For any young person out there dreaming of being in showbiz – do it! Follow your dream. But remember, you don’t get discovered sitting in your living room. Get out there and make it happen. Put on your own shows if you have to, or make your own small budget films; be seen. Learn from your mistakes so that next time you’ll be better, and the time after, well, maybe even great.
Be prepared to be praised and savaged – it’s all a rite of passage – no one gets out unscathed. And, most importantly, don’t take no for an answer. If all the people sitting behind desks had all the answers, then everything they’d do would be a success and it quite plainly isn’t. Remember that the Beatles got turned down by 16 record companies – but got signed by the 17th.
Make sure you want to succeed for the right reasons. You have to love what you do, and also the business. If you don’t, then success could be your worst nightmare. And to some, it is. If you’re only in it for the money think about this: if you devoted as much time, study, work, blood, sweat and tears to any other profession you’d probably make far more dough than you ever will out of showbiz. Unless you’re one of the very lucky ones. So, by loving it, at least that gets you through the long cold nights of rejection, self-doubts, criticism and loneliness it can bring.
There’s an old movie that I think sums it up pretty well. It’s called “Career” and stars Anthony Franciosa, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine and Carolyn Jones – it was written by the blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo.
The story follows the young actor Sam Lawson who’s bent on breaking into the big time at any cost. As he continually strives to establish himself as an actor, suffering the slings of rejection, it costs him his marriage. Then he gets drafted into World War Two, then just as he’s getting ahead, the Korean War comes along, then, just as a big break comes, he ends up being blacklisted because some of his friends, unbeknown to him, just happened to have been communists in their youth. He then ends up working as a waiter. Then winds up on the skids and totally humiliated. Finally, now an old man, he gets an offer from an old friend to star in an off-Broadway play. Not only does it become a hit but so does he. And in the final scene, just as he is about to walk onstage, someone says to Lawson, “Was it worth it?” To which Lawson replies, defiantly – almost incredulous at the question, “Yes. It was worth it.”
I’ve been blessed in many ways and have had my share of successes as well as a few disasters in both life and work – but I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Although I have worked damn hard for any luck that came along.
There have been many I’ve seen along the way who possessed genius talent – only to have their hearts broken, their dreams smashed, the loss of their families and friends, their health damaged as well as their reputations, their ideas stolen; winding up bitter, drunk, hooked on drugs to numb their pain, or just plain despairing.
This dream is not for the faint-hearted.
But if you need it as much as you need to breathe, follow your passion. Life is a long time to live with regret. In the words of Nike, “Just do it!” And maybe one day we’ll get to work together. Now wouldn’t that be nice?
There’s no other more fitting closing lyric than the song “The Curtain Falls” made famous by the great Bobby Darin, and written by Sol Weinstein.
Off comes the make-up,
Off comes the clown’s disguise
The curtain’s falling, the music softly dies
But I hope you’re smiling as you’re filing out the door
As they say in this biz, that’s all there is,
There isn’t any more
We’ve shared our moment
And as the moment ends
I’ve got a funny feeling we’re parting now as friends
Your cheers and laughter will linger after they’ve torn down these dusty walls
If I had this to do again
I would spend it with you again…
People say I was made for this
Nothing else would I trade for this and just think I get paid for this…
Good night Ladies and Gentlemen
And God love you.
Lights fade. The curtains falls to end Act One.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and prepare for Act Two. I have a funny feeling – the best is yet to come.
(C) Frank Howson 2014