Shit…Maybe I Don’t Want to Pursue Acting Professionally Anymore – My Crazy Crossroad

Kyrus Keenan Westcott and the cast of BTOP's CATS.Living the life of an actor isn’t easy. Not only is it a physical test every day, but it is definitely a mental test as well. For those of you out there who are actors as well, you may be able to identify with the crossroad that I am currently standing in…

You see, here’s the deal … I love acting with all my heart. I have been in love with it ever since January of 2001 when I auditioned (and eventually got cast in) Big – The Musical at Reynolds Middle School in Hamilton, New Jersey. Since then, Broadway and Hollywood was my goal in life. Not necessarily for the fame (though that’d be nice), but because I knew that Broadway and Hollywood were the two places that would allow me to raise a family AND entertain millions of people across the globe.

Flash forward to 2014. I am 26, single, and struggling with where I am in my career. Sure, I have a full-time job that allows for me to perform (literally) every friggin day, but this job does not pay NEARLY enough to allow me to comfortably date, get back on track with my independence, AND have fun with my friends and family.

You see, I want to be able to do all three of those things … comfortably. And unfortunately, being so focused on becoming a professional actor does not allow for such actions to take place.

Clarity, Courage, Confidence, and Competence

You need all four of those C’s in order to succeed in the acting business. I, unfortunately, only possess of three of them. I have the Courage that is needed Kyrus Keenan Westcott and the box office ladies of George Street succeed, I definitely have the Confidence, and despite what some people may suggest when I’m not around, I’d like to think that I have the Competence needed (that was a joke btw … you know … haha and stuff). But I am definitely missing the Clarity aspect of things. In this entertainment business, you can’t go 3 for 4. You HAVE to have all four C’s … and I am definitely missing the clarity. You see, I hate not knowing what comes next. Once my George Street Playhouse gig is up on May 2 … then what? What’s after that? I am going to bust my ass and audition and audition and audition for another 9 month contract somewhere else? Sure. Sounds fun in the moment, but where will that get me in the future?

I can’t fall in love with the schedule I have right now. I can’t raise a family with the money I make right now. And I HATEEEEEE that. I hate it so much. I want a family. I want a daughter (my little princess) that I can be overprotective of … I want a son that I can play basketball with … I don’t want to be an old dad (I want to be able to hold my grandchildren BEFORE I get put into a nursing home!) … I want to continue the Westcott blood line … I want my mom and dad to hold my son and/or daughter in their hands … I want that so bad. I want that more than I want to act professionally.

I Don’t Want to Be a Desperate Actor

It’s at a point now that I feel as though the amount of work that I am doing everyday is starting to outweigh the potential rewards. Look, I just don’t want to be a desperate actor anymore, you know? Every day I listen to stories and I am constantly reminded of how difficult an actor’s life is. Every day I am reminded that only 1% of the Actor’s Equity are actually WORKING actors. Every day I am reminded that actors make NO MONEY (even the ones currently on Broadway). Those things, along with many other factors lead to a world filled with “desperate actors”.

These “desperate actors” skate by every month serving tables and auditioning every single day and going some days without eating because they can’t afford it (I’ve done it). I think about all of the actors I personally know that are trying their hardest to “make it” in the industry … they are desperate and starving and craving for that ONE chance … a chance 99% of them will NEVER get… and a majority of the time, it’s not even about their talent! It’s about looks. It’s crazy the amount of insanely-talented people I’ve seen struggle in this business.

Kyrus Keenan WestcottI don’t want that life. I don’t want to live a life of being desperate, not knowing what’s coming next or whether I am going to eat tomorrow or not having health insurance, ect. I don’t want that. I want a wife (well, a girlfriend would help for starters lol), I want kids, I want security. And if that means that I have to change careers… then so be it I guess…

And THAT is the crossroad that I’m now standing at…

Do I continue with my professional acting ambitions, not knowing what comes next? Or do I start to focus on my other strengths in communication and marketing and find something a lot more stable?

