Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mr. Ed Hooks

I took Ed Hooks commercial workshop a couple years back in Chicago, and it was a great experience. Mr. Hooks is an actor, teacher, writer, animation expert, etc., etc. I still get his monthly e-mail newsletter, and he always has inspiring things to say. This month, he had a great message about "The Dream." An excerpt is below - you can read the whole thing and/or sign up to get his monthly musings at



There is no "right" time to dream, and there is no right time to be an artist. You would be surprised by the number of E-Mails I receive from people who confess to having had long time dreams about acting, but reality and the demands of making a living have caused them to follow a different path. They can't get rid of their dreams, though, and they often want to know if it is "too late".

It is never too late. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Van Gogh was forty before he painted his first picture.. Henry Miller wrote Tropic of Cancer when he was forty-four. One of my favorites is Norman Maclean, who wrote the novella A River Runs Through It when he was seventy-six. The hit television show The Sopranos was brimming with late blooming actors... No, it is never too late...

How much satisfaction and magic do you imagine acting will provide in your life? How important is it that you get paid to act? Are you thinking of making a living from acting? How much money is that? Could you scratch the itch by performing in non-or-low-paying community theater productions while making your living in a day job? If you intend to be paid to act, then it is a good idea to put on your business-person's hat for a minute and consider a few realities along with your dream.

The frustrating truth is that, especially in the United States, very few people make a living from their art, whether that be acting, music, dance or painting. Eighty-five percent of the members of Screen Actors Guild earn less than $5,000 per year from their craft. In acting, a middle-income group is practically non-existent. There are thousands of actors who are making zilch or close to zilch, and then there are Will Smith, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts - who earn in the tens of millions of dollars per movie...

My point is that, if you want to make a living from acting, you really ought to have a realistic game plan regardless of your age... Do you have a feeling deep inside that you have a life-perspective that you want to share with others? If so, I think you have what might be called an "artistic impulse". In that case, it is mainly a matter of pursuing the art form that speaks to you most personally. Art of all kinds is about communicating feelings.

In one sense, deciding to become an artist is like finding religion. You wake up one morning and realize that you simply must do this. Even though becoming an artist may not make good logical sense, you will never feel satisfied until you at least try.

There is one more very important benefit to becoming an artist that I want to mention. You will find others like yourself. All of us have a need to communicate. That is, after all, why I wrote these craft notes, and it is why I send you an encouraging cyber-hug.

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