The Importance of Having a Life Outside of Acting

It took me awhile, but I finally understand the importance of having a life outside of acting.  Recently, my friend Chiggy was telling me about a conversation he was having with a fellow actor.  The guy’s opinion was that, to truly be committed to the craft, you have to immerse yourself 100% and do nothing but act. You can’t have a day job and every waking moment should be spent training or creating content. His opinion was that If you can’t commit that fully, you are not a true artist.

And that is the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard.

The Importance of Having a Life Outside of Acting

I know people like him… they are always in class or studying or auditing a class or filming shit or scouring the acting sites for auditions. Acting… Every. Waking. Moment. I find that a bit boring. In a recent conversation about this, one of my actor friends pulled out an old cliché and told me, “But David, I love acting and if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I love a good slice of New York Style Cheesecake. To me, it is perfection on a graham cracker crust. But, if I ate nothing but New York Style Cheesecake, I would get sick of it pretty quickly and I might deny myself the discovery of other wonderful things to eat.The Importance of Having a Life Outside of Acting

In my opinion, to be a true artist, especially in acting, you have to have to have a life as it will inform the choices you make as an actor. If you spend all of your time acting or training to be an actor, you can’t bring anything real to a performance because you aren’t experiencing anything real in life.

Now, I’m not saying not to train and create your own content… absolutely. Training is essential, but you have to find balance. If you focus only on that next audition, or class, or YouTube video, it can wear you down. Acting is a tough business, so you have to have something to provide relief from the stress of the business of acting.

So, get out there!! Find a day job you enjoy, make friends who are NOT actors, do some charity work, train for a marathon, hit the gym. Live a litte. It won’t kill you to spend an evening with friends and not buried in a script. Having things you enjoy outside of acting keeps you mentally healthy, in my opinion.  As four-time Academy Award nominated actress Annette Benning so beautifully states, “Having a life outside of movies is like pure oxygen.  It makes the work more precious and informed.”

When I moved to Los Angeles, I came here with the goal of not doing much related to acting for the first six months. Of course, if my agent or manager sent me on an audition, I prepared and worked (and loved it).  But I thought it was important for me to get settled into my own new life before I started trying to bring life to other people’s words. I’m glad I did! I see so many people jump in to this thing 110% without anything else to fall back on and they flame out. The way I see this business is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And I think it’s important to take it at a reasonable pace to keep your stress in check and have a life that you can draw from in your performances.

Of course, every week, I’m working on something. I had three auditions yesterday. I’m in class each week and I’m reading as well. But, in addition to being an actor, I also have a day job that I love. I go on hikes, enjoy movies and dinner with friends, do charity work, and write for a non-acting website. All of these things help keep me grounded and get my mind off the stress and rejection that are a part of an actor’s daily life. Having a “day job” also prevents me from living my life depending on that next booking to pay rent.

So, yes, train and work hard as an actor! But, have a life too. As actors, we are storytellers and, I believe, to be able to tell a story effectively, we have to lend a bit of our own voice to it. We create our voice by having a life of our own!