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Secret Agent Man

Island Wisdom

Island Wisdom
Fall marks the start of the new TV season, but it won't be the same this year, because "Lost" is no longer on the air. How can I watch Jimmy Smits on "Outlaw" when I'm still not clear how Man in Black became the Smoke Monster? Why should I care that Tom Selleck is playing a cop on "Blue Bloods" when I don't know how Richard Alpert made a living after getting off the island? These are the questions that keep me up at night. And just this week, I had a startling realization: "Lost" was so amazing that the show's wisdom can be applied to almost anything in life, and that includes your acting career. So let's take a closer look at some of the best lines from "Lost" and see what you can learn from them.

"Don't tell me what I can't do." —John Locke

Acting might be the most difficult career in the world. The odds are stacked against you. Success is often based on luck, not talent. So if you want even the slightest chance at achieving your goals, you have to be as determined as Locke was on the show. Don't ever let anyone tell you that your dreams aren't worth dreaming.

"If we can't live together, we're going to die alone."  

—Jack Shephard

You can't make it on your own. It's just too difficult. So invite others to join you on your journey. Find actors you like and respect. Share information. Support each other. Being part of a group will make your life easier, and it will definitely increase your chances of catching a break.

"There's always a choice, brother." —Desmond Hume

Everyone knows the key to a good audition is making a strong choice. Playing it safe will get you nowhere. You have to take chances. A casting-director friend once told me that if six actors read for the same part, five of them will usually play the role exactly the same way. So guess who ends up getting the job.

"Everyone gets a new life on this island…. Maybe it's time you start yours."
—John Locke

Man, I really love this quote. It reminds me that the entertainment industry allows you to reinvent yourself any way you want. This is especially true for actors. I've had clients who were going nowhere fast completely change their look and start booking like crazy. I've also watched actors become successful writers and producers while they continued to pursue their acting careers. Anything is possible. Look at me. I'm an agent who became a writer. Who knew?

"Don't mistake coincidence for fate."
—Mr. Eko

Actors sometimes get too touchy-feely for their own good. I once watched the world's worst actor perform at a showcase. The next day, we ran into each other at the mall. He was convinced we were destined to meet again. We weren't. I was just looking to buy a tie.

Almost Lost

Perhaps the greatest lesson you can learn from "Lost" is found in the following quote. It's from Josh Holloway, the actor who played Sawyer. When asked about his audition for the show, he responded: "I was done. Acting had kicked me in the teeth so hard. I had just received my real-estate license in the mail four days before. I was going to build my real-estate empire. The chance to audition for this came along, and I was like, 'Ahhh, fuck it. One last hurrah.' "

That just goes to show you. You never know. All of you might be just one audition away from the acting job that changes your life. So hang in there, gang. One way or another, we're all getting off the island.

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