So you have seen your friend or family on TV or have heard the good things (or bad) about acting and you have thought to yourself, "I think I would like to try out acting.The fame, the money..I must get that too."
If that is the thought progression as you sit there and ponder, let me tell you right now that you are not meant to be an actor! Please do not waste your time and other people’s time and by other people I mean professional actors and film makers whose livelihood depend on the acting industry. Harsh? I know, but somethings just cant be put across less bluntly.
Why? Well, for the simple reason that ACTING IS NOT A CHOICE!. If you can, please tattoo that on your forehead.
Acting is not something you one day wake up and think that you can also do it and want to try it out because of ABC reasons. If anything you do not choose acting, acting chooses you. It is not an after thought nor a negotiation with thyself. It is THE ONLY THOUGHT. (Another tattoo). It is either you want to do it or you do not. Not try or maybe I can. Its either I will and be ready to get into it with all your being or you do not.
Now stick with me here, it gets more complicated.
I will start by shunning the hypothesis which states “Everybody can act!”, right? Wrong! I hear someone say that and I just want to pick up my make believe club and smack them across the cranium. (Hoping it will not tamper with the 1st tattoo). That is just a theory/conept that tries to say, at the very right time and location in whatever you are doing; one can make a movie out of you. By sitting still on a chair or by lying to someone, you are, in its basic form, portraying a character that would land a role in a big time Hollywood movie. It does not however make you the next Kenneth Ambani, Raymond Ofula,Lizz Njagah or Mkamzee Mwatela just to name but a few kenyan actors who pursue acting with all their mights and consider it a career. Your human instincts and moral fiber (in this case, your lying) is as innate as it gets. You will probably not portray the same emotions if asked to lie again because this time you are aware of what you are about to do whilst in the 1st lie, your natural instinct were in place. You are conscience and when in that state, its harder to portray an emotion on cue.
Secondly, to repeat an action over and over again and each time doing the same thing over and over again and to make it look perfect, is not as easy it looks.
Yes, this therefore implies, acting is not something natural. If you ask me, it is a supernatural act. Acting entails you being someone else. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe( I also do not know him, I just goggled this) said “Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.”
Professional actors are fulfilling something called A destiny (tattoo) in order to be happy. Yes, I said Destiny and No this is not one of those fantasy movies. If they do not become actors,they are probably going to end up stuck in a 8-5 job but their minds will never be at rest and they will always be unhappy because they are not doing something that they were born to do. If you do not have that primal instinct that begs you to act, then please, do not pretend that you want to be an actor.
Truth is, acting as a profession in Kenya will not make you rich nor will it make you that famous either.(that is slowly changing though). Ask those who have become famous and most would absolutely agree that if they could trade in the fame for something else or just appear on TV or theatre without necessarily being famous, they would do so in an instant. As for those who have gotten financial stability out of acting as a career in Kenya,I must admit, those are the exceptions and not the rule.
As it is, Kenya’s acting scene, as much as it is picking up, is not yet fully at the point where once can say, “ I can support my family through acting solely.” and do not get me started on the long hours and sleepless nights you might endure. The reason why the people who do it are at it day in day out is because they have no choice. They love doing it and cannot see themself doing anything else. It is not because they failed in their final exams and are looking for an easier way out. It is not because they want to become renowned and their friends can like them more. It is not because they think acting is easy. It is not because of the money, which is not much anyway (yet). It is because, if they do not do it, something will be missing in their lives.
Plus, it is work. Yes. Acting is a professsion. It might have been a hobby for you when growing up but out here, acting is a business. You may think, I went to high school and were the best actor in your drama festivals. Out here, none of that matters. You may think you are talented and therefore its only a matter of time before someone spots you. Out here, it doesnt matter if you are not ready to sell yourself and get to where the opportunities are.
So if you are asking yourself questions like, should I start acting? Is it right for me? Do not even dare start this journey because you will be joining the bandwagon of quitters who have nothing nice to say about the acting industry. Its human nature to complain when you are not making it and form reasons and theories as to why you are failing.
It however doesnt chane the fact that acting is not a choice. It is not a hobby. It is a profession like any other that demands respect in its own self.
Everyone thinks they can act but not everybody can act. A typical day for an actor is busier than that of a teacher or engineer (no pun intended to those professions).
Now, I know I may have painted acting like a cult or sect of some sort and the hardest thing to do on earth but the truth is, it is!…ok fine am joking there ( no tattoo for that). All I am trying to say is, reflect carefully before you step into this career with no uncertainity and lacks security. Do not drop everything else to join acting and get disappointed because it was not everything you had hoped it would be. at the very least, make a plan, do your research well, know what it entails, pick an acting book, talk to people who have been there and what they did to make it. If the passion is not leading you to it, maybe..just maybe..its not for you.
This is not to discourage upcoming actors from pursuing this career, after all, it does have its numerous advantages like when the money is good, it is really good. The affection and attention you get from strangers can boost your ego to unimaginable levels. However, the single most important advantage of acting is fulfilling your dream, your passion. To make yourself whole and for that you may have to make sacrifices.If this is not one of the reasons you want to start acting or If you do not have the heart for it then I guess the answer is no, acting is not the right choice of career for you.
After reading all that and you still feel this is for you, then read HOW TO KICK START YOUR ACTING CAREER IN KENYA
If you are an upcoming actor and have questions please leave a comment below or visit our Facebook actors.co.ke page and get acquainted with the many actors there that will be glad to aid you embark on your acting journey.
Written By Gerald Langiri