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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Personal Standards

This is a topic that isn't addressed all that often within acting circles.  It makes a lot of us uncomfortable.  We find ourselves feeling either judged, with a finger pointed at us, or on the jury, pointing our fingers at someone else.  We compare ourselves to others, checking to see what our favorite actors do when they find themselves in a similar circumstance.  Or, if that doesn't fit with the we're looking for, we go down the list until we find someone (anyone) that agrees with us.

What I'm talking about is deciding what we will and won't do as actors.

One thing I won't be doing in this blog is talking that much about my own standards.  Not because I don't want to talk about them.  I'd love to.  But because, for the purposes of this post, they're irrelevant.

We're talking about personal standards.  Not professional standards (that's a different discussion for another time).  Not industry standards.  Not Standard American. 

We're talking about individual guidelines we determine for ourselves that shape the kind of people we want to be.

Most creative people, actors especially, tend to rebel any time someone talks about limits or boundaries.  And they're right, in a sense.  We don't want to limit the infinite possibilities and potential we all possess, but what exactly does that really mean?  Iambic pentameter could be seen as a limit or a boundary to a writer, but I wouldn't say it limited Shakespeare. 

Talking about establishing and maintaining personal standards flies right in the face of what many say about the craft.  The argument is that we're just acting; therefore, anything we do as we portray a part is fair game.  No exceptions.

And that may work for some people.  There's nothing inherently wrong in that reasoning.  It just doesn't work for me.  And I figure, if it doesn't work for me, it may not work for some of you out there.  The fact that the subject comes up all the time makes me think that must be true.

One boundary that seems to come up all the time is the subject of nudity and/or sex scenes.  But there are others.  Many, many others.  Whether or not to smoke for a part.  Whether or not to eat meat.  Whether or not to act in a film or play whose message goes against our personal beliefs.  Whether or not to swear.  Whether or not to wear the color purple, which CLEARLY doesn't work with our skin.

Okay, that last one may be just a touch silly.  But then again, maybe not.  What seems ridiculous or ludicrous to someone else may be something that you hold near and dear.  Even sacred.

My point here is, each of us get to make our own choices about what kind of people...and actors...we want to be.  Period.  No one else can tell us what to do or believe.  What I decide to do or not to do may not make any sense to you.  That's okay.  It doesn't have to.

Will we miss out on jobs if we decide not to do certain things?  Sure.  It's possible.  Will we really be missing out, though?

The universe is bountiful and wants to give us all that we're willing to receive.  One job here or there doesn't really compare with that, does it? :)

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