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Actor Speak 101

WHAT NOT TO SAY TO AN ACTOR:

 

  1. Have I seen you in anything?”

OBVIOUSLY NOT IF YOU’RE ASKING THIS QUESTION! The only excuse for this phraseology is if the speaker is a genuine Alzheimer’s or dementia patient and can’t remember things they HAVE SEEN. The subtext to this question being, “How dare you call yourself an actress if you’re not famous?

 

  1. “Do you get paid for the acting work you do?”

Asking anybody’s salary except an actor’s is considered tres gauche. Can you imagine someone at a party asking a banker, “So, um, what kind of money do you make working at that bank?”

 

  1. Oh! You’re an actor! My personal trainer does Community Theater.”

 

The subtext is the hidden insult of grouping me with someone who does Community Theater when I am on IMDB, and am a member of all the unions and have worked hard to get here. Thank you!

 

  1. “How do you handle the rejection?”

Usually said by someone who wants to appear as if they know all about what it’s like to be an actor. YOU DON’T, so shut your trap.

 

  1. “Oh, that’s so competitive.” (See #3)

 

  1. “I wanted to do that, but I felt that actors are all dumb.”

 

Actually said to me at my husband’s boss’s house at brunch so I couldn’t tell the blond who hated me at first sight to fuck off. She works in advertising-obviously not a lack of stupid people there. Subtext: jealous and bitter because she gave up.

 

  1. “Are you working on anything now?”

Subtext: There is an inherent challenge in this question because everyone assumes all actors are unemployed. Believe me, if an actor is working on a project they’re going to tell you about it. A friend of mine was once sitting Shiva for his father and while there his actress/cousin passed out flyers for her latest show.

 

  1. “What theaters have you worked in?”

Once again a question that would be gauche in the business sector. Akin to asking to see someone’s resume in a social situation. Subtext: The same as #1 and #2. (“You’re a banker? What banks have you worked for?”)

 

  1. “You should meet my nephew he just did “Guys and Dolls” at his high school.”

Oh yes, I’m sure we’d have tons in common. Subtext: Acting an OK activity for a high school sophomore, but preposterous for an adult.

 

WHAT IS LEFT TO SAY:

Ummm …. I have to think about that. Can I get back to you? There must be something appropriate to say to an actor? Ah……..

How about:

“Great Hors d’oeurves. Huh?”

Or:

“I found a place to buy great clothes for no money.” BARGAIN SHOPPING! A topic of great interest among artistic people. A painter friend and I actually feel that Trader Joes moving into our neighborhood has been a life changing experience. And we have figured out how to wear designer clothes by shopping at church jumble sales in upscale neighborhoods and trolling EBay.

 

Your favorite actor and why. Also good.

Or if you know anything about: differing acting methods. Most actors love discussing their training. English versus American. Stanislavski versus Meisner. Marlon Brando versus Lawrence Olivier. Early Robert De Niro versus his present self.

 

“Do you work in film or theater?” is a great question and can open up a discussion of the merits of either discipline.

 

And remember, ACTORS ARE PEOPLE TOO. They not only express feelings THEY ACTUALLY HAVE THEM.

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3 Responses to “Actor Speak 101”


  1. 1 Cindy March 8, 2016 at 12:05 am

    Eh. I think some of these folks are just trying to make conversation and are probably just ignorant.

    Kind of like asking “where are you from”

  2. 2 senior Pathwords Partner January 6, 2009 at 6:09 am

    Why don’t you tell people you are not an actor, but you play one on TV?

  3. 3 Cal January 5, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    How about,…

    Do you ever plan on selling out?

    or

    Your an actor, well, what do you do for money?


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