Congratulations, Graduates! Welcome to the Terrifying Real World!

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Photo Source: Steve Weigl

I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to the graduating class of 2013. Most of you worked hard to reach this milestone, and you’ll soon be enjoying the fruits of your labor. So pat yourselves on the back. You’ve come a long way. And don’t forget to thank your parents. I’m sure they spent a small fortune financing your education.

This is an exciting time, isn’t it? After hiding in a classroom for nearly half a decade, you’re about to enter the real world, a place full of challenge and promise. I’m sure some of you are wondering if those four years of college will help you open some industry doors. The answer is yes, but only for 12 months. Then next year’s batch of students will graduate, and your fancy degree will become yesterday’s news.

But chin up! A year is plenty of time to get established. And I’m sure you took several classes on how to survive the early days of your career. It’s a good thing that schools like yours place so much emphasis on the business side of acting.

For example, I have to imagine that for the money you spent on tuition, your curriculum included a class on personal finance. Making a living as an actor is difficult, especially when you’re just getting started, so trust me: Those lessons about establishing credit and negotiating loan payments will come in handy.

I’m sure you also attended workshops on how to take meetings with industry professionals. Next to talent, that’s the single most important skill an actor can have. If you don’t know how to talk to agents and casting directors, you might as well throw in the towel right now. So be grateful for all those hours you spent in mock interviews. That experience will serve you well.

And I hope you were paying attention during the course on how to behave correctly on a professional film set. I’ve heard countless stories about young actors getting fired because they didn’t understand basic terms and protocol. That might sound extreme, but when millions of dollars are on the line, no one has time for a confused thespian. Naturally, I’m talking about actors who didn’t have the benefit of your impressive education.

Now here’s the thing: Despite all that valuable training, there’s a slice of reality pie you may not be ready to swallow.

You see, for the last few years you’ve spent your lives in a cocoon, running from class to class, performing in play after play, enjoying the support of your teachers and fellow students. It’s been fun, hasn’t it? But all that activity will come to an end as you graduate from college and join the rest of us in the real world.

So brace yourselves. It’s going to be a difficult adjustment. You won’t have to show up for a 10 o’clock movement class anymore. You won’t need to help a classmate run lines for a Chekhov play. You won’t have to do any of the cool stuff that kept you busy as a student.

Nope, that will all be gone, replaced by—nothing.

When you become a struggling actor, a large part of life is trying to figure out how to fill your days. Luckily, you’ll have to take on a soul-sucking job to pay the bills, and those wasted hours will help keep you busy, but what about the rest of your free time?

Might I suggest taking an acting class?

Yes, that’s ironic, considering you just spent the last four years of your life in school. But there it is.

Welcome to the party, class of 2013!

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Secret Agent Man
Secret Agent Man is a Los Angeles–based talent agent and our resident tell-all columnist. Writing anonymously, he dishes out the candid and honest industry insight all actors need to hear.
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