I am going to share some valuable information with you that I hope will be valuable to you for decades to come. It has taken me years to come to this discovery and I hope to save you that painful and exhausting journey. And so, without further ado, I present to you my tip of the day:
Never, I repeat, NEVER, ask an actor what he/she has been up to.
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “well that just sounds rude. Why wouldn’t I ask a friend who is an actor what he/she has been up to? I want to know.” No my friends, you do not. You may want to know how your friend is doing but you do not want to know what your friend is doing. Why you may ask? Well, it’s quite simple. Sure, as actors we refer to ourselves as actors. But we are not really professional actors. For the most part we are professional auditioners. We spend for more time preparing to audition than we do to act. And what is an audition but another term for “interview”? Think back to your last job interview — what did you do to prepare? Did you think of all your relevant experience, past jobs and what has brought you to this point in your life — and then prepared answers accordingly? Probably. Now imagine the chances of you getting that job were one in a thousand and whether or not you make some money at what you love doing rides entirely on that one in a thousand shot. You’d probably get pretty darn good at expressing just how awesome you are. And that is why any time you ask an actor friend at a social gathering what he or she has been up to, your conversation will go something like this:
You: Hey man, what have you been up to?
Your friend: A lot actually, yeah, a lot. I did a student film a few months ago which was pretty cool. It was about an ape that eats people, you know and I was the lead so there were a lot of special effects and whatnot. Pretty sweet. And then I’ve been auditioning a lot. A lot. I mean I’m all over town auditioning. All the time. It’s crazy. And I’ve had some callbacks which is great. Lots of people interested. And I’ve been taking some classes, you know, working on my craft. Lot of film classes, improv, little bit of dance, and singing of course. I think I might get a part in an off-off-off Broadway musical any day now. And uh, other than that, you know…serving at the restaurant. Which is great, you know. Great tips. Lots of fun. Loving it. So, yeah, yeah… super busy. Things are great.”
And please note that all of that was said with an uncanny sense of optimism and slightly put-on positivity. Now doesn’t that all sound exhausting? It does. But actors never seem to believe that anyone will believe them if they simply say “Things have been good.” Because it has somehow been instilled in them over the years that saying “things have been good” loosely translates to I haven’t been to an audition in months, I live in a box and I eat my own hair. So instead they overcompensate to nauseating degrees.
So, my friends, my advice to you is this, never ask an actor what he/she has been up to. Ask her if she saw the most recent episode of Modern Family. Ask him how his family’s doing. But whatever you do, DO NOT, ask him/her a general question such as “what have you been up to” because I guarantee you, your actor friend dreads answering that question as much as you will regret asking it.