So you’ve got yourself an artist?
Congratulations, your life will never be boring. Let’s unmask some immediate concerns; the inherent challenge to make a showbiz career work, what career specifically (actor or director!?), and how you can help.
Life in ‘Showbiz” is just that, a life. Similar to every other career it has ups and downs. Unlike popular presumption, it can be an office based job and in many cases also very consistent.
The world your young enter is nothing like the one you entered; get a job – work your way up at the company – or around the industry – eventually retire with a hearty savings account, and trustworthy pension. This ideology is an echo from a time they’ll never know outside of your imposing it on them. Relieving yourself of this value system is the most important thing you can do, because the greatest difference between showbiz careers and most others is the starting point.
Where it all begins.
Doctors, engineers, lawyers or business people invest in their career by attending a masters program. The artist however; spends that same money on developing their work, and getting it seen.
There has never been a better time for this, nor a more affordable one, particularly in monetary and time currencies. Of which both must be considered.
There is such a thing as “opportunity cost”, and at it’s most fundamental it simply refers to the amount of time spent to earn an opportunity to generate income, versus the money made with that time spent elsewhere. It is therefore your function as a parent to help you child compare the time and money for further schooling or certificate programs in a more traditional career, to the input in the career of your artist spawn. This is a large theoretical math problem which will aid in the communication between you two, over the years. It’s essential and will spare you many-a headache. You will also have a good idea of where the line between a net positive and net negative opportunity cost lies.
Those who went before knew it too.
Comedian, and star, Dave Chapelle brilliantly summed this up in reference to a conversation with his father; a public school teacher. “If I can make a teachers salary doing comedy, that’s cool with me”, on Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton. A highly recommended two hour interview.
What he effectively did was name his price. You can help your child do the same thing. Therein lies the key to making the career work. What your price is and how it’s attained in a somewhat parallel career. Teachers spend countless hours mentoring students for what equates to little or no money. Arts is quite similar, especially in the first 5 – 10 years. How much are you willing to put in before you’re loosing too much, and what do you need to make to feel right about it. This is the exact same approach one ought to make in any other profession.
Which path to take.
Perhaps it’s too early to consider career aspirations, and they’ve simply been bitten by the showbiz bug. It’s time to help sort out which career within a wide array of options, might suit them best, and continue to inspire them. The two most frequently sought after are “Actor” and “Director”. Either they want to tell the story, which is a director, or they want to be the story, which is an actor.
Anyone can be either one. We are no longer in the days of exclusively gorgeous movie stars, and family lineage being the only way to become the director. Before examining the two a bit, it should be made clear that for every film, or television episode, there are between 4-10 actors, but only one director. This industry is not based on talent alone, so please always regard the odds before trying to decide.