Imitation – That Sincerest Form of Flattery

A smart man (and I forget who,) said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I actually discovered someone who is probably my greatest detractor (and I am just one of around 40, 000 actors in London alone,) seems to copy most things I do. And this despite thinking everything I do is absolute rubbish.  She may well be right but the one thing I don’t do is legislate on what other people think and I wouldn’t even begin to try.

What I find amusing is that despite this person haranguing me for the past month, she now does the things I do.  She makes more use of Twitter in the way I do, she follows everything I do and write about, and…Wait for it…She is now actually writing her very own WordPress Blog!  Before our paths crossed, they had never heard of  Wordpress, let alone even did any of these things. What flattery!

And no one could be more pleased than I that they are moving forward. I don’t think there will ever be a cease-fire of any sort but like that smart man said ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’, and I am indeed flattered that while they think I am a terrible actor, who writes ‘crap’ articles, they seem inspired enough and influenced enough by my pursuits to start writing a blog on the same platform as myself.  I hope they can be as warm and as engaging as Yours Truly because so far they have failed on every level.

To answer their critique on my Acting Career or rather Acting in general.  Unless one has ever embarked on an acting career, no one really knows what an actor has to deal with.  It is true I have been involved in Acting for the past ten years but there is no such thing as overnight success. My aims as an Actor, was to be good enough, talented and driven enough to make a career out of it.  Being a household name isn’t what it is about for me.  As Whoopi Goldberg once said, that is pure luck.  I do what I do because I love what I do. and would like to be handsomely paid for my efforts.  I have bills to pay like everyone else.

Imagine dealing with uncertainty on a daily basis, not knowing where the next job is coming from.  Attending interviews (in this case auditions,) for every single job you are put forward for, over weeks, months even.  It is a very different dynamic and can be a very intense and lonely career.  Ask one thousand actors what acting is and you will get as many different answers because the career of an actor affects each actor in different ways.  There is no model of success.  Hard work over many years can and will pay off in the long run.  Or, it might not happen at all.  One actor friend even asked me to write a recommendation for her.  This lady is one of the most talented actors I have ever known.  Her work has always impressed me and she contacted me to write a recommendation.  I considered it an honour and wrote it for her.  Clearly she thinks more of my efforts but she has actually seen some of my work, unlike a certain person but I digress.

For myself, I run the gauntlet every other unknown, hard working actor runs.  You make sure you have an agent (at the time of writing I have two), get to as many auditions and castings as you can (no easy feat,) and make sure you network as much as you can.  In person helps but make sure you have a strong online presence via a Social Media Network, a Website, registering and completing a profile on such Websites as LinkedIn for example and joining the groups of interest, connecting and engaging with those people. This is part of the game by the way.  We are not even talking about being on a stage on a television set or on a film set/location.  The game has changed immensely.  There is so much work one has to do outside of actually working and that is actually managing one’s career.  And I have gotten damn good at it over the past eight years.

I began in 2004 building an online presence.  This began with Casting Call Pro, the year they began their directory and casting service.  I discovered them by accident but it has been such an important resource for me because that was my starting point for building up my online presence.  After that it was actually getting my credits onto the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).  I could go much further but just googling my name speaks volumes.

It is always easy to write off people but unless one has walked in that person’s shoes (in my case the last ten years, longer if you take in my formal training,) then it is hard to take someone seriously who so glibly writes off a significant part of one’s life.  Especially as they have made no contribution or was with you on each and every step of those ten years.  And they were ten long, hard years.  Nothing has changed.

Nobody achieves overnight success.  Many of the finest actors and entertainers worked long and hard over many years to learn, perfect their craft, develop themselves and prepare themselves for success.  For some it came sooner, others later and for others it didn’t come at all.  I like to think I am preparing for the day success comes my way.  My success would be to be working and doing different things as an actor, whether this be in theatre, television, film or some other media.  Indeed my career to date has encompassed all of the above with the odd foray into computer gaming on a large scale or the occasional ‘Green Screen’ acting or a corporate work as an actor.  I am an actor who does different things.  What else can I say?  It is what I do.

It is not impossible nor implausible that occasionally a Hollywood Producer may cross your path.  Again one’s detractor finds that laughable but it is not the first time I have met a Hollywood producer. I have had meetings earlier in my career.  I remember in 2004 on two separate occasions meeting such a producer. The first time was while working on the movie ‘Sahara’.  The second assistant director on that Movie introduced me to one of the main producers.  The second time was being auditioned by another at The Spotlight Rooms in Central London. That very same year, I was working on a film that the Weinstein’s were producing and Harvey Weinstein walked onto set.  It happens for God’s sake.  Why is that seen to be so pathetic I wonder?

Earlier this year I began corresponding with someone from America. They mentioned they would be visiting London but as I had theatre commitments, a meeting could not take place.  It was on their recent visit we got around to talking about my Shakespearean role in ‘Twelfth Night’ and my theatre work generally, when they mentioned their interest in all things theatre and their job in green-lighting movie projects.  Given this, we agreed to meet up but due to complications on their part, the meeting was cancelled.  That’s Show Business.  Shit happens!  It always does.  Will there be a future meeting?  I have no idea.  People move on, people forget.  The man is aware of me.  Was aware of me.  That is something but that doesn’t mean he is going to cast me in his next movie.  It is that tough.  Life is filled with such lost opportunities. It (Opportunity,) knocked.  It will knock again so long as I am doing what I am doing.  I have worked with directors and producers my entire career.  What is the big deal?  Nemesis doesn’t know the first thing about what I do. Earlier this week I struck up a conversation on Facebook movie group page with a US-based film producer who is in the process of setting up a UK-based film production to begin filming in  late 2013/early 2014.  If one is networking as one should, the impossible becomes possible at times.  I haven’t been cast in anything but I have talked to people. That is the business I am in.  You make your own luck and possibilities.

Some of the best advice I have been given have come from people who work in the business, whether they are actors, writers, directors, producers, crew members, sound engineers, special effects people, location managers, drivers even!  From the top person down to the runner and vice-versa. From the top to the bottom, from the bottom to the top. And it is these people whose opinions matter more because ultimately they are the people who I will be working with and have worked with.  One director probably gave me the best piece of advice I have ever been given.  And it was:’ Whenever anybody says you are bad, just ask yourself who’s saying you are bad? And what have they done?’  Now in the case of the source for this article, I know full well what she has done and that amounts to nothing.  She does not have ten days history in what she does, let alone ten years. In fact in two of their chosen professions, I have more of a history than they do oddly enough and neither is really an interest, more of a challenge I succeeded at on a certain level. Although I have to admit to like working with photographers especially learning their technique in the use of light.

All I am getting is an example of what I might expect later on down the line from others.  But right now my advice to said detractor is to get on with developing their career and if they need to know how to do that, then there are plenty of examples I have given above, not to mention the past ten years.  They are imitating what I am doing so why stop now?  It is working in their favour so I must be doing something right and successful because they are using my formula and actually succeeding. To that I say Bravo!  You have proved that via trial error over the past ten years, what I do actually works thus far.

I rest my case.


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