What They Think
Two days ago I flew back from Chicago to New York. I was sitting next to a WWII veteran who was coming to the the city for the second time in his life. The first time had been part of his tour of duty in Europe, specifically southern Germany after the war was over. This time he was coing out to see a couple doctors about a procedure to help his ankle. As we got to talking, I learned that his son had actually spent five years acting in LA.
He told me about the tiny little theaters he did one or two productions with in Los Angeles, and that there was a shot at a big break if he paid to attend some sort of party. The details were a bit sketchy, but it was implied that the was the only chance, and that he never got another one. A couple years after that, he got fed up with the business, went back to school, and is now a civil engineer in Nevada, living in the mansion of a wealthy lady slot machine tycoon who took a fancy to him a decade ago.
Of all the non-actors I've talked to much about acting, he seemed to have the closest sense of what this business is really about compared to most people I talk to. He took it seriously. Not everyone does that. And he acknowledged how much of it was luck, barring knowing someone important.
I once had a man tell me he was thinking about being an actor. "After all," he said, "Dustin Hoffman was just a waiter when someone discovered him, and now look at him!" The man actually beleived that Hoffman was just a career waiter who happened to be cast out of the blue into a major motion picture by a random producer who happened to like the efficient way he served his coffee.
I'm sure this is true with many careers, but it really seems like there are a lot of things actors don't remember ever not knowing that other people never learn. But, like the veteran on my plane, the friends and the family know, even if it doesn't always seem like it to you, they know more than many others. Something to remember.