

My point of that big scary paragraph I just wrote, is that there’s a lot of anxiety that comes with being an actor. We’re told to go into the audition room as if we already have the part but, logically, you don't, but you need to make that impression. You can walk in the room, and for 10 seconds the people in the room know who you are and if they want you. That’s hard to get out of your mind. There might be “a little guy guaranteeing that the auditioners are looking for anyone" except you and you might go back and pick apart everything single thing you did wrong in the audition. Things like: “maybe I wasn’t right for the part” and “freaking out” might be solved by focusing on just getting through and distracting yourself after the audition by doing other things.

So, many things run through an actor's mind when we’re putting ourselves out there; we’ve just got to find a way to cease the obsession or else we’ll end up running ourselves into the ground.

Well, this has been fun. While I’ve only begun to touch the tip of the iceberg with this show business, I feel like I’ve at least covered a few of the bases. My name is Tara Malaka, it has been a pleasure, and I hope you know a little more about the actor’s world.


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