“Nice to meet you, Brendan – so what do you do?”
This is a difficult question to answer. Most artists dread the question.
Do I respond by revealing my creative pursuits? “I’m an Actor!!!”
OR do I respond by revealing my ACTUAL work? You know, the stuff I do that actually pays me.
I struggled with this question when I first stopped practicing law and embarked on my creative endeavors. I’d ask myself, “how can I say I’m an actor when I haven’t been in anything??”
If I told people I was an Actor, they’d surely respond, “No way! So cool! Have I seen you in anything?” After which I’d clear my throat, laugh, and respond, “doubt it.” Then proceed to change the subject with a classic, “how about all those scooters downtown, crazy right?” Not the most invigorating conversation, I know.
But over the past six months I’ve come to a few realizations…
THE FIRST – never let other people’s opinions affect your decision making. This comes straight from Gary Vaynerchuck, the legend himself. Don’t say or not say something because you’re worried about what that person will think of you. Behaving that way is just silly. What other people think of you is none of your damn business. You do you.
THE SECOND – you don’t have to be profiting off your art in order to identify as an artist. For most artists, money isn’t the primary motive. And if it is, I doubt they’ll last long. Most artists are pursuing their art because they love it. And shouldn’t people identify with what they love? That’s rhetorical – of course they should.
THE THIRD – the more people who know what you do, the better off you’ll be. This is an old networking trick. Connections are EVERYTHING in this business. I truly believe that. So why would you ever not tell somebody you’re an actor, or a writer, or an artist? You have no idea what connections that person has. They may refer you to a filmmaker who is need of an actor for an upcoming short film. Or they may have a friend who is in need of an additional writer for a sketch comedy group. You never know what could happen.
You are doing yourself a disservice if you withhold information about your creative pursuits when you meet new contacts. Tell the world what you do. Don’t be timid. The more who know – the BETTER!
To sum all of the above up, it doesn’t fucking matter what people think. JUST BE HONEST!! Tell the truth.
If you’re still sitting there thinking, “can I really call myself an actor if I don’t actually make a living acting?” Slap yourself. Good. Then slap yourself again. OF COURSE, YOU CAN. Ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Speak that shit into existence.
I currently make my living as a tour guide and retail sales associate but here’s how I respond to the infamous question, “So what do you do.”
“I’m an Actor and Writer pursing the dream here in Nashville, TN.”