By George Konstand
Actor, YOU get paid to act. So, who are YOU?
I hold an interesting position because I sit on the fence between “the artist” and “the business”, I get an insight into both, I empathise with both. The artist seeks to serve their artistry, the business seeks to serve its bottom line – both parties conduct themselves in a way that speaks to their truth. Fair enough! The thing that baffles me though is why an actor, who literally sits in the middle, between their artistry and the business – why there is still such an imbalance between the two worlds. Where is it been written that both worlds should exist separate from one another? Um, I think nowhere, that’s where! and yet…
I don’t believe this is a problem unique to artists, I think this is something that we do, as humans. We draw lines in the sand. We create us and them, we invent great divides and then push ourselves into categories. Even an “artist” who claims to be “non-judgemental” or “free of stereotypes” considers themselves free or apart from a “non-artist”, “judgemental”, “stereotypical” human being – there is nothing unique about this way of thinking – it is egoic and serves you the same way it serves the other. It stems from our innate need to belong to a tribe – I think humans are addicted to belonging – I think “belonging” is more important to us than art, or expression, or business, or even science.
I can think of one reason why some actors find branding challenging – they are addicted to labels. “I’m an Actor.” “I’m an Artist.” “I’m Human.” These are common labels I hear from actors all the time, this is a tribal thing. The problem is casting directors are not looking to cast a tribe, they are looking to cast a “lone star”, someone who shines on their own.
Here’s how I see it. An artist is someone who expresses themselves artistically – no matter what. They are an Artist – unconditionally. An Actor is an artist who exists within a commercial industry which is among other things, like it or not, driven by economics. Actors are paid in return for their acting. This is a business transaction. So why are actors so disproportionately focussed on artistry – when they are in business? I’d argue, it’s a tribal thing – they understand each other’s pain, they speak the same language, they enjoy rallying against the “suit” – they love belonging to the cult of artistry. What if, though, belonging diminished the attraction and appeal of the “lone star”?
If your art is your ability to act, and you wish to get paid for your art – you must dedicate the same amount of time to “the business” as you do to the artistry! Enter the “brand”. Your brand is the business end of your artistry, it is the platform from which you project your three realities: your humanity, your artistry, and the business of acting – in a single message.
Who are you?
Let’s look at what you own; your face is your product, your name is your logo, your personality is your “intent to express” or your “vibe”. You already have a brand! Most don’t realise this and try too hard attempting to invent a brand – which takes away from what they already have – this is how you destroy a brand. The act of trying hard appears inauthentic. Stop trying to be you and just be you! Stop trying to invent your brand, you already have one. Stop trying to be a brand, you already are one. Stop trying to be an Actor – you either act (verb – doing word) or you try to be an Actor (noun – descriptive word). One does, one tries.
I met someone who said: “Hollywood has two markets, those who get paid to act; and a market that makes money off those wanting to be actors.” Be cautious of lines drawn in the sand – we seek out titles as often as we condemn them. This is part of the problem that keeps us in a state of wanting and never achieving.
Ever been told: “You either have it or you don’t!” No. “You either get it, or you don’t.”!
The difference between someone who “has it” and “gets it” is their ability to find themselves, rather than seek it out in the comfort of a tribe. Belong to you. You are not an actor, you are you- YOU get paid to act.