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The Acting Fallacy

Monday, October 28th, 2013
Posted in Advice by Joel Gross

People who are born in Los Angeles have a funny joke whenever they hear someone is an actor here. The conversation goes like this:

Native: So what do you do for a living?

Actor: I am an actor.

Native: Ah, so you wait tables.

This is a very true statement. I know a lot of actors in Los Angeles and almost universally they have made a few bucks acting, but mostly make their money doing entry level jobs.

People see all of the rich and famous actors on television and think “Gee whiz, that could be me! I am a good actor and I am just as good/unique looking!”. The fact they don’t realize is that there are literally millions of other people in Los Angeles also thinking the same thing… and to be truthful its probably true for several hundred thousand of them. The problem is that there can only be so many big name actors with the big salaries that match… I think there is a few hundred of them out there, but that means that the 99.99% of the rest of them don’t make any money and have no fame.

Another factor in the acting fallacy is that there is no clear indicators of defeat for most actors. They all end up helping each other make small theater productions or Youtube movies or they get a bit part in a larger movie, so they have an illusion that they are actually going to go somewhere. Basically they all get together and give themselves positive reinforcement, which continues their drive to be actors. A similar career to acting is athletics: millions of people want to be professional athletes with the riches, fame and fun daily job. The difference between acting and athletics is that athletics is much better at providing negative reinforcement. If you lose games as an athlete and don’t get certain statistics people laugh at you when you say you want to be a pro athlete. The peer pressure and negative reinforcement is enormous in pushing you to consider another career.

Are there other careers that people pursue with falsely placed hopes like acting? I guess music might be another field…