If you make one promise to yourself in the new year, make it to be a serious actor. Far too many people apply the title of actor to themselves with no good reason to do so. The desire to practice medicine does not make you a doctor, just like the yen to perform does not make you an actor. The liberal application of this title causes others to take actors less seriously. How many times have you told someone you were an actor only to have them laugh or reply, "So you're a waiter?"
Actors have historically been seen as the scourge of society; often acting is considered a "noble profession" only when a thespian has managed to achieve a recognizable level of success. Saying you are an actor and doing nothing to get closer to that goal cheapens the title for your hard-working peers. That you are reading this column, and Back Stage, is an indicator that you are interested in learning more about your craft and don't expect success to simply be handed to you. If you want to succeed as an actor, you must focus on that goal with every fiber of your being. With so many wannabes out there, moving toward your desires with every conscious thought will make you stand out among the masses.
What does this mean? Stop saying you don't have money for headshots or classes. If you make a budget, you'll be surprised to see how much money is wasted going out to dinner and socializing. Sure, those sorts of things are important, but not nearly as important as the tools you need to build a career. You should also stop procrastinating about doing mailings. The day you let slide by without marketing yourself could be the one day an industry person is looking for someone just like you.
Further, make a promise to yourself to be a responsible actor. Be on time for auditions, and never blow them off. If you find yourself doing such things, reconsider your ambitions. Also take stock if you find yourself putting other things before your goals. A day job or a loved one must often take a back seat to the demanding mistress of your performance desires.
These exhortations may seem harsh, but the reality of show business is harsh. Hard work and sacrifice are often requirements. If you are willing to take—and are excited about—the long, difficult journey before you, then you may proudly call yourself an actor.