Why I Act
There are a thousand things I could have done with my life - engineer, doctor, hedge fundie, politico. Hell, I was already a lawyer. Tried that for 3 years actually (which doesn't count the 36 months of Vietcong-style torture that is law school). I was rich by any measure outside of Wall Street, Hollywood, and Martha's Vineyard. I'd have been a millionaire in 10 years if not sooner.
I could've travelled the world or been an astronaut or at least an astronomer. I could've written books or poems or occupied my time with enlightening the minds of America's youth. But I chose to act.
I chose to act because I want to touch people's lives. I have no interest in fame (I'd do without it if I could). Fortune is nice, but I've already had that and it's not enough. I need to feel like I'm doing good in the world. Movies are universal. Regardless of your station in life or location on the planet, movies have the power move you. Whether you're in India, China, Russia, Belarus, Britain, Sudan, Argentina, or the United States, the feelings are the same when you see Andy Dufresne escape from Shawshank, Tom Hanks rescue Private Ryan, and Luke Skywalker save his father and the galaxy.
Aaron Sorkin is brilliant. He could have done anything other than screenwriting. But if he had, we wouldn't have The American President, The West Wing, A Few Good Men, and The Newsroom. What's beautiful about those stories is that they show us what we aspire to in political discourse, intellect, and moral fortitude. Whether or not such a state of affairs is even possible, it's important that we believe it is and even more important that we try to make it so. Seeing it represented on screen motivates us to strive for the greatness we see there. Sorkin used his ability to show us what we can be, and for that I am eternally grateful. I want to do the same.
Movies show us the best and worst of ourselves. They allow us to cry. They force us to laugh. They incite, inform, instigate, and inspire. They tug on our innermost heart strings and tickle our funny bones til we're blue in the face.
Good films make dancers and dreamers of us all.
I want to be a part of that. I would trade a dozen Oscars to be in one Shawshank Redemption, Apollo 13, or Seven Pounds. I want to do more than entertain. I want to help people escape, take them on an adventure, make them smile, and give them hope. I want to make people believe that Elliot's bike can fly over the moon. I want others to share in the magic of Harry, Gandolf, and Yoda. I want to make people believe in the impossible.
That is what I aspire to. That is why I act.
What do you aspire to?
(photos courtesy of Andrew Parkhurst, David Carangan, Will Wallace, Jonny Robinson, and Rashel Hagmayer)
-- Gabriel Voss