When Starry-Eyed Dreams Confront Harsh Realities

Editor’s Note: What I love about this guest blog post is that you can replace “acting” with any creative endeavor. We as artists all have had (or still have) dreams of being great at our craft. But then reality sets in. You acquire a humility and appreciation for the craft you might not have had starting out. This article may be about acting, but it applies to you more than you may know, whether or not you act. ~ Ron


I love acting.

Those words above do not mean that I am good at it in any way. I just love it. I love the idea that you can become someone else, if only for a little while, through acting. I am fascinated by the way that humans are able to take on someone else’s mannerisms, dreams, hopes, failures, past. All of sudden, you have talents and skills that your character has. This may all be in your imagination, but in the words of Einstein, ” Imagination encircles the world.”

I have so much respect for people who are able to morph into a character, a person that may not even exist. It blows my mind! In the movies, these actors get to experience a portion of a life that they would never have been able to “live” otherwise. In their search for realizing or becoming their character, they also find out more about themselves.

All this sounds gloriously romantic, doesn’t it? I’ll admit that I’m probably talking like a starry-eyed theater girl, but theater kids are notorious for not caring about what people think, right?

Despite my love for acting, I don’t do much of it and when I do, I often fear that everything I’m feeling is not actually showing up on my face in a readable emotion. Everyone knows that guy, the one who thinks he’s this amazing actor, but really he can’t act worth two cents. But they’re so passionate! They love acting! And they somehow believe that is enough. It’s not. I know this. And I really don’t want to be that person who receives the silent pity reserved for those who are deceived about their own abilities.

When I was very little, maybe six years old, I wanted to be a great actress and win an oscar and walk on the red carpet. I didn’t understand much about acting, but I saw that the people who did it looked very dignified and important and they got to do lots of cool things in their movies. Where do I sign?

As I got older, I became more interested in the part of acting that I mentioned earlier, the ability to experience things that are only available to you because you’re playing the character who is experiencing them. You get to live many lives as an actor, it seemed.

From the acting that I have done, I’ve found that it’s a harder job than I had imagined. The vulnerability required to completely break down sobbing in front of all the crew and cast is massive. I know it’s acting, but it’s still you who’s acting. Those are still your tears.

To inhabit the spirit of an imagined person is hard. It’s humbling. It’s no longer about you. It’s about them. This is why my respect for actors is so great. They allow us to see into an aspect of human life that would be hidden from us otherwise. The people who are truly grieving or living their great and strange lives would never allow an audience in the room.

Now that I’m older, I don’t know if I can do that. Acting seems so much more than a frivolous profession; to me, it’s a great responsibility. To accurately represent the human life experience and not make a mockery of it – that is the job of an actor.

Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps I am reading too much into it. After all, I am not an actor. How would I know what the job of an actor is?

All I can say, is that I am grateful. Perhaps one day, I will be one of those people who act, who represent the human life experience that we enjoy watching in film so much. For now, however, I’d say that I am content to sit in awe of those who are able to show me the life of someone else through their own tears and expressions and turn of the head.

Imahni Dawson is a writer and musician, with a passion for helping others realize their own greatness. She loves learning and to create things whether that be music or prose, poetry, or art.

2 thoughts on “When Starry-Eyed Dreams Confront Harsh Realities

  1. Loved this. I also admire actors, and remember how hard it was when I tried to do it in high school. I could never get past myself enough to be convincing as someone else. That being said, in every acting performance an actor leaves their imprint on the character they portray. Sometimes the imprint becomes institutionalized, such as Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. or Judy Garland as Dorothy – it’s sometimes hard to separate the character from the actor who portrayed it.

    I think great actors are people who can quickly master a small but definitive slice of each character they play. In the end it is just imitation/pretend/fantasy. However, the truth in their portrayal is the key, and if they can find the core of that character and incorporate it into themselves and their portrayal, they will have succeeded.

    1. Great thoughts! I especially loved your point on how in the end, it is mere pretend, but if they can master that “small but definitive slice of each character they play” they will have succeeded.

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