Here’s a wonderfully honest and frank account of what it can really be like starting out as a young actor. Thanks to Joseph Segal.
…a few days later and here I am, sat in my parents living room, no job/money and scared about the upcoming year. The thing that scares me most is; Will I be in the same position this time next year?
This time last year I was strolling merrily down Tottenham court road on the way to a little theatre ready to perform an evening show of a comedy play I was a part of. I had just finished a fabulous UK tour of the same show before the previous Christmas. I was short-term renting a small little place in London, no one else in my BA Acting year group was doing the same as me. I had made it. Today I am sat in my parents living room in Bath where I live, I have no job/no money, I have lost two agents, I have hardly worked after the eight week run in London and I am depressed.
I had been given so much opportunity last year, I hear you shouting “So where the hell did it all go wrong?” In all honesty I am still working that bit out. I knew I couldn’t stay in London after the eight week run, I was getting a good wage but not enough to carry on living on my own. I knew I would have to head home to my loving parents whilst they worry endlessly about me and try my best to support me as I chase my dreams unaware of how this affects everyone else. I applied endlessly to jobs I had gained a small agent in London, who rarely got in touch with me and rarely got me an audition. everything simply just stopped. Had I wasted my time in London, putting my mind only to performing and seeing other shows? going out with cast members and friends? should I have been going to actors workshops and listening endlessly to other actors and casting directors telling me their success stories hoping to replicate them in some way? This is when those thoughts come into your head; You can’t do this; You simply aren’t talented enough; You’re wasting your time. my fellow acting students had started to over take me; doing little bits of acting here and there and at least managing to get half-decent jobs elsewhere.
At this point I left my agent to tackle the industry alone again, after all I had gotten my first job a month after graduating as an actor without any help from anyone but myself, I started applying to arts related jobs, arts admin and assistant jobs… funny I had the same luck I did with my acting applications, nada. so It was summer 2016 and there I was standing on my own two feet after not working since march. The company I had toured with and been in London with got in touch for us to perform in York and the again for a bonus extra tour towards the end of the year. things were looking up, I had even found a boutique agency in London willing to take me on and help me. I was getting auditions! ‘Well this is ok’ I told myself. The second tour went as expected, I had a small part, but I loved the cast and crew and I loved going around the country to great theatres. Its not all roses, but it’s a start. I was going to the odd audition; each of them terrible… my confidence was knocked by something I don’t know what; was I out of the routine of them? was I just not as talented as I thought? I’ve always thought I was a quadruple threat; actor/singer/dancer/musician I had all the skills, why was I struggling to get people to see me the way I wanted and to cast me?
Towards christmas of last year I was struggling so much to build my confidence and self-esteem that I forgot everything to do with my career and focused on Christmas, The lovely, sparkly, beautiful distraction that is Christmas. 2017 would be a fresh start and a new beginning right? Wrong, my health was suffering. Not only was I seriously depressed with no determination or confidence but I had to go in and out of doctors for blood tests while they determine whats wrong with a stomach problem I’d been having. My agent called me up to go for an audition, the next day in London. I told her I could couldn’t go due to the doctors and everything else going on, they weren’t best pleased… and decided to ‘give me a break’ for a couple of weeks. I have bigger dreams than anyone else I know, so I’m not not determined, things just weren’t right I suppose. I have always had a tendency to run before I can walk, I suppose looking ahead at my fellow acting students I saw them doing work for free and ‘connecting’ and ‘networking’ with other actors and people in the industry, maybe I had done things all in the wrong order.
So I started applying to 9-5 jobs, I needed money, again no luck there. I had been offered to go on yet another tour with the same company again, with the doctors looming and concentrating on getting a ‘normal’ job, I told them I couldn’t make it. If I am honest, I had gotten everything I could out of that performance and doing small scale touring. This was also the reason I gave to my agent for leaving them. A few days later and here I am, sat in my parents living room, no job/money and scared about the upcoming year. The thing that scares me most is; Will I be in the same position this time next year?
So to the dear actor reading this, I am so sorry I can’t offer you advice or anything certain or even a happy ending, all I can say is I wish you all the love and luck in the world. You have to make your own path, you may not have the little success I did, you may not make the same mistakes as me, but you have to do it yourself in your own way and with the help only you can get for yourself. I will let you in on a little secret though… Anyone can act. Shocking I know! We learn it as children when we tell our parents lies and we don’t stop there, we learnt how to sing when as kids when we shouted for our toy and we learnt to dance in nightclubs. We don’t learn it all at drama school. Anyone can act, but not anyone can be successful, you’re either lucky or unlucky, you either got it or you aint! I have always found myself going to plays and films and thinking ‘I can do that’ and its taken my 22 years to realise actually I probably could, I am just not lucky enough to be able to do it.
So good luck, have fun and when it starts to affect your health it’s not worth it, I hope you’ll be successful In whatever you chose to do just as I wish the same for me. Don’t take it too seriously; others will and they will drag you down, concentrate on yourself your career is precious and fragile you need to protect it. Love and Luck, Joseph Segal x