I'm reading this great book called In the Company of Actors, by Carole Zucker. It's the stories of a whole bunch of great British actors, told in first person, compiled from interviews. Yesterday I was reading Eileen Atkins and this struck me:
I had a terrible time. Nobody got an agent. They used to say 'If you're a woman, give yourself eight years, and if after eight years you are not working steadily, give it up. Men, give yourselves five years...' Well, I went nine years before I was working steadily.
Nine years! Later, she's talking about her first role as an extra at Stratford:
And I'd only been there 6 weeks, and the girl who was playing Audrey in As You Like It ... was taken to hospital for 6 weeks. Then her understudy was taken to hospital in the night with some kind of chest thing, she couldn't breathe. And I thought 'She's the understudy, who is going to play Audrey tomorrow night? What if she's not better?' So I stayed up all night and learned Audrey, and made sure I was in the theatre the next day, and they were all saying 'Oh my god, is there anyone who knows Audrey?' and I said "Yes, I know it, I've played it'. I lied, and I went on as Audrey, and from then on they accepted me at Stratford. But you see, I was cunning.
Nine years of trying. And even then it was a stroke of luck and some quick thinking that got her a "break". I find that so encouraging. I know I was just reminding myself a couple of weeks ago that I have all the time in the world; that I'm still young and I have the rest of my life for a career... but I so often forget that. I want it all now! (Veruca Salt anyone? Daddy. I want a squirrel and I want it now!) Nine years sounds like such a long time. But in nine years I'll still only be 34. Hopefully I'll still be fit and healthy and reasonably good looking.
Anyway I'm rambling and nearly forgetting what my point was going to be. It is, I guess, thatI need to keep reminding myself that this here career that I've chosen isn't going to drop into my lap next week, it's going to take hard work and some sacrifice, years and years of it.
Bring it on. ;-)