Much like the 12 questions below, I have also asked myself similar questions. If you have the ability to answer them honestly, you may surprise yourself. My answers are in red. And I clearly am ready and able to have a career in the entertainment industry. Enjoy!
1. Is acting the only career that will make you happy? Would you be miserable if you only pursued acting for fun? Entertaining keeps me alive. It is the air I breathe. I can't imagine doing anything else. It's the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before going to bed. It's my life.
2. Are you comfortable not knowing where your next paycheck will come from? Or realizing that it may depend on something as arbitrary as your looks or the way you deliver a line? Does security sound like death to you? I wasn't at first. Not knowing whether or not you can pay the bills is the scariest feeling on earth. But, like anything in life, if you want it bad enough you find a way to make it work. As for my looks being the make it or break it, I know. But I know where I fit in the industry. I would never submit myself for a role that wasn't for me. If they are looking for a tall, blonde bombshell...I'm going to stay home that day. But if they are looking for someone who is saucy and sassy with a larger-than-life personality..I'll be first in line. You have to know who you are and where you fit. Being honest with yourself is key!
3. Can you face rejection after rejection and still retain hope? Are you happy to attend dozens—even hundreds—of auditions without getting cast? Will your belief in yourself be enough to buoy you through the hard times? I don't mind hearing the word 'No' because it only means someone is going to say 'Yes.' I know I am not perfect for every show and I know there is a lot of competition. I also look at every rejection as a part in God's plan for me. He'll put me where I'm supposed to be.
4. Are you comfortable with your physical appearance? We’re all too tall, too short, too hairy, not hairy enough, the wrong type, the wrong sex or the wrong ethnicity at some point. Are you self-confident enough to cope with this kind of scrutiny? Of course not but I'm not going to hide away in my house crying about it. I watch what I eat and I try to get out and move. I know I can do more about it and I will but I also don't use it as an excuse NOT to audition. I know there is a place for me in this industry because I have been working non-stop since 2008. And it's my confidence that lands those roles. Own who you are!
5. Are you emotionally healthy? Show business can be a breeding ground for drug abuse, eating disorders, and depression. If you’re already dealing with personal issues, better to seek help before diving in. I'm as emotionally healthy as the next person. No one is 'normal'. I have my own hang ups and so doesn't the rest of the world. But I'm a strong person and I have always been able to overcome my shortcomings in order to forge ahead.
6. Are you prepared to work long hours, at times for no pay? Can you work evenings, weekends, early mornings, and sometimes even in the middle of the night? This made me laugh. I already do this owning my own business. So I guess the answer is YES YES YES!
7. Do you have a positive attitude? Are you persistent, adaptable, and willing to go the extra mile? Sure do. You cannot be a 'oh woe is me' person and be successful at anything really...well, at least that's what I believe!
8. Are you committed to constantly improving your craft? Do you always seek ways to develop your skills and learn new ones? I am committed. I'm constantly taking classes in NYC or reading articles online or talking with others in my industry about the shifts in trends, etc. It's the only way to stay in the business and get work.
9. Do you enjoy a myriad of interests and activities that not only make you a unique and well-rounded person, but also clear your mind and refresh your spirits for acting? Let's see...I love reading, watching movies, sewing, writing music, running, drawing, watching documentaries, traveling, and shoe shopping...that clears my mind...keeps me sane...and the shoes make me tall!
10. Will your loved ones encourage you when times are rough and cheer for you when they’re good? Will they understand when your schedule renders you unavailable, or when it’s difficult to make ends meet? I have the most amazing support system. I think it's so important. When you don't have a strong support system, it's difficult to stay confident. When you can feel the love it's easier to continue pounding the pavement and making great strides toward your ultimate goal.
11. Are you organized? Can you be counted on to keep track of paperwork, arrive on time, return calls promptly and follow through on commitments? In my home...NO. In my businesses...YES. Go figure!
12. Are you willing to invest in your career, even if funds are tight? Yes. Even when there is nothing but pasta and peanut butter in the house. It's a sacrifice but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do!
The more YES answers, the more you may be suited to the pressures of professional acting. Ten to twelve is a high score.
If you answered YES to eight or nine questions, better work on your NOs, before making any drastic decisions like dropping out of law school to enroll in an acting program.
If you answered YES to seven or less, you may want to adopt a more informal approach and regard acting as your creative outlet--not your vocation. You’ll be happier in the long run.
In any case, don't quit your day job! You’ll need the cash flow not only to pay your bills, but also to finance your acting endeavors.
A version of this quiz appears in Lana’s Tools for Actors weekly newsletter.
Casting Director Lana Veenker began her career in London and, upon returning to her Northwest roots, founded one of the top location casting companies in the country.
She currently casts for TNT’s “Leverage,” with 64 episodes under her belt, and NBC’s “Grimm,” now in its second season. Gus Van Sant, Robert Benton, Guillermo Arriaga, Catherine Hardwicke, and Tim Robbins figure among past film clients. Commercial accounts include Nike, Apple, and Nintendo, and international campaigns from Shanghai and Santiago.
Lana is a member of the Casting Society of America and the International Casting Directors Network. She frequently lectures across the U.S. and abroad, most recently at The Actors Platform in London, IfiF Productions in Vienna, The Acting Studio in Berlin, Studio Bleu in Paris, and Prague Film School.
She has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, MSNBC.com, MTV.com, AccessHollywood.com, and Wired, among others. Follow her on Twitter @lanaveenker.