-Viola Davis

“If you have a choice between auditioning for a great role over a bad role, you are privileged. That means not only do you have a top agent who can get you in, you are at a level that you would be considered for it. Our profession at any given time has a 95 percent unemployment rate.

Only 1 percent of actors make $50,000 a year or more and only 0.04 percent of actors are famous, and we won’t get into defining famous. The 0.04 percent are the stories you read about in the media. “Being picky,” “dropping agents,” making far less than male counterparts. Never having any regrets in terms of roles they’ve taken. Yada, yada, yada.

He who has choices has resources. And the life needs of some twenty-something actor are not the life needs of everyone. Health insurance, mortgage, children are not the top priority of most twenty-somethings. Yet the people who are aspiring to be actors and have no knowledge as to a way in listen to the testimonies of the privileged. The ones who were extremely talented, but also extraordinarily lucky. Luck is an elusive monster who chooses when to come out of its cave to strike and who will be its recipient. It’s a business of deprivation.

For every one actor who makes it to fame there are fifty thousand more who did exactly the same things, yet didn’t make it. Most of the actors I went with to Juilliard, Rhode Island College, Circle in the Square Theatre, the Arts Recognition Talent Search competition are not in the business anymore. I think I can name six, and many, you wouldn’t even know. It doesn’t speak to their talent, it speaks to the nature of the business.

Trust me when I say most were beautiful and talented, and some had incredible agents. It’s an eenie, meenie, miny, mo game of luck, relationships, chance, how long you’ve been out there, and sometimes talent.

You get auditions based on the level you are at. It’s hard to see when your journey to the top had more ease, but in reality, there is no ease. You do what the lucky person did, you have a 99 percent chance of it not ever happening for you. Only about 4 percent of actors in the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union make enough for Plan 1 health insurance and that’s $20,000 a year. That is our reality.”

~ Culled from her book “Finding Me: A Memoir”

By osibanews

Eliel Otote A is an Actor and Filmmaker, with a bias for journalism. He was a freelance feature writer with the Nigerian Observer in the 80's in Benin City, he also presented programmes on both radio and television. Eliel is the Editor and Publisher of OSIBAnews Network Magazine, of which this blog is an affiliate.

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