You going to college (aka You're leaving them)
You going to an ACTING college (aka Historically unsuccessful career path)
School costs a ton (aka 💰💰💰💰💰💰😵)
Every actor auditioning for top drama schools deals with their parents (or guardians or whoever is there with the actor through the decision-making and auditioning process).
And every parent is different.
Some parents are supportive and educational. They want to make their child happy and will communicate what needs to happen in order for them to attend these schools. That’s the ideal, (and more rare) scenario.
Some parents are controlling. A friend of mine (let’s call him Bob) was a talented and dedicated actor and could have had a great shot at any of the top drama schools, but his parents said “You’re not going to college for acting. That’s play stuff and you need to go to college in state for something that will give you a real job out of school.” And finances were not an issue for them at all. They, in their infinite wisdom, believed they knew Bob (and what was good for him) better than anyone. He is almost 30 now, still completely wondering if he missed his calling and works in sales.
So without knowing exactly what your specific family dynamic is, here are 3 huge fears that many parents face, whether they communicate it or not, and a few tips on how to overcome these issues like a pro if don’t want to end up like Bob.
You're Going To College 😭
Fact: It takes an emotional toll on most parents not seeing their precious child as much as they’re used to.
Another Fact: Students go home late at night after rehearsals, and parents can’t be there if something happens.
This sounds WAY overprotective and ridiculous to many students. It did to me.
I remember being in high school and LAUGHING whenever I would come home late and my mom would yell at me for not communicating. “I didn’t know where you were!" She would say. "You could have been lying in a DITCH somewhere!” I didn’t understand her point of view and her extreme emotion was funny to me!
I also thought it was annoying as a high-schooler whenever I would leave town for a competition or something and my parents would call me. I don’t want to talk to them! Funny, and sad, and true.
Again, it takes an emotional toll on parents when their precious child is not around as much and if they don’t know where you are, they can’t be there to help.
So what do you care? This is not your problem. You’re not worried. That’s their issue, right? WRONG.
Do you want to have a good relationship with your parents? Then you need to take the mature route and help them address these issues.
When I went to Juilliard, my mom was worried I was going to get mugged in New York City. She knew that I was getting out of rehearsal late and, in her mind, walking home through dangerous areas. She worried about mice being in my apartment. I mean, the list goes on! And one of my classmates did actually get mugged! No joke. She was all right, but her purse got ripped off of her and she lost her ID, credit cards, and belongings.
So what's the solution?
There are many things you can do to quell your parents fear about you leaving, and you have to decide (based on everything you know about them) how best to do that. Some ways to address this issue are:
Scheduling your visits home so they know when they’re seeing you again.
Frequent check-in calls
Posting on social media and in family text threads for ongoing pictures and fun banter.
Anything else that helps ease the pain that you’re not at home anymore.
You're Going To ACTING College (and chances of making a good living as an actor are VERY SLIM)
Fact: Less than 20% of my Juilliard classmates are making a living acting right now.
This is not a complicated one. Acting is a different career than most, and there are a lot of parents who have not experienced that. This simply creates some fear about how well off you’ll be when you get out of school. It’s an unknown.
So what's the solution?
Sell the “education” aspect. Parents value education. Regardless of what happens in the job world after school, the skills and education you get from great drama schools are SO VALUABLE in the real world.
Remind them that you have been recognized as talented by people who have discerning eyes for talent. You can say to your parents, “You’ve invested in me. I’ve invested in me. If I can get into this great school, it’s proof that the school believes I will succeed in their program and when you succeed inside the program, you’re more likely to succeed outside the program."
Lastly, take initiative to study the business, on your own, outside of class. I will unpack this in another blog, but it’s no secret that schools in general (not just drama schools) don’t do a great job of preparing students for the "real world"/"get a job" part of things after school, so vow to educate yourself on the business during your training in order to ensure more success out of school.
School Costs a Ton
Fact: Average tuition for a top drama school is $50,000/yr.
Me: “Dad, can I have your credit card?”
Dad: “What for?”
Me: “I have another application fee. It’s $100.”
My Dad was concerned. He even said to me, “Anthony, are you sure you want to apply to Juilliard. Do you even think you can get in there?” Obviously his concern didn’t sway me, but school is expensive and I wasn’t sensitive to that when I was applying.
Thank goodness my parents are supportive and have always educated me to the best of their ability. Some parents aren’t so supportive and can sabotage their son/daughter's dreams out of fear of throwing away their money.
My dad grew up in an environment where he could work hard and be successful, and he has been. So he could have easily shoved his views onto me and restricted where I applied and what I studied to fit what he was comfortable with. But he also believes everyone has to have the opportunity to do their own thing.
So despite the pain his wallet felt every time I asked him to cover another application fee or flight for auditions, he was always supportive and communicative and we worked it out.
That being said, it was not a one way street. He asked me to contribute, and I did.
So what's the solution?
Come to the table and say “I know it’s going to be a lot of money, what are some things we can do to make this work?”
There are tons of ways you can contribute to some or all of the cost of your training. Here are just a few:
Student Work Programs at school
Producing your own work
Selling things you own, like a bike you don't need anymore
Asking additional family for help
Working to plant seeds in the industry so you get paying jobs out of schools
If you really want to go and there’s no question in your mind, then take initiative and beat your parents to the punch on these issues. Research all your options and bring them to the table for your parents in order to make your dreams happen.