Don’t Get Me Wrong – I’m Not Going to Stop Performing…

A life without performing is simply unacceptable for me. So if I do decide to change my focus (and as of right now, that is looking like a strong possibility), I will still perform – I just will not be pursuing a professional acting career as hardcore as I am now. Once my contract with GSP is complete, I will get a full-time communications/marketing job (my two strengths outside of acting … I’ve even considered getting in the field of psychology), and gather my footing. I will continue to create my own opportunities with my production company, I will still do shows at Kelsey, The Ritz, BTOP, New Candlelight, ect. I will still direct shows locally and put together cool, fun events like The Kelsey Awards … I will still  do ALL of that … but I will do it A LOT more comfortably and more happily. I will no longer be a desperate actor.

My Eventual Return

The great thing about pursuing a professional acting career is that you can always come back. Shit, I may try all this out and say to myself, “Ew… what the **** was I thinking?” and then get back on the grind in 2015. Or I may find my way back into the game when I am older. When I have a wife and kids and more comfortable financially. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? All I can do is stay realistic with myself and find that clarity I have been looking for in 2013.

My Eyes Are Wide Open

In the end, I will go about addressing my life and potential career change with my eyes wide open. I will approach this with seriousness, rigor, and full commitment. It’s what my future wife deserves. It’s what my future children deserve. It’s what I deserve.


19 thoughts on “Shit…Maybe I Don’t Want to Pursue Acting Professionally Anymore – My Crazy Crossroad

  1. Nothing wrong with expanding what you do in life…adding a career to later take care of a family. There is no greater feeling then being a parent Keenan. Sometimes you have to take the detour to get where you need and want to be. You are a great performer even if you decide to put it on the back burner for a while I think you could go back full force and be just as good if not better

  2. A friend of mine from high school shared this. Hello from 9 years down the road from your current intersection. I made the same choice and am now a marketing and advertising planner for the entertainment world in Washington DC. I love what I do. I still work in “the industry”. It gives me the freedom financially to do what I want, live in a nice house, enjoy the security of a 401k and grants me the free time to pursue other interests like performing. Since I “left” performing full time, I’ve done leads in great shows including Rent, Once on this Island, A Chorus Line, Next to Normal, and many others.
    …and I’ve also met and proposed to my wonderful partner of four years!
    It’s not always easy… it has had its challenges. But then again so did the Gypsy life of a performer. I wish you all the best!

  3. Can’t tell you how much this post resonates with me. Next month I’ll be graduating with a degree in acting at a college in Philly. But am not sure I want to do only this with my life. I’d like something more stable that still could allow me to perform on the side if possible. Looking into other career paths is daunting, but I hope to end up where I am supposed to be. Thanks for the inspiring post!!

  4. I can totally empathize with you. I am also pursuing acting as well but am at a crossroads as well. Acting is my number one passion but lately the desire to do it has been fading…not that I want to quit entirely but I realized I needed to find some clarity as well. I have it worse bc I’m a female. I’m 30. I too, want to get married, have children, and work towards the future. I have a Registered Nursing degree that has been collecting dust on my shelf for two years. I decided to go back and just take care of some things. The great thing about acting is that it is a life-long endeavor. You can always go back!

  5. Good for you for knowing what you want in life! You might be surprised that, once you start performing for yourself, opportunities may begin to present themselves. Nobody really likes to hire an actor that comes across as desperate. You’ll find that your acting will become more natural and relaxed. Good things will come! 🙂

  6. I know this blog was written some time ago, so hopefully something to feel good about has happened since then, but I thought I’ll add my thoughts anyway.

    Someone once said, if you want to be an actor and have a plan B….take it. Because it is not a career for the faint hearted. You are a conjurer – you create worlds out of nothing. You are the instrument, you are the business and you are the client. Even if you hit the “big time” the worries don’t end, some just have different names. Box office, reviews, profile, employability (still!), money (no surprise!)…

    When I read the 4th “C” clarity, I actually thought you were referring to clarity about knowing EXACTLY what you want, not the ability/opportunity/luxury to know exactly what is going to come next.

    Anyone who has been seriously pursuing acting for a while eventually comes to appreciate that there is Acting and then there is the Acting/Entertainment Business. They are related but not the same by any stretch of the imagination. Acting can be done anywhere, anytime. It does not require a financial investment. There are literally millions of ways in which one can indulge their passion for the craft of acting without resorting to anything desperate or cringe-worthy. However, when most people say they are passionate about acting, they are actually talking about the acting business, working in the industry. A sales-based industry. Which requires a slightly different mindset than just being curious and wonderfully artistically creative.

