I was reading an article called "They Don't Call it 'Show Art'", and I thought there was one part that was extremely interesting regarding the actors coming from a college theatre background:
What about actors in training who become so focused on their craft that they neglect business realities? Templeton has taught acting for the camera in academia and other settings where students work as a group for some time, and she finds that students in these "fishbowl" environments don't always receive a thorough grounding in how the industry works. They sometimes think the outside world will be "indebted to them" upon graduation, and they ask her, "Why should I work on sitcom exercises when I've played in Antigone?"
I have a degree in pretend from a very tiny private university, and it's true, after we graduate we go to New York or LA and are a bit bewildered as to how to start. We never learned the business of acting. We kinda just flailed around doing things other people told us to do that didn't work for them, but were told to do by other people and so on and so on.
But I think the blurb in the article is a little unfair. We don't LEARN the business reality of acting. We don't learn about the odds of us succeeding as actors in school. And the reason might include that we are taught THEATER at school, not TELEVISION. Show me an arts school with an acting for television major. That'd blow my mind. So of COURSE we're going to leave our institution thinking, okay, I've been a lead for several shows, I've been nominated for the Irene Ryan, the highest acting honor at the collegiate level, and I've been the school's darling since year one. I've done several PLAYS. Because in the theater world, there is makeup, and leeway with how you look. You don't go auditioning for Hamlet wearing tights and a crown. But god knows, for a two line co-star role for "Renaissance Faire Go-er" they'd ask you to come in wearing your RenFaire wardrobe. Theater seems to take itself seriously: Theatre casting directors don't need you to dress the part when you audition. Some TV casting directors do. And it seems silly. So we judge early on.
But here's the thing: we're learning acting from theatre professors. Sure they might have a "Silk Stalkings" re-occuring co-star role that could just be background work, but the professors are most likely failed TV actors who absolutely love theatre and teaching and are really good at inspiring young people. But we can't learn the TV business from them, as they mostly have no clue about it either.
I wish there was a better way than trial by error. It'd make things so much easier, and time go by so much faster.
Oh wait. Nepotism.