Think you have the temperament and business sense to survive in the entertainment industry? Take Lana's self-evaluation quiz and see how you score.
1. Is acting the only career that will make you happy? Would you be miserable if you only pursued acting for fun?
2. Are you comfortable not knowing where your next paycheck will come from? Or realizing that it may depend on something as arbitrary as your looks or the way you deliver a line? Does security sound like death to you?
3. Can you face rejection after rejection and still retain hope? Are you happy to attend dozens—even hundreds—of auditions without getting cast? Will your belief in yourself be enough to buoy you through the hard times?
4. Are you comfortable with your physical appearance? We’re all too tall, too short, too hairy, not hairy enough, the wrong type, the wrong sex or the wrong ethnicity at some point. Are you self-confident enough to cope with this kind of scrutiny?
5. Are you emotionally healthy? Show business can be a breeding ground for drug abuse, eating disorders, and depression. If you’re already dealing with personal issues, better to seek help before diving in.
6. Are you prepared to work long hours, at times for no pay? Can you work evenings, weekends, early mornings, and sometimes even in the middle of the night?
7. Do you have a positive attitude? Are you persistent, adaptable, and willing to go the extra mile?
8. Are you committed to constantly improving your craft? Do you always seek ways to develop your skills and learn new ones?
9. Do you enjoy a myriad of interests and activities that not only make you a unique and well-rounded person, but also clear your mind and refresh your spirits for acting?
10. Will your loved ones encourage you when times are rough and cheer for you when they’re good? Will they understand when your schedule renders you unavailable, or when it’s difficult to make ends meet?
11. Are you organized? Can you be counted on to keep track of paperwork, arrive on time, return calls promptly and follow through on commitments?
12. Are you willing to invest in your career, even if funds are tight?
The more YES answers, the more you may be suited to the pressures of professional acting. Ten to twelve is a high score.
If you answered YES to eight or nine questions, better work on your NOs, before making any drastic decisions like dropping out of law school to enroll in an acting program.
If you answered YES to seven or less, you may want to adopt a more informal approach and regard acting as your creative outlet--not your vocation. You’ll be happier in the long run.
In any case, don't quit your day job! You’ll need the cash flow not only to pay your bills, but also to finance your acting endeavors.
A version of this quiz appears in Lana’s Tools for Actors weekly newsletter.
She currently casts for TNT’s “Leverage,” with 64 episodes under her belt, and NBC’s “Grimm,” now in its second season. Gus Van Sant, Robert Benton, Guillermo Arriaga, Catherine Hardwicke, and Tim Robbins figure among past film clients. Commercial accounts include Nike, Apple, and Nintendo, and international campaigns from Shanghai and Santiago.
Lana is a member of the Casting Society of America and the International Casting Directors Network. She frequently lectures across the U.S. and abroad, most recently at The Actors Platform in London, IfiF Productions in Vienna, The Acting Studio in Berlin, Studio Bleu in Paris, and Prague Film School.
She has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, MSNBC.com, MTV.com, AccessHollywood.com, and Wired, among others. Follow her on Twitter @lanaveenker.