    Take auditioning for example and imagine you are on the other side of the table. You are auditioning for one role and you have 50 resumés in front of you. Everyone has been invited because they look capable on paper. Of everyone who comes in, you see 20 people who could play the part well. How do you choose? It can’t be about how well the actor does their lines, because many of them have/will anyway.

    Lots of actors understandably get tired of the process partly because unfortunately, not enough thought was put into it; yes, the passion is there and probably always will be. But not enough consideration is made of the business and how they can manage to find balance within it. The belief is that it is a business of gaining skills and getting auditions. That it is a numbers game. Audition enough and in time, something will stick. Too many actors keep focusing on what they can get out of the profession, but spend little to no time thinking about what they can bring to it – what is my passion about? Is it about telling stories, inspiring or provoking thought? Is it about being a cool player in a cool industry? Or about the buzz of being seen doing something well in a very public way?

    Because each of those thoughts inspire a different type of actor and a different approach to the business. Acting is a craft. It takes time to hone and develop. Even if someone got a leading role in a movie, the money they make can range wildly. They are not even paid immediately – it takes time for the money to come through. By the time the movie is shot, it could take up to a year before it gets seen. An actor’s life can be one of waiting. For callbacks, for call times, for cues, for release dates. Acting gives life, but isn’t life. It can’t be. The hardest thing for us actors to face sometimes is that the lives we live are not big or fearless or inspiring enough to warrant the big or adventurous or fulfilling opportunities we crave. We often hedge our bets, go for comfortable, don’t push the envelope, or challenge ourselves to think outside the box.

    Recent research has shown that the people who succeed are not those with the best opportunities, or are the best looking or the cleverest. But those with GRIT. That was the only term the researchers thought described the quality best. Those who stick to their desires, who can follow through, because they have a big enough WHY. Their reasons for doing something goes beyond the pleasure they associate with getting what they want. Their very lives depend on it. Otherwise, if the mind feels there is an easier option, it will always go for that. Always. Unless it feels its survival, its identity, its future depends on it.

    Another wise person said “you don’t choose acting, acting chooses you”. That has definitely been my experience. I have been an actor for 13 years and gone for months without work, been underpaid, done jobs I didn’t really want to do, been desperate and so much more, but none of it has diminished my love for the craft/business. Oh yes, I’ve had those feeling sorry for myself moments., but they don’t last long. What they eventually reveal is that I have to ask better questions, change my strategy, challenge myself differently. Because that will never end. No matter how much money or prestige I end up getting.

  7. Hi Ky. So I know that you posted this awhile ago. I happened to stumble upon your page here tonight, and seriously, every single thing you said in this post is resonating with me so much. Thank you for taking the time to put this out there. Would love to know what’s happened with you since this post came out. I’m pretty gung ho on a career shift. And, like you said, still performing, of course. But with more happiness and comfort!

  8. I googled ‘what to do when you realise you dont want to be an actor anymore’. So much of what you wrote resonates with me. I just dont know what else to do but act. I just recently realised that I think I want a family too…I hope you’re happy doing whatever you are doing now. I like your style of writing. Your personality comes through nicely 🙂 good luck!

  9. What did you do in the end? I just googled ‘how to know if you don’t want to be an actor anymore’ and this popped up. Glad to know I’m not the only one feeling conflicted!

  10. This is spot on. I wanted to act since I was 6. Went to school for it, took some classes here and there, then moved to LA, and only recently started to pursue again. Once I started back it was great, I had meaning, felt alive, was tired but couldn’t care less. Then I took a trip with my Dad and stepmom, and my girlfriend. My Dad and stepmom were so happy, just living life having experiences. The entire time I was worried about missing acting class. The day I got back into class something had changed, I remember thinking about all I’m giving up to pursue this, and started thinking if the end goal was really worth it? I decided it wasn’t and stopped taking classes. Now the hard part is letting go of the dream, or changing how it fits into my life. I’ll still take improv, but the adjustment of the Dream has changed how I think of myself and has been more of a mourning process, feeling of loss. Really sucks when you realize the dream is going to stay a dream. But hey, life goes on.

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