For those not familiar with it, Quora is a website that allows experts to answer questions in a sort-of on-going Q&A session.
Last week actress Aja Naomi King (How to Get Away with Murder, The Birth of a Nation) was asked “What is good advice for young people who want to become professional actors?”
King’s response was extremely detailed analysis of what young actors should do to outside of auditioning to create their own opportunities:
The advice that I was always given when asking for advice about acting was that if I could imagine myself doing anything else, anything else at all, then go do that. It is a brutal industry filled with so much rejection and heartache, you constantly go out of your way to figure out what someone else wants you to be in an audition room and still be authentic to your own instincts as an artist, and it feels like you’re completely in the dark.
In this day and age when there are so many people creating work online and writing their own shows, I wouldn’t tell another actor if you can do anything else go do that. I would tell them to figure out the story they want to tell, to figure out what artists inspire you and why, and then figure out a way you can create that for yourself. However you can fill that need, that hunger, figure out how to do it, then when you go in to those auditions you feel less desperate, because you are already creating something you’re passionate about, even if it’s, say, doing a reading with friends, or creating your own online video project. Create something for yourself that you feel proud of, that you are in control of, that gives you a better understanding of the type of artist you want to be.
Your artistry is a muscle that needs to be exercised, so if all you are doing is auditioning, you’ll never get the satisfaction of fulfilling the need to play the part. So create the part for yourself, so you can exercise that muscle, so you can be ready to go in that room, so that you aren’t looking to others for satisfaction creatively speaking, but instead have already empowered yourself creatively.