• Chris Banks

Becoming an actor as an adult

Updated: Nov 17

What you had was a fire as a kid, you loved performing, you loved to act-but you went to school because you had a lot of work to do. Both inside and outside You did the work, you matured and you are now ready to learn how to actually be an actor. But you find yourself in your mid 20s, what do you do?

Well first, if you don’t have many acting opportunities around you-you move to somewhere where you do. Do as much work as you possibly humanly physically emotionally intellectually creatively can. Because only then will you have even a baseline of understanding about how to act. Now you must learn. More. And more. For me it was improv, small skits/one day plays on a stage and then going to the streets to do short or student films or indie films or internals or spokesman job teleprompter jobs hosting jobs, literally any kind of acting job. Not stand over there and look pretty jobs, acting. One hat on then throw it off and put another one on. That’s acting I learned a lot. I got to release myself. Got to live in my ego. Connect with material and people. Its so much fun. The people I was always working with were great and afterward the next morning I’d go act in something else. All small productions, mostly. Pilots, indie films, student films, internals, testimonials, shorts. You name it. Because that’s what is available to you. Do as much as you possibly can. Because you learn. For me it was everything that I needed to do. For you, you may find another way that works for you. Every actor is unique just like every person is and every actor is different. Today the acting world is so much different, because the rules of it have been entirely rewritten now that sag and aftra merged And film has become so insulated. Union loosened some rules, allowed their ranks to swell far past their ability to make sure work was there. But the union is not in existence to provide an actor with work. The union exists to protect us The union exists to make sure you get paid, fed. The union exists to ensure that dedicated craftspeople only work with professional actors. That’s all the union is there to do. It’s protection. It’s family. And those who are members of it have paid their dues for a reason. The old world way an actor would break out would be to stay far away from background, but in this new world-background is a necessary evil for most young, and old actors alike.

Yesterday It used to be that productions would never look to background talent, but that rule isn’t true anymore as productions will still hire you for a principle role, if you give them a reason to. This is why Im disappointed when I hear young actors project their uncertainty about union. The union isn’t the thing holding you back, it never is. Unless you joined without any experience at all. I do everything I can because I always will do everything I can-until I can’t physically work anymore. The day I can say no to something isn’t really what I’m working toward, because I doubt I will ever say no to anyone who wants to work with me. Unless the role is just not something I could do. But on the main, if a director wants to work with me-I want to work with them. It’s a privilege. That’s the effect of moving to New York City and getting a start at fulfilling your purpose. You grow, you learn. Your objectives change, priorities.

So right now everything in me is always focused on improving any element of my craft or of my person. I’m focused on proving myself worthy of not just principle roles but a principle acting career. A sustained one. That’s why I moved to NYC. I didn’t join when I could. I took the time, I got the experience I had to get. I learned all of its capacities. It takes time. And lots of sacrifice. Developing yourself as an actor Is not easy. I still am. But if you are an actor, everything will be worth it.

Every one of our choices matter, in life, not only to us but to those that surround us, rely on us, look to us, lean on us. Our choices matter. Our words matter. What we do with our lives matters, a lot. I could never live with myself if I didn’t just act. I’d always know I didn’t live up to my potential. But choosing to be an actor made me a whole person. I’m happier now.

The reality of tv/film business now is not what those in 70s/80s/90s and early part of century dealt with. Streaming has upended everything. The union merging created a whole lot more new noise we as actors had to navigate around, and in some cases through. I couldn’t call myself an actor without going out there and acting. Doing what I’ve been doing. I feel better now. I always had bad angels in my shoulder yelling at me before I moved to NYC. They’re all gone now. I’m actually happy. I’m content. I couldn’t be any happier when I’m on set. Creating with other creatives. That one time I got a trailer. I was never happier. Because I was free. I could just create. I could just be. When I’m in front of the lens is where I feel the most at home. It’s where I am the calmest. I love being in front of the lens. And I’m very happy I chose to be. Even as an adult. You could too. If you had that same fire. It’s never too late.

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