Work work work work work. Am I complaining? Not at all. It’s work that I love… I feel like I’ve said that so many times throughout these blogs that maybe it’s coming across as me trying to convince myself. But’s it’s true! I swear! Well maybe today I am trying to convince myself.
Anyone who laughs when I tell them that I’m an actor because they don’t consider it to be real work, I just want to throw my well thumbed, blackened-by-pencil script at them, along with my moleskin notebook that’s full of notes and research. Those people still exist. I knew this before today. I’ve always been cautious when meeting new people and sharing with them what it is that I’m doing in London. “I’m getting my masters degree in theatre,” I say. Not in acting, I don’t specify right away. Many people who aren’t involved in the arts seem confused that there’s enough to study to merit a masters degree. It’s not that I’m embarrassed, more that I hate feeling the need to justify myself.
Today, I had to.
I took myself out on date to the theatre. For lunch? I took a long stroll through the Borough Market and had a little bit o’ this! Little bit o’ that (god I love that place). I stopped for a salt beef sandwich. If you’ve never had one, google where to find one. I found a new vendor, and the merchant and I started talking as a fresh batch of meat came out. My accent, whenever meeting a stranger, is always what strikes up conversation. “Where are you from?” is always followed by “what are you doing here?”
This guy gave me a lecture as my salt beef sizzled. Acting isn’t a profession. It’s a hobby. All those movie stars who actually make money? They probably make up no more than 5% of everyone who professes themselves an actor. It’s no way to live your life. What about stability? Buying a house? Having a family?
These are all points that I’ve heard before, and I have seriously considered them. Especially the point of family. Family means the world to me. My own has been nothing but supportive, warm, and really my best friends. It’s always been important for me to recreate that feeling, and when I chose to pursue acting, I knew that I might be putting that in jeopardy. If the choice came down to my art or a family…. well I just don’t know. Having said that though, I’ve always taken comfort in actors around me who somehow compromise, balance and have both. Is it hard? Hell yes. But not impossible.
Then this guy comes along and shoves all of these things in my face yet again. And I begin to doubt.
It takes a lot of courage for artists to pursue artistry. The odds are against us, and it’s not just because of competition. I have to wonder how many people actually understand what it means to be an artist, and so how many people actually support us? It’s hard to gauge, really. We tend to gravitate toward one another and form communities where we push each other into creativity. But outside those groups?
It’s frustrating, scary and depressing enough as it is. Do we really need people to put us down because we see life differently? Because there’s this weird thing in us that really despises the idea of a desk job? I have enough doubts when things are going poorly. I already have a voice in my head that whispers questions like, “why are you doing this to yourself?” I don’t need that voice actualized by the man who’s selling me a sandwich.
How do you silence voices? How do you make sure they don’t overwhelm you and steer you away from what, on good days, is the most satisfying thing you’ve yet to experience? Why is it so hard to hold onto the good feelings in face of the doubts?
I don’t have an answer. Actually, I really don’t know how to wrap this up. I’m just swirling and reeling a bit. Maybe it’ll all be better when I get back to class? When I practice my art with my friends? But isn’t that just a temporary fix? I can’t be thrown off my game every time I meet someone who doesn’t get me. That can’t be my neutral position that only shifts to optimism when I practice because facts are facts: after school, how often will I get to practice?
How do I make sure that I remember what it’s like to lose yourself in a role, walk offstage not really knowing what happened, but have person after person come up to you after to tell you that you’ve moved them?
Latest posts by Sam Kamras (see all)
- “Suddenly it hit me… this fear of failure will never really leave” – a personal reflection by Sam Kamras, actor - May 4, 2015
- Sam: I have trouble saying that I want fame, but I want the same opportunities as them! - March 30, 2015
- Sam: My director, before opening night, actually told me: “Don’t be afraid to be ugly.” - March 2, 2015