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  • Laurel Hatfield

To all the actors who feel unappreciated and unrecognized...

I see you.


I appreciate you.


I recognize your hard work.


It is the end of the year. We all know what that means: nominations for awards and public recognition for outstanding performances.


Simply being an actor is hard enough. (We've all seen the "Actor's Iceberg" meme, the one that shows what people DO see on top -- social media, awards, money, fame, etc. -- and what people DON'T see on the bottom -- training, expenses, sacrifice, patience, rejection, rejection, rejection...)


It is already part of our job to constantly prove ourselves. In other professions, you show a potential employer once, maybe twice if there's a second interview, that you are worthy of receiving your job. Then the job is yours. And as long as you continue to do your job satisfactorily, you remain employed.


This is not the way for actors. Every job inevitably ends. Then you have to use your talents to impress yet another group of people in order to get your next job. And sometimes, whether or not you get another job has nothing to do with your talent. Maybe you aren't cast due to your look, your type, a co-star's look or type, a promise to another actor, a scheduling conflict, a name on a resume, a previous casting choice that has nothing to do with you ... The reasons why we don't get jobs are endless and often eternally unknown.


While yes, we actors support each other and applaud the work of our friends and colleagues, we are also aware of the fact that every time we audition for a role, we are in competition with each other. Someone will get the role, and others will not. We are constantly competing. And most actors, myself included, love supporting other artists. We get satisfaction out of seeing our friends succeed. For us, competitiveness is one of the most difficult parts of the job.


We don't love being in competition with each other. We wish there were roles for everyone. But there simply aren't. So we are pitted against each other. And 9 times out of 10 (or, more realistically, 19 times out of 20), we don't get the job. But we are happy for whoever did. This is not an easy feeling to become accustomed to: being disappointed and sad that we didn't get something, but happy for whoever did get it. It's an unnamed emotion in the Actor's Toolbox, but we all feel it constantly.


So, here we are in December. The end of the year. After a year of auditions, competition, rejection, success, hard work, and putting yourself and your emotions on stage for all to see, this is when we have the added difficulty of finding out whether or not other people deem your work worth remembering.


Woof.


Really?


I already went through an entire year of emotional roller coasters, and now you tell me I have to enter my holiday season knowing if critics think my work was outstanding?


We compete enough ... wouldn't you agree? We already find out audition after audition whether our work is good enough to land a job. Casting directors tell us "no" on a daily basis. The last thing we need is to hear that what little work we did book is or isn't memorable.


All of this being said, I would like to mention that while in the past year I have performed in eight shows -- in seven of which I had principal roles -- I was not nominated for any end-of-the-year awards, I was not given any additional praise, and I have not once been mentioned in any "Best Of" articles.


I could wallow in sadness or feel unappreciated. I could begrudge the actors who did receive accolades and additional mentions. But I choose not to. I choose to be proud of my work. I choose to be thankful that I was given jobs I did get. I choose to continue working hard and finding the next job. I choose to let the core of what I do be the ART. Not the praise, not the competition, not the winning, not the reviews, not the glory; the art.


Actors are artists. We exist to make people feel. To move people. To initiate change for the better. To entertain. To help audience members forget about the pressures of the real world. To make the world smile. Accolades and good reviews are nice, but those are not what acting is about.


So ...


Actors who performed in shows and didn't get awards or mentions in reviews, I see you.


Actors who performed in shows that weren't seen by reviewers at all, I see you.


Actors who perform at theme parks or tourist attractions and don't have time to be in other shows, I see you.


Actors who have non-performing jobs out of financial necessity but wish you could find an artistic outlet, I see you.


Actors who have so much talent and heart to give, but haven't found a show that is right for you yet, I see you.


All actors, who put yourselves on the line emotionally every day, I see you.


I appreciate you.


I recognize you.


Reviews and awards aren't everything. Keep doing what you're doing for the art and for the love. Because then you're doing it for the right reasons. And that is better than any review a critic could give you.


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