The Integrity of the Actor

The Integrity of the Actor
Monday musings...and yes, even on these hot August days, I STILL drink coffee!!

With all the outings of last week, it has brought much to the surface of our business.  Acting/Singing and THE BUSINESS of Acting/Singing.

In my world, integrity is a huge thing.  It was something instilled in my being from a very early age and is one of my father's legacies to me.  

What is this personal and professional integrity?  Simply put, it is how we live our lives and how we do business.  How we treat others, how we work with others, how we treat ourselves in the interaction with others;  What we value;  What we believe;  What we DO.

Living is DOING.  Acting is DOING.  What are you willing to DO for your craft? What are absolutely NOT going to do for sake of  business?

As we spend time on this earth, and hopefully learn a few things along the way, our personal and professional credos begin to emerge.  Our sense of personal and professional integrity adheres to the the code we live and work by.  A sense of morality and just-ness.

Only YOU the actor/singer can develop that code.  It has to be personal.  It has to be personal in order to truly have value.

What are you willing to DO for your craft? How do you LIVE your craft?  

Sadly I see both ends of the spectrum:

  I see the actor who creates standards for him/herself.  Standards of personal and work ethic that is lived.  They expect professionalism from themselves and others; they are prepared within an inch of their lives for each and every audition and rehearsal;  they do not dial in performances but are constantly creating and renewing a character;  they live with passion and commitment.  They CHALLENGE themselves and they challenge the thoughts and ideas of those around them.  THESE are the artists in the truest sense of the word.  These artists HAVE true integrity - a value and a code that allows them to rise above the murk that often clutters the BUSINESS of acting.

On the other end, I see actors who go with the flow.  Who are willing to suck up to anybody or anything in order for a what they think will be a shot at the brass ring.  They have no backbone. They are simply "yes" actors.  Lackies.  Willing to sacrifice any sense of value/morality to feed the whim of somebody or something that looks powerful.  And I say "looks" powerful because that's precisely it. Power is deceitful and full of illusion.  Sadly, I have seen many over the years make a decision to sacrifice their integrity in order to get a job/have a chance.  I very rarely see that help in the long run.  It might get one job, and then, nothing.  And forever you will be remembered as the actor who did "whatever/whomever" to get the job.  Nothing is ever mentioned of your craft, your talent or anything else of value.

Often, artists say they are desperate. Desperation is a state of mind.  It is a nagging, relentless and disgusting feeling that has no place in our craft or our lives.  If it is allowed to reside, it takes over and there is no room for craft or integrity.  It pollutes everything you do, and everything you try to do.

If you are an artist there is no room for desperation or desperate acts.  You are creative; you are worth it; you will find your place or a place will be made for you.  You will inhabit that place!  Artistry and living in that creative passion will always find a place.  

The integrity of the actor does not settle.  It constantly seeks.  It constantly asks questions, and tasks itself and others to find answers and energy.  The integrity of the actor does not confuse itself with a job.  Jobs come and jobs go.  The integrity is a constant.  The integrity of the actor does not hovel or sacrifice itself at the whim of something or someone else who shows no respect for it.  The integrity of the actor has value and has purpose.  It has light and often shines so brightly it shows that the emperor has no clothes on in this business!

The integrity of the actor does not lie.  It tells truth, it shows truth, it lives truth.  It strives for truth and purpose.  the integrity of the actor wants to make this a better place then how he/she found it.  The integrity of the actor is not a diplomat.  If someone says it's green, and it's red, the integrity of the actor will simply say "perhaps you see green, but I see red and this is why." The integrity of the actor asks why and gives reasons for why.

The integrity of the actor is open, willing to try, willing to learn, exchange ideas, explore, ask questions, discover - of self, and others, and process.

The integrity of the actor will not settle.  Will not accept without reason.  Will not lie down and "behave" because someone or something is threatened by it.  The integrity of the actor must be willing to stand up and be what it is - a code and an artistic ethic that has life breathed into it daily.  

If you are willing to stand for something - what will that be? 

As actors/singers/dancers/performers, as artists, WE define our times.  It is our integrity that changes lives and makes the world a better place.  It is up to us to STAND and DISCOVER and COMMIT to ourselves and our craft and take nothing less than what we demand from ourselves.

Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

If you liked this post, please share it or comment with your thoughts below!