I was watching a snippet of the SAG AWARDS 2014, after we finally found it on TV, and absolutely loved Ty Burrell’s acceptance speech when he was awarded Best Performance by an actor in a TV Comedy. It was, by far, the most brilliant acceptance speech I’ve ever heard at any award show. Of course, the audience at the SAG AWARDS were his peers. (other actors) After asking if we had read his book, “Acting: How to do it Good,” he proceeded to give us his 5 Simple Steps to Success (as an actor).
His tips were as follows:
(roughly transcribed from the video)
- Be born into a family that’s never had an actor in it. That way they think everything you do is cooler than it actually is, thus giving you a false sense of confidence.
- Use that false sense of confidence to woo and entrap a spouse that’s better than you and is willing to overlook the fact that you have no apparent skill set other than being a needy extrovert.
- Have no skill set other than being a needy extrovert.
- Use that lack of skill to fail over and over and over again until you stumble into a job written by [insert great writers] and also at that job make sure your co-workers are the cast of [insert great cast].
- Be um . . .#5 uh um . . . er . . . have a knack for memorizing.
Comment on #1
I can’t say my family never had an actor in it. My grandmother was in vaudeville.
My dad did Little Theatre in Dallas in the 40’s playing leading roles with Aaron Spelling as the director. (Aaron was dirt poor at the time)
However, I was lucky that my dad, especially, just adored the fact that I became an actor and was very proud of everything I did. He ended up going into sales instead, but started his own Little Theatre Group up in Running Springs, CA. He had a ball doing that until he and my mom decided to move to warmer digs in Phoenix. My brother, still thinks I need to get a “real job.” I’ve had to develop a few other skill sets throughout the years, (in order to get by) but still can’t see myself working a 9-5 JOB. Plus, with the exception of Walmart, people in my age range don’t get hired that often.
Comment on #2
If you want to be an actor, it’s a good idea to “woo and entrap” a spouse that has absolutely nothing to do with the film industry and has a “real, honest to goodness” job. I didn’t do that. I was married to, and am now living with guys who were camera operators in the Film Biz. Not always steady work. Whoops!
Comment on #3
Many of us actors are actually very shy and are extroverts because of our “need” for recognition and acceptance. When you’re scripted, it’s much easier to appear extroverted, but when you have to have a “spontaneous” conversation with someone and want to come across as “intelligent” it’s much harder. We hide behind our characters. Of course, there are those who don’t give a shit and will just blurt out whatever they want, but I think they’re the exception.
Ty is absolutely right that you should just have “just one skill set” meaning, if you want to truly succeed, you need to focus completely on being an actor. If you’re diverting your attention to “other jobs,” “the powers that be” won’t take you as seriously. The problem is; some of us enjoy eating and sleeping in a nice comfy bed instead of on the street.
I think my voice over agent thought I was crazy when I would come into the office for auditions and attempt to sell everyone skincare and cosmetics. They thought it was cool that I’d earned a car doing that, but I have a feeling they didn’t think I was totally committed to being an actor. After being with them for 25 years, they politely gave me the bump. In my defense, I was a single mom with 2 young kids at the time.
FYI: I don’t sell makeup anymore, but still do other activities, besides acting, because they fascinate me. When I was in my 20’s and much of my 30’s it was all about acting. Then I had kids. Reality set in. Kids tend to balance you, especially if you’re a woman. Now that I’m much older, and the kids have moved out, I want to experience other interests, as well as acting, such as travel, before I kick the bucket.
Comment on #4
As an actor, you have to get used to rejection and not take it personally. Auditioning is your job. You may audition hundreds of times before landing a role. If you obsessed about each audition, you’d go crazy. Getting the gig is your reward for doing your job. Of course, you have to do a great job at your gig, but being able to “act” is your “dessert.”
Just because you were brilliant in a part, doesn’t make you a success.
The people who surround and support you are what takes you to the next level. Ty found an ingenious way to thank the writers of his show and his cast members. He recognizes that his award doesn’t just belong to him, but to the entire company he works with. It’s all about working with talented people who are “in sync” with each other and create an ensemble performance. It’s also about having your project promoted in such a way that it gets the recognition it deserves. A ton of work by a talented “team” will give you the edge on success in acting.
I was impressed with the authenticity and humbleness that Ty brought forth in his speech. That same honesty and truth comes through in his acting. No wonder he won the award.
Comment on #5
Being able to memorize is a skill that all “on camera” actors need, especially. If an actor is unable to memorize his or her lines, or not be able to hit a mark, they get labeled as “unprofessional” and aren’t hired again. Thank God we voice over actors, who may be losing our memories, have a script in front of us at all times. No one has to know we’re on the verge of dementia. That makes us kind of lucky in a way.
Here’s the video of Ty Burrell’s SAG AWARD SPEECH. Go Ty!