5 Tips for Successfully Dating an Actor

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As my friend, Nina Bartula, put it, “Dating an actor is one of the most exhilarating adventures you will ever embark on. You will be partner to an individual who is a voracious student of the human condition and possesses an unquenchable zest for spontaneity. We are compassionate, brave, intelligent, fun, funny, and damn good listeners. What more could you ask for?”

But it ain’t all unicorns, rainbows, and butterflies. We’re sensitive artists and there are a few things we need you to understand and do for us in order for our relationship to be truly fulfilling.

1. You have to believe in us. First and foremost, you have to believe in us. No one wants to be with someone who doesn’t respect what they do. There will be times when we’ll be doubting ourselves and in those moments, we need you to reaffirm that we’re artistically valuable and doing the right thing by pursuing our dreams.

We want you to be proud of us. We want you to take an interest in our work and our careers. When you’re telling people what we do, we want you to say, “He’s an actor,” not, “He’s a server/office temp, etc.”

We’re one audition away from a booking that could change both of our lives forever. Until that day comes, we need you in our corner. Not only will it give us a loving foundation to plant our feet on, it will give us an advantage over everyone else out there who is at it alone.

Give us that gift.

2. Be understanding about our constantly changing schedule. We really wanted to go to that thing with you, but we have an audition tomorrow and we have to stay in and prep. We didn’t want to cancel our travel plans or inconvenience you, but we have to go to work. It doesn’t matter what day or time. We’re always on call.

It doesn’t matter if it is a one-line co-star role or a series lead on a network show. Each opportunity is a blessing and we can’t take it for granted. Moreover, our team of reps and managers are working hard to develop our careers and bring us these opportunities. We can’t let our team down. We owe it to them, not just ourselves, to bring our A-game to each audition and if that means disruptions to our schedules, it’s our honor to do it. Carpe diem. First-world problems.

The upside is that our success gives us flexibility in our schedules that most people can’t afford. Once we’re working actors, we may be able to take weeks or even months off to travel or just enjoy life. Some jobs pay really, really well and our paychecks can often come in big tranches. As the saying goes, it’s either feast or famine for us.

3. Be willing to help us rehearse. We may not always want you to, but we need you to be willing. There might be that one time that we couldn’t meet with our coach or find a friend from class to read with us or put us on tape. Or we might not yet have anyone else to help us. We need you.

But we need you in a very specific way. You need to follow our lead. You need to ask us what you can do to be helpful. Unless we ask, don’t direct us or give us input. Don’t judge anything. We may just need you to read the lines and press record. We may need to do 10 takes, or 50. It doesn’t matter. It is what it is and we need you to be patient and do whatever it takes.

It’s possible that you might become our favorite person to rehearse with, the power behind the throne, our secret weapon. You love us, so we can lean on you more than we can others, and if you not only let us, but make us feel like you’ve got our back 24/7, we’ll love you for it and have another advantage that most others don’t have. Once our system is nailed down, we’ll become a booking machine.

4. Be patient with our emotional highs and lows. We’re going to book a lot of things. And, we’re going to come close to booking some really big things. And then we’re going to blow some auditions so badly that it’s going to really bother us. Expect it. It’s going to happen.

The stakes are so high for us; the work, the credits, the money, the validation, pleasing our team, the CDs, our parents, and shutting up the doubters (of which we are sometimes the biggest). As much as we try to be Zen about the whole thing, at the end of the day, our bodies are our instruments, they get used in wacky ways, and we can get messy. We might have a multi-cam comedy, an action drama, a silly kids show, and then a soap opera audition where we find out we lost a child, all in the same day. That will just take a toll, apart from whether we book any of them or not.

So be understanding. If we need space, give it to us. If we just need to lay our heads on your lap while you run your fingers through our hair to calm us, do it, and add a kiss on the head every once and a while. Help us keep our home a sanctuary where we can recharge for the next day, when we have to do it all again.

5. Optional, but worth huge brownie points: Be a great wing. When we’re out at parties, screenings, plays, or industry/networking events, we’d really love for you to not only be there, but to help make us look good. If you’re not an actor yourself, you have the opportunity to build relationships with industry people without their concern that it’s just for self-serving reasons. And if they think it’s because you’re trying to be supportive of us that just makes you look good, like an awesome partner.

We all want to be part of our own kind of power couple. It will mean so much to us when we see you embrace our kooky friends, engage with our art and theirs, and stay right by our side when we need you and giving us space to connect with someone when we need it.

Together, we can own this town.

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Shaan Sharma
Shaan Sharma is a session director, on-camera acting teacher, and author of “A Session Director’s Guide to Commercial Acting in L.A.”
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