15 Stages of Being an Actor at Beverly Hills Playhouse San Francisco

Note: The following is the opinion of this student and is in no way an expression of the views of Beverly Hills Playhouse San Francisco.

1. Acting Is Fun.

You meet the people in your class and everyone is beautiful and friendly. You are super excited to read scripts and apply every single item on the checklist to your scenes. You are going to be a movie star!

2. Confusion Sets In.

You start to hear things that sound simple during critiques, but when you try to apply them during rehearsals, you can’t seem to get them right. You see other people hitting the notes and wonder what they are doing differently from you. You wonder if you will ever be as good as they are.

3. Every Day a Little Death.

You start to push your limits and are simultaneously scared and exhilarated. You are doing things on stage you have never done in real life. People, routines, and goals you once held dear now seem ridiculous. Your beliefs are shifting and you discover who you are and who you want to be. Friends and family are surprised by the developments in your character. Some are supportive; others are not.

4. Pick a Partner.

If you were single when you began class, you are now dating the first person you did a romantic scene with. If you had a boyfriend or girlfriend when you started class, you feel even more awkward and guilty about romantic scenes than your single partners. If you were married, you are either closer to your spouse or considering divorce depending on their level of support.

5. The Hunger Grows.

In your desperation for a win, you write elaborate back stories for your characters and spend hours in thrift stores looking for the right costume and props. You have re-read Milton’s acting books a dozen times, and you spend your limited free time reading about acting and watching videos about filmmaking you illegally copied from a fellow BHP student.

6. The Stage, She Beckons.

You get a role in a BHP production and fantasize about how much your acting will improve. You wake up at 4am for the first rehearsal and realize you can’t back out or Rob will kill you. You lose more and more sleep until you and the entire rest of the cast is sick on opening night. You hate this feeling but you never want it to end. After closing night, you feel a rush of relief and a gaping hole in your life.

7. Little Orphan Annie.

You feel closer to fellow students at BHP than to family and friends you have known your entire life. When you hang out on the weekends, your invites are posted as messages to the BHP Facebook page rather than group texts. When you invite more than two BHP students to something, you feel guilty if you don’t invite another 50. You have broken up with your first romantic scene partner, and you are secretly messing around with a different BHP student who may or may not match your original sexual orientation.

8. Money Talks.

You have a reel, a website, and business cards with your newly-appointed stage name. You quit your full-time job and now live partly on acting, the rest on Lyft driving. You are finally SAG Eligible and you’re starting to feel underpaid. You ask your agent not to send you on auditions for anything less than $500/day. You expect a small stipend from short films rather than “food & iMDB credit”.

9. The Grass is Greener.

Half your actor friends are in LA. Every day, you see selfies on Facebook from your Hollywood counterparts on the sets of TV shows where they are a “featured extra”. When you watch movies, you think, “I should have been in this role.”

10. The Renaissance Is Reborn.

You are frustrated by the lack of roles in SF that challenge you. You vow to never again work as “cool, nerdy hipster types” or be in student films. In your frustration you (with the support of your latest BHP boyfriend/girlfriend) purchase camera, sound, and lighting equipment. You started out buying new mid-range equipment and spend a whopping $1,500.

11. Big Fish, Small Pond.

You run into familiar faces at every audition or event, whether it’s cast or crew. Agencies direct book you rather than holding auditions. You feel calm and confident in auditions and on set. You have tried every type of acting San Francisco has to offer: commercial, extra, featured extra, body double, stuntman, backup dancer, community theater, standup, and improv. You feel too guilty to refuse helping out other BHP productions, and you have now built sets, done wardrobe, directed, produced, done marketing and run concessions.

12. Big and Bigger.

Once you saw how amateur everything you filmed looked, you upgraded to used professional-grade equipment for a total of over $8,000. You spend your weekends creating scenes for your reels, and you have done every facet of production: photography, lighting, sound, acting, directing, producing, and writing. You now own at least three lenses and know the prices and hours for film equipment rentals within a 25 mile radius.

13. Life Is a Stage.

Nearly every friend you have is involved in the film industry in one way or another. Anyone else you see on holidays only. All events you attend are related to the film industry. Every movie you see gets analyzed instead of watched. Everything you buy or do is related to acting. You start to imagine the casting for everyone you meet. You have begun to suggest acting to your friends as a form of therapy. All your dreams include fears of forgetting lines, being late to the set, disappointing Rob, or never making it in the industry.

14. Escape SF.

You now travel to LA for really big auditions. You’re not landing any major roles, but you tell yourself auditioning is all part of the proces. Over and over again. You have been a featured extra on more than one cop / emergency room drama, and you’ve made it onto the Sci-Fi Channel in an alien abduction reenactment.

15. Reel ‘Em In.

You land your big first role in LA! You take it as a sign: it’s Beverly Hills or bust, Baby! You convince your BHP sweetheart to move down with you to split living costs, and both of you crash in the living room of a BHP LA student for a few months until you can find your own place (and an agent). Due to the cost of living difference, everything is 20% off!

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