The Top 10 Acting Myths

1) You can play anything.

You may have heard this from a well-meaning acting teacher. Indeed, many studios and schools pride themselves on training their actors to be able to “play anything.” As if casting directors are going to consider all actors equally for all roles, as in: “Sure, we’ll see the 26-year-old Yale grad for the 80-year-old grandpa role. After all, he can play anything!” Sorry, all you versatile actors out there, but it just ain’t so.

Obviously, film and television cast with looks and type heavily in mind, but most theater productions also cast to up the realism. This means the “best” actor doesn’t always get the part, particularly if the part is widely outside his or her physical makeup. Yes, there are exceptions, and some productions cast outside type to add levels of meaning to the show, but those ideas are often hatched pre-casting, and the “outside” type indicated in the breakdown from the start. Frankly, there are so many actors available that CDs can stick to the writer’s or director’s vision and still land a great performer. Be brave, go for roles outside your comfort zone, but don’t be surprised if you aren’t seen for characters you are nothing like.

2) Real artists don’t do commercials.

I remember having lunch with a friend of mine from grad school who told me he didn’t think he could bring himself to do what I had done. My sin? Taking money for doing commercials. The funny thing is, I actually felt kind of bad about it in that moment. “Why had I sold out like that?” I agonized. Later, I made peace with the fact that actors act. Sometimes that means playing Viola in “Twelfth Night” and sometimes that means playing the “casual mom” cleaning her house with a “high-performance cleaning cloth.” Happily, the second one can pay off the student loans you took out to learn how to do the first—and buy your sanctimonious grad-school buddy lunch.

3) Theater acting is superior to film acting.

That’s like saying novels are superior to poetry or paintings are superior to drawings. The art is the same; it’s just a different canvas. Actors can do both. They can also do television, commercials, Web series, standup, voiceover, and improv. Don’t let people sell you on these imaginary divisions. They do it only to distinguish their particular area of expertise or, more commonly, to build up themselves…

Read the rest of the myths from Backstage.