When I was 19, my brother took me to see a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at A.R.T in Boston.
It was the most prestigious theatre I had ever been to, and I was smitten.
The actors were mind-blowingly good.
To top it off, my brother was a journalist and was reviewing the play which meant I got to go backstage afterward and meet the actors!
I’ll never forget the energy in the air, the smell of stage makeup, the busy stagehands cleaning up in the wings.
I’d give anything to get to do this each night like these actors were.
The star of the show was the brilliant Cherry Jones (star of “American Crime”, “Transparent”, and the U.S.President on “24”).
She was incredibly kind as my brother introduced me to her (“This is my sister – she wants to be an actress…”).
After I found some modicum of composure, I told her how much I loved her in the show.
“Thanks”, she said. “Your brother said you might want some advice. I’m happy to help in any way I can?”
OMG, OMG. I can ask her anything. What should I ask…
“Ummmmm, people always tell me I should have a Plan B. Like, I should have something to fall back on because acting is so competitive and so hard so… should I?”
She paused and thought about her answer. I could tell she was considering whether or not to give it to me straight.
“Well,” she said gently, “everyone I knew who had something to fall back on is now doing THAT THING they had to fall back on. If you want to be an actor, be an actor.”
And there is was. Simple as that.
The minute she said it, I knew that for me, THAT was the truth.
I’ve never had something to fall back on, and I’ve never looked back on or regretted that decision. Because…
If you want to be an actor, BE AN ACTOR.