Everyone expects actors to be visible all the time. The question I most often get when I meet new people and tell them what I do is "Would I have seen you in anything?"
No. Probably not.
As actors, so often, much of the work we do goes unseen. The training, the preparation for roles, keeping in shape, auditioning, taking classes, etc.
Even the actual work we do may never see the light of day. Films go unfinished. Training videos get a limited audience. Plays can only be seen by those who attend, and are never seen again.
This week, my new year started off with a bang, as I recorded a spec spot for a big company. A spec spot is only created by an ad agency to sell the client on creating the ad in the first place, so if they do it for real, it will be a live spot with live people, and most likely not me.
And I also just got cast by another Big Company to do an internal training video, which only their employees will ever see. We shoot next week, and I'm working on memorizing my script.
I'm also back at my Standardized Patient/Patient Educator job, where I help train the doctors of tomorrow by participating in patient simulations (you know, so that your doctor actually treats you as a human being and whatnot). It's an amazing job, and I feel very honored to be helping with this very important task. But I'm never going to be reviewed for my performance as Jane Johnson, who presents at clinic complaining of abdominal pain.
No wonder our profession is SO misunderstood. No wonder we feel like our families don't understand. They see the people who get the close-ups and ignore the hundreds of background extras who all worked their asses off to make a realistic fight scene. They see the movie stars, and not everyone else hustling, not to get famous, but just to make a living doing what we love to do.
I feel very grateful to have these jobs. To be chosen. Even if no one will ever see most of it, I know how many other actors are out there putting in all that invisible work just to keep doing this. Your family may not understand or respect how hard you have worked, and the sacrifices you have made to live this life, but I do.
Keep going. And may you one day be the one who gets the close-up.