Even though this column is called “The Working Actor,” it doesn’t mean I’m always working. We all know that the majority of actors spend most of their time unemployed, and the career drought is often at its driest right around Thanksgiving. If you’re gearing up to spend a weekend with your extended family, you might be dreading an encounter with the most painful assembling of five words known to man: “How is the acting going?”
There’s nothing more awkward than trying to find a positive way to spin that shit while passing your aunt cranberries across the table. It’s a season devoted to giving thanks, which precedes the season of perpetual hope, followed by the one where you set your expectations for the year ahead at an unreachable level. How exactly do you respond to loved ones when the “acting” isn’t going that well but you don’t want to bring everyone’s holiday down by telling the truth? Here are some options!
1. The Facebook Effect. Your character online is always the ideal version of you, so you’re going to want to bring that person to every family event. Keep a mental note of the top experiences from the last year that you shared on social media and refer to them. It doesn’t matter if they have nothing to do with your career. Your family is engaging in pleasantries, so if you’re able to successfully twist a conversation about your flatlining dreams into one about a trip to the Brooklyn Flea market or something, then you’ll at least be refining your craft by acting your way out of an uncomfortable situation.
2. Change the subject. Sometimes it’s better to redirect the dialogue to something a bit more universal. You could respond, “How is the acting going? Not so well for the cast of ‘Manhattan Love Story’! I mean, am I right, Grandma?” Then immediately start riffing on ABC. Eventually Shonda Rhimes will become the topic of conversation and you’ll be in the clear.
3. Lie. Tell them it’s going great!
When pursuing a career where self-doubt is a special skill, holidays can be tricky. Especially one that’s literally about being “grateful.” No matter how successful we are or how supportive our families, discussing the business on a holiday is a pain in the ass. We all have that one family member who calls our show a “play” or asks, “Why aren’t you famous yet?” They don’t really get it. They love us, but we fear they might be judging our life choices.
Try to separate what you are projecting on them from what they are actually saying. The knee-jerk reaction we feel in the pit of our stomach when someone asks about our job (or lack thereof) says a lot more about ourselves than we’d like to admit. To avoid this telling emotion, take a moment on Thanksgiving morning to think about everything positive in your life and allow yourself to be grateful. But please, please don’t post that shit on Facebook.
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