Yes indeed, you are a new Brand. When a new brand enters the market place at your local supermarket it is saying – I am different from any other brand! I am new and I am special! There is nothing like me! Try me!
When you enter the show business market place, you must be willing to say exactly the same ideas, loudly and with great clarity. “I am a new and special Brand!” And mean it! “Aye, there’s the rub,” to quote Shakespeare. Can you honestly declare the specialness of your unique Brand?
A brand’s survival on the grocery shelf depends on whether or not those who purchase the item are convinced the new brand can produce what it offers. It isn’t enough to put the product on the shelf. The product must live up to its hype. The product must sell itself.
All products which wind up on the grocery shelf have been tested. Not once, but several times. The product has proven its worthiness to be displayed.
Now off the grocery shelf and back to you. Where will you be tested so you know your brand is worthy of being displayed in the professional world of show business? Well, if you are a follower of my articles in Pageantry magazine you will probably suspect, and correctly so, what comes next. Acting classes!
Back to the grocery shelf. When a business sends its product out of be tested, it sends it to those places which are trusted for their accuracy. Their investment needs the assurance of the best. The business researches the success of these organizations until they are assured they will not be wasting their money and will get the best for that money. You must do the same when you’re looking for a place to learn and develop your acting skills and Brand.
The first article I wrote for Pageantry magazine a number of years ago broached the subject of the different approaches to teaching the craft of acting. I will do my best to condense the information previously given.
A History Lesson
The craft of acting as it is taught today traces its beginnings to a Russian director and actor, Konstantin Stanislavski, and a playwright, Anton Chekhov. Stanislavski, encouraged by Chekhov, developed an approach to acting which would work well with the coming of a new age. Electricity played a large part in the need for this new approach to acting as did the changes in society. Little by little, the world was becoming more enlightened. Audiences were introduced to a reality of theatre they had never seen before. New playwrights like Ibsen, Strindberg, Shawand Chekhov himself were writing about real people in real situations.
We jump ahead to the late 1920’s. A group of young people in New York City had become disillusioned with the quality of acting at that time and decided to band together and create a company of actors, writers, producers and directors, who elevated the craft. Their goal was to present an honest truth on stage which represented life as they knew it to be.
I mentioned just four of these then young people, although every one of the participants of what became known as, The Group Theatre, deserve mentioning for their contributions: Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, Robert Lewis, and Uta Hagen. Unfortunately, these great gurus, as I call them, are no longer with us. However, their many disciples are out their teaching their specific approaches to the craft.
Once you have studied a minimum of two years, you are ready to take your Brand and place it in the market place.
If you are an alert customer when shopping, you will note how frequently a Brand upgrades. They upgrade the quality of its contents. They also upgrade the packaging. As the Brand learns more about what the customer wants, they adjust. So too must you as the new Brand in your profession.
A Brand, especially when new in the market place, must exhibit clearly how that Brand will benefit the consumer. If you are an actor who is looking for an agent, you need to understand the agent is looking for a client who is going to make their lives better. At first, the agent may be asking himself, “If I sign this actor, am I assured the actor will at least earn enough for me to pay the light bill?” As your Brand improves and grows in value, the agent may then ask, “If I sign this actor, can I be assured they will earn enough for me to buy that beach house in Malibu?” We only buy Brands that promise they will give us something in return.
To be entitled is defined as a privilege or as one’s due. Lately, the word entitlement has been used to frequently label those who take credit for accomplishments they didn’t achieve. What comes to mind are children of wealthy parents who act superior to others who don’t have the same good fortune. Or, those parental genes who have produced a beautiful face on their child or whose genes produced a superior ability for sports. Then again, perhaps a superior intellect or a proficiency in music or the arts. A wonderful recent film, Wonder, tells a story of a boy who was born disfigured. One parent had a very rare gene which resulted in his condition. None of the children I’ve mentioned so far were responsible for their good fortune. Nor was the child in Wonder responsible for what might be conceived as his misfortune. The good fortune and the bad misfortune shouldn’t be rewarded or punished.
There is a price, or better yet, a responsibility, to improve upon or rise above what fate has given us.
I can hear the arguments already taking place on what I have written. Well good! Subjects this important should be debated. However, maybe the arguments for and against would be less heated if, instead of Entitled, we substitute the word Responsible.
I am responsible for all the good fortune that’s come my way!
Well, that’s easy. But, what about, I am responsible for all the misfortune that’s come my way!
Unless self-imposed, no one is responsible for their misfortune, but they are responsible for what they do about it.
You are who you are and that’s the truth. That is, you are who you are at this moment, and you’ll be what you are destined to be by what you do about it. Kirk Douglas had four sons. I can speak of two of his children, neither of which were entitled to a successful career in show business. Both these boys were very nice people. Michael, who I knew as MK, was a working actor doing off-Broadway in New York, learning his craft. Eric, I knew as an acting student in my class in LA. Michael earned his eventual success by hard work and dedication. Eric, who had the same advantages, didn’t have anywhere near the success of his older brother. He wasn’t willing to do what was necessary. I can tell you with all honesty, Eric was a sweet and kind person, as was Michael, so it had nothing to do with deserving. It has all to do with hard work and perseverance.
You are only entitled to all that comes to you through your efforts. Nothing more and nothing less.
I wish that you have the where-with-all to make all your dreams come true. Do what’s necessary to make your Brand the best-selling product of all time.