...except that I find that it motivates me to reflect on my goals, and that I hadn’t written anything about this goal yet.
I separated this goal from my goal of becoming a working actor partially because I want to be completely honest with myself about my motivations for pursuing each. (Also because accomplishing one does not necessarily mean accomplishing the other.) I should also clarify that this goal falls under the umbrella of some of my larger aspirations, including a desire to achieve fame and movie stardom.
Some of my reasons for wanting to be an actor are seemingly at odds with my reasons for wanting to experience being a “movie star.” Like many people, I see becoming famous as a great way to take revenge on anyone who ever hurt me. (The old “I’ll show them!” mentality that so often gets in the way when I’m doing my work!) Then there’s a slew of psychological reasons why I think I want to be famous. These include a desire to compensate for the validation I feel I’m lacking and a need to “make up for” the negative experiences in my past. Not all of these motivations are the most noble, nor do they necessarily reflect the aspects of acting that originally drew me to this work. At the same time, some of my other reasons for wanting to be the star of a film are completely in line with my goals as an actor.
I could (and should) write for days on end about why I want to be an actor. For the sake of this argument though, here are just a handful of motivating factors, off the top of my head and in no particular order:
1) Acting is the only subject that I have ever felt ridiculously passionate about and is the only discipline in which I have consistently shown an ability to commit. (My mother always marveled at how I could fail to complete homework assignments while simultaneously going above and beyond expectations in order to prepare for a role. I would do this even for teachers and directors whom I hated and for shows of poor quality because I was inherently driven to give my all to any and every role, regardless of the context.)
2) Acting is the area in which my strongest talents lie.
3) I can’t imagine being happy in any other profession.
4) I feel that every experience in my life so far has prepared me to be an actor.
5) I believe I have the capacity to heal others and to inspire others through my storytelling abilities and emotional expression.
6) For whatever reason, I have always been comfortable with the idea of being a channel—of allowing a role, an energy, and/or a story to be conveyed through me.
Reasons I want to be a star (also off the top of my head and in no particular order):
1) Pure, plain old selfish desire to be “the star.” To be the center of the story, to be featured in a movie that ends up being a “vehicle” to promote me. (Not nice to have to admit, but true.)
2) Because I want every [insert f-word here] that ever abused me, raped me, picked on me, and/or treated me like [insert s-word here] to see my name in commercials and magazines and wish they’d never been such losers.
3) Because I believe myself to be someone whom others can relate to, who has been through a lot of both suffering and healing, and who has the capacity to inspire others. I’ve always shared myself rather helplessly with others because I feel so connected to other human beings, often in spite of myself! As an actor, I can guide others on their emotional journeys and serve as a projection screen to help others to find wholeness. This may all sound cheesy, but it’s what I honestly believe. Being in a major film is a way to reach a massive and widespread audience.
4) Because I know I could carry a film the way a lead actor needs to. Because I crave that level of importance and responsibility.
5) Because, ultimately, regardless of whatever I may dislike about the entire “star” system, I want the level of control over my career (not to mention the star salary) that an A-lister enjoys. Frankly, I know I would use that position sooo much more wisely and with so much more integrity than the majority of people who have ended up as film stars.
6) I want to be a positive role model. I hate watching people achieve insane levels of fame and then not use all that attention for good causes! I know I wouldn’t use the limelight selfishly.
7) The same way some people want to see the Pyramids or go bungee jumping before they kick the bucket, I simply feel drawn to this experience. Even if nothing else were to ever come of it, I would still want to have experienced playing a lead role in a film at least once in my life. Also, despite the fact that some of my other reasons to pursue this goal are based on a desire for personal glory, there is also a part of me that would shoot film after film for no pay and no recognition because it would be fun. The idea of getting to work creatively in that context sends a thrill of joy through me the same way I become giddy imagining what it would be like to work with the RSC (goal #16) or to play to a packed house on Broadway (goal #17). I can’t explain why… my feelings just tell me that these experiences are right for me.
Not sure if I have an ultimate point to make in all this. I think that, mostly, I’m trying to figure who I am as an actor (as well as in general). I’m trying to understand myself and what motivates me so that I can keep myself motivated when the going gets rough. More than that, I want to be a great actor. In my opinion, that requires doing this work for the right reasons. In order to make sure that my heart is in the right place, I have to be honest with myself about my true motives and aspirations—from the idealistic to the downright selfish.
I need to examine my real reasons for working my way up these ladders—lest I discover later that I had my ladder propped against the wrong wall! I need to let go of the desires that actually interfere with my ability to be in the moment as an actor. For example, the desire for attention and the desire for validation both hamper me greatly in both practice and performance! Somehow, I need to get over those selfish motivations so that my work doesn’t reek of bs.