Working Actors: For the love of the game!

"Acting is doing, and the doing requires practice.” Photo: Peter Konerko.

By Guy Camilleri

As an actor, you are continually being told by a variety of experts what you need to do to be a ‘working actor.’ And, within the entertainment industry, a widely known definition of a what makes for a working actor is a person who is generating money for acting on a stage, television or movie set.

If you have ever had the experience of acting on one of these platforms, you know how thrilling that act in of itself is. And, if you were fortunate to be compensated for this, man, that is the icing on the cake, right! And, if you were to ask actors, many of them (myself included), would admit that they would or have acted without being compensated.

Following this train of thought… I would ask how did the pursuit of a need to express yourself get to a point where a big part of the focus is on the hope and/or expectation to be compensated as an actor. And, if you aren’t, then can you honestly call yourself an actor?

In saying this, I’m not in any way suggesting actors shouldn’t be compensated for being actors, in fact, in full disclosure, I enjoy being paid for acting and want to be paid as an actor. What I am saying, is that if you are informed with the statistics, you are undoubtedly aware that a tiny percentage of individuals generate enough income to make a living. And, if you are aware that the odds may not be in one’s favor to make a living through acting, why do this?

— In asking and answering this question, if you find yourself on the side ‘that you need to be an actor’, and that you would do it whether or not you generate income as a result, then I believe you don’t need money, or to make money to be an actor, you are an actor.

Now all you need to do is to manage your time to create opportunities to express yourself as an actor. And at present, there is no better time to be acting (writing or directing) in the entertainment industry with the plethora of platforms to do so.

And, if answering this same question, you find yourself on the side ‘that you want to be an actor’ or that you are unsure of why you are doing this; hopefully, you will use the time to honestly explore if, in fact, this pursuit is your passion and purpose. 

Asking the right questions, (even though it can be terrifying), comes with a built-in liberating aspect to it, because in answering honestly, believe it or not, you are one step closer to discovering what you love to do.

Going forward, I invite to rethink what precisely a working actor means to you. To me, and this is only my working interpretation, I think a working actor is someone who is not defined by acting, but in fact, determines for themselves what role acting plays in their life. Along with that, in my opinion, a working actor is someone who is bettering themselves as a person and is regularly developing, practicing, deepening their craft and creating content whether they are being paid or not, because of the joy it brings to oneself and those around you.

In other words, do it for the love of the game and for the love of self.

Guy Camilleri is a Venice-based actor, acting coach, and poet. He teaches on-going classes at his studio, RAW acting studio on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at the Electric Lodge, in Venice. His private coaching specializes in audition preparation, self-taped auditions, original reels, and career consultation. To audit a class, enroll in a course or book a coaching session, visit Follow Guy on Instagram @guycamilleri, @raw_actingstudio and on Facebook @rawactngstudio