There Are No Magic Bullets

Aspiring actors seem especially interested in “magic bullets”.

“Take this class and you’ll start booking today!”
“This is THE audition technique you need to start working!”
“The ONLY class you’ll ever need to be a star!”

Folks like these are trying to sell you on being “overnight success” rather than truly training you.

I have some bad news. There are no magic bullets.

And alas, most overnight sensations, are not.

Jane Lynch’s career seemingly took off last year with her role in the hit GLEE. But if you read a recent interview with her in Vanity Fair you would see a glimpse at the work behind the seemingly “overnight” success — “I went to Cornell University and tried to be an actress, and New York kind of ate me alive. I came back to Chicago and went on tour with Real Live Brady Bunch Tour which took me to New York for another seven or eight months and then to L.A. Within a year, I was settled into L.A. That would have been 1993.” Her Wikipedia gets even more specific, saying she spent 15 years in Chicago, working at places like the Annoyance Theater, The Steppenwolf Theater and The Second City.

One of my students recently began to enjoy a bit of success when several agents, managers and casting directors saw her in a play in Los Angeles. Seemingly over night, she seems to have a bit of heat on her. I asked Kelly, over email, what the time-line was that lead her to this moment, where it seemingly is all finally coming together. Here is what she said:

“Here’s the real time line:

1995-1996 – Studied at American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC.
1996-1999 – Worked around NYC in small theatres.
1999-2007 – Did a sh*t load of theater in Chicago.  About three shows a year when possible.
2007 – Came to LA to do a show.
2007-2008 – Went back to Chicago and did another show
2008 – Moved to LA and did several shows over the next year.
Summer 2009- Summer 2011 – Did one very small Fringe show, two small webs series, one small co-star on a short-lived sitcom, took a LOT of acting classes from you.

That’s pretty much what it looks like.”

When I take a look at that, I see a lot of hard work, perseverance, passion for the art and craft of acting – not just classes on how to book a gig.

Sure, some folks get lucky. But behind most success stories, is a lot of hard work and simply NOT GIVING UP.

Don’t give up. It’s usually a marathon, not a sprint, but if you sweat it out, the finish line will be so sweet.

There are no magic bullets. And overnight sensations, usually aren’t.