Bullsh*t Advice for Actors

Here is a piece of “advice” that I detest: You have to pay your dues.

Here is another one: You have to age into your type.

And one more, just for fun: Be patient. Just keep doing what you’re doing.

No! No! No!

This is advice is bullshit. Throw it out. Burn it. Erase it from your memory.

There is no vertical trajectory in the theatre. Although people will tell you that you need to take it one step at a time and “climb the ladder”, the truth is that THERE IS NO LADDER. The people who climb “the ladder” end up spending quite a lot of time on each rung. And IF they are able to get to the top of that ladder, there is no guarantee that they will stay there. In fact, it is more likely that they will simply have to climb all over again, starting at the bottom of the next ladder.

But the people who are willing to take risks, think creatively, and place themselves in the path of opportunity build a trampoline. They jump to where they want to go, and avoid the ladder altogether.


Paying your dues makes sense when your AEA and SAG bills arrive in the mail. But that’s pretty much the only time. If “paying your dues” means waiting in line, accepting low wages, being mistreated by the people who hired you, and any other number of unfortunate scenarios, maybe it is time to start listening to different advice. It also might be time to learn a very simple script: “No.”

Aging into your type is essentially a commitment to waiting. Is that really what you moved to New York City to do? To wait? Instead of waiting to age, you could use your creative resources and your courage to find the people who need what you have to offer RIGHT NOW.

The only time to keep doing what you are doing is when what you are doing is actually producing results. Otherwise, you are simply running on the hamster wheel. Remember Einstein’s [misattributed] definition of insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If you are on the hamster wheel, get off. Try something new. Experiment. Take a risk.

Everyone has an opinion. That doesn’t mean you have to listen to it.

Everyone has advice to offer. That doesn’t mean you have to take it.

You have a vision for your career. Stop waiting. Take a risk and go after it.