The following Career Dispatches essay was written by Corinne Foxx, daughter of Oscar winner Jamie Foxx and current star of “47 Meters Down: Uncaged.”
Being an actor is like running a marathon. When you can’t see the finish line, you’ll start to question yourself. “Why did I want to do this again?” “Wow, it seems so nice on the sidelines!” “How much longer until I’ve made it?”
These are the questions we ask ourselves, breathless and jobless. We’ve chosen a profession that no one would sign up for on paper. Lack of job security? Check. Financial security? Throw it out of the window. Stability? Never heard of it. Rejection? Endless. Acting is a profession that nobody should want, yet thousands desperately pursue. Acting is not for the faint of heart, and even the strong-willed can crack under its pressure.
So how do we take this seemingly arduous profession and make it a delight? I’ve learned that as much as we relish the moments on stage or on set, the moments of total presence in a scene, we must also relish the journey outside of that—the good, the bad, and the ugly—all the same. It’s a profession with experience that, in comparison to the entire population, so few get to see and feel firsthand. It has incredible highs and heart-wrenching lows. But, nonetheless, we are the ones that get to bask in all of it.
One experience that none of us can escape, one that’s branded on us and unites us as professional actors, is the bizarre experience of auditioning. It’s a rite of passage. It’s a stepping stone that we must all take. It’s “part of the job.” You see, auditioning can either be an exciting, exhilarating challenge that pushes your range and self-confidence, or it can be a dreadful, tedious task that you can’t wait to get over with. For me, until recently, it was always the latter. Auditioning felt disingenuous, cold, and somber. To me, it didn’t feel like real acting at all. It felt like I was the puppet and the casting director was the puppetmaster. But then I completely changed my point of view on auditioning. I stopped doing the guesswork. I stopped trying to be what I thought they wanted me to be. I stopped auditioning for them and started auditioning for me. This completely changed my experience.
I now think of getting in front of a casting director to perform less as an “audition” and more as a “rehearsal.” It’s showcasing my take on the material and my singular view of how the scene should run. It is no longer just about impressing casting directors or producers, but instead about finding a performance that made me happy and fulfilled me creatively. And if it’s imperfect, at least I’m dreading auditions anymore!
In fact, I can actually enjoy this maddening process. But guess what? Even if you do make this shift, too—even if you start to audition for yourself and not the casting director—you still won’t always book the job. Hell, you won’t book the job more than you will book it. So if you can’t control the outcome, control the experience. You can choose to live presently, fully, and honestly. You can choose to use the ups and downs as fuel to your fire, ammo in your emotional arsenal. You can choose to accept the fact that you’ve chosen the wackiest profession out there; and therefore, your life is going to be a little wacky. And like I’ve recently learned, you can choose to savor the parts about this profession that you least enjoy.
Being an actor can be exhausting, lonely, defeating, and frustrating as hell. It’s running a marathon with no finish line in sight. But, as draining as this profession may be, we can’t deny the incredible runner’s high that we feel as we pursue our passion. A high that most won’t understand and few get to experience. It’s what keeps me going, and it’s what should keep you going, too.
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