Why Quitting Acting Is Not an Option

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An actor walks in to an audition and says to him or herself, “If I don’t get this part, that’s it. I am giving up acting.”

The list of successful actors that have thought of quitting is long. The path is filled with rejection. You have to know that.

Every time you put yourself out there know that it may be no for now, but your big yes could be just around the corner.

If you’ve chosen the path of acting that’s because you either feel you’re good at it or you’ve been told you’re good at it and you know deep in your heart you love it.

You have to remind yourself that acting is your passion and quitting it would kill you.

I was working with a student in class that was struggling with a demanding scene. He wanted to quit. So, I said to him, “What’s your plan B? What else are you good at?”

“I would make a lot of money selling high-end cars,” he said.

“OK, then embrace that profession because that will be what you’ll be doing.”

He winced in pain, and in that moment he realized that he had to fight for plan A, because the possibility of plan B was too gut-wrenching to even think about. Acting was his dream, his only dream. The dream he needed to fight for.

Today that actor stars on a major TV show.

When you don’t get an acting job that you really want it’s because it wasn’t right for you at that time, and you have to believe that there’s something better coming.

Ty Burrell almost quit before landing “Modern Family.” He talked about being rejected all the time and then he found the job that changed his life.

Jon Hamm would go down to the wire for big movies and he didn’t get them. Thank God he stuck it out. I can’t imagine another actor playing the iconic Don Draper.

You audition five times for a movie that you’re right for, you get better each time, and then someone else gets the part. It’s devastating. It’s also the name of the game. Yes, you didn’t get the part, but they brought you in five times because you were that good. That’s what you have to look at.

Henry Cavill got close to many jobs; I coached him for the part of James Bond. He was devastated when he put all of his heart and soul into a screen test and he didn’t get it. But if someone had told him that he was going to play Superman and that a lot of great roles were coming his way, I think that would have softened the blow.

Bottom line: You have to have faith.

Mary-Louise Parker said, “The world has gotten too mean for me, it’s just too bitchy. All the websites and all the blogging and all the people giving their opinion and their hatred... It’s sport for people, it’s fun to get on at night and unleash their own self-loathing by attacking someone else who they think has a happier life.”

It’s tougher today more than ever for an actor because of the Internet, so you have to develop a thick skin.

Uzo Aduba said, “The day I found out that I got ‘Orange’ I actually had given up on acting. I had been trying to do it, and was working in New York doing theater. I had been spending the summer—my first time trying—to do film and television, and it was hard, and I was, like, ‘Maybe I’m not supposed to be this,’ you know? And then I got home, and about an hour after that I found out I got this job.”

There are parts you are born to play and if you quit too early then you’ll never know.

So if you have talent and you have a passion for your talent you can never quit.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Michelle Danner
Michelle Danner is an acting coach, film director, and artistic director at the Edgemar Center for the Arts, and a Backstage Expert. Her latest movie “Bad Impulse,” a psychological thriller, is set for release later this year. The Michelle Danner Acting Studio in Santa Monica, Calif. is currently offering online classes for actors of all ages, experience levels and from all around the world. For more information, check out Danner’s full bio!
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