When I first moved to LA, I had this great idea. I was going to move to there for just one year and if, after one year, I hadn’t booked anything, I was going to move back to Sydney. After just three weeks of living in LA, I realized it was going to take more than one year. In fact, it could take many years. This realization was quite scary for me. It meant I was leaving Sydney for good and that a lot of the instability and uncertainty of pursuing a career in acting in LA was going to be my whole life. The safety blanket of living of Sydney was gone and I was faced with an arduous road ahead. The journey in understanding the sheer amount of resolute and unwavering dedication required to pursue a career in acting in a city filled with such incredible talent was overwhelming. However, I realized very early on, that in order to survive and succeed in LA, you really had to commit, there was no half in and half out. The past couple of months, I have been in Sydney spending time with my family and this short visit and time spent away from LA has truly allowed me to reflect wholeheartedly on my life there, my career, my commitment to acting and what it really means to be dedicated to something.
Spending time in Sydney, in a city not based almost entirely on the entertainment industry in the way LA is, has highlighted to me the choices, sacrifices and dedication that being an actor requires and this reflection has allowed me to consider dedication in a way I have not considered before. It is with this in mind that I decided to research and explore the art of being dedicated, what it takes and what does it mean. I hope, as always, it reminds you to pursue your dreams with a full heart, an attitude of self-love and with a tenacious dedication that inspires those around you.
‘The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth and the capacity for sacrifice. Yet these virtues make them vulnerable, they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.’ – Ernest Hemingway
DEDICATION & LOVE
When I started researching dedication, the undertone was overwhelmingly aggressive. Notions surrounding ideas of dedication such as commitment and perseverance are synomous with quotes all over the internet, phrases such as ‘dedication doesn’t have an off season,’ and ‘obsessed is the word the lazy use to describe dedication.’ All of those incite a kind of imagery, that of a screaming coach, or a disappointed strict parent. Sometimes that imagery works, sometimes we need to look at our goals and commit to doing whatever it takes to get there. The issue with such a hardcore approach to commitment is how long can you sustain that attitude? Does approaching your career with that mindset allow room for self-love? Notions surrounding hard work and dedication seem to suggest a kind of ‘go hard or go home’ ideology, that in order to make it, you must give it your all, at all costs. But actually being dedicated to something starts and ends with love. The pursuit of any dream should not begin with a desire to punish yourself in order to succeed. Dedication should come from passion, you love something and you decide to commit yourself to pursuing it. There will certainly be sacrifices and sometimes the price you pay to pursue something as bold as a career in acting will come at a cost but in order to dedicate yourself everyday, the foundation of your dreams should be love. If we are able to come from this place not only is it easier to pursue your goals and grind day in and out but the way you approach your work and interact with other creatives in your life will be joyful, ensuring those around you are inspired and encouraged by your drive.
YOU’RE AN ACTOR, DEAL WITH IT
Recently, one of my closest friends gave me a pep talk, a few wines into our conversation and after me listening to me lamenting the instabilities of pursuing an acting career; he gave a well-earned speech. He highlighted that as an actor, there is simply no room for doubt; that I needed to be almost arrogant about my goals and my dedication to my career. At one point he said, ‘you have made your bed, so go lie in it,’ (code phrase for, you are an actor- deal with it). To me, this hit home because as actors we can get stuck in a pattern of comparison and this is a dangerous path to walk. For the past couple of months, I have been in Sydney spending time with my family. Being away from the bubble of LA and living in Sydney has really allowed me to reflect on my life as an actor living in LA and the choices I have made. Coming back to Sydney where many friends have since settled down and started families with ‘normal jobs’ and a certain level of stability is a far cry from the life I led in LA. In many ways this trip has been comforting for me, realizing that although it is scary at times to not have such stability, also realizing that I am happy with my life in LA and the pursuit of my dreams has encouraged me and validated my choices. The timeline of your life as an actor likely will not follow the usual benchmarks of friends and family. You might not buy the house or the car at the time many people around you do, you might not have the privilege of a stable job and income but to be a dedicated actor is to learn to measure your life differently. Being dedicated will mean sacrifice and one of the greatest sacrifices we make, is that of ‘normality.’ A dedicated actor should measure their life through the ability to learn and evolve constantly and to find joy in the journey as opposed to seeking validation from a result.
DEDICATION IS A FULLTIME JOB
Recently my agent in Sydney told me she only signs fulltime actors. Confused by what this meant, I enquired further. She told me she will not sign an actor that has a fulltime job or sees acting as a hobby or past time, basically she only signs actors with a fulltime dedication to the craft. I have since thought about this a lot; I have never had a fulltime job or pursued anything else wholeheartedly with my life. Other than going to university for writing, I have largely focused solely on acting. I feel lucky to have always known what I wanted to do with my life, although littered with difficulties; many people are not afforded such certainty. In order to say dedicated as an actor, seeing acting as a fulltime pursuit, even when you may not be working on a project is key. It might sound obvious but staying in class, watching interviews with great actors, watching content and reading scripts are an important part of pursuing acting with a fulltime dedication. In order to pursue creative goals, daily commitment to the craft even when you are not as immersed in acting as perhaps you might hope, ensures you say dedicated and on path to success.
Throughout my research into dedication and the pathways to success, I came to realize that dedication can be a kind of misunderstood buzzword, synomous with notions of punishment and sacrifice. But in reality dedication is the act of pursuit, to be truly dedicated to anything, there is no requirement for a slave like mentality, in fact this attitude is largely detrimental. Dedication is born and rooted in love. To rededicate yourself, no matter where you might be on your journey, is simply to immerse yourself in your love of acting and to go back to the reasons you pursued acting in the first place. There is a great quote by Pro Fighter Connor McGregor that says, ‘there is no talent here, this is hard work.’ Success is any field, requires a dedication and commitment that involves daily work, it means looking around you and sometimes not having the same things or being on the same timeline as others because you have sacrificed in order to dedicate yourself to a pursuit. To be able to pursue your dreams is such a gift, it takes a courage and tenacity so few people truly possess, don’t waste this journey on comparison or self doubt, there is little room for it. Even if your are not exactly where you hope to be in your career, take solace and satisfaction in your personal dedication to your dreams, it is only through hard work and commitment that we can truly find success.