Don’t Pity Me for Doing What I Love

Amanda Thomas

  • OnStage Connecticut Columnist

“You have to stay up until 1AM to work on your scene?! Oh my God, I’m so sorry.”
“I can’t believe you need to do sixteen hours of homework a WEEK for your acting class! That must suck.”

Sure, sixteen hours of homework a week might not be my favorite thing in the world. But when it’s sixteen hours of script analysis, sixteen hours of delving into an imaginary world, and creating a colorful character you love to hate (or hate to love), it’s all worth it.

It’s worth the eight hours of rehearsal I have to do up on my feet with my acting partner at all hours of the day. It’s worth it because it prepares me for the long Equity rehearsal days I’ll have to do in the future when I’m rehearsing my Broadway, regional, or tour debut. 

It’s worth listening to ten different women speaking in high Southern accents or in RP for hours because I get to develop a new skill. And I get to see the look on my barista’s face when their regular suddenly comes in to order and does so in a new accent. Totally worth it.

I suppose this is the curse of being a theatre major and, in general, being a major in a creative arts field. My career seems ridiculous to those going into international business or even, in some cases, teaching. It doesn’t seem “real” to them because I’m not complaining. And I hear it from my classmates every day. I hear them complain about their internship or their classes and then try and get me to complain about the amount of work I’m “forced to do” for my major.

I’m sorry for them that they haven’t found something they love.

It might be sadistic but I love being exhausted after a full day of acting classes and then a long night of rehearsals. The catharsis of the experience is absolutely addicting and brings me back again and again. And I strongly believe that is what a passion should do. You should have an absolute love for your job that it doesn’t seem like a job anymore; instead, it’s fun. Many actors I look up to and admire have told me that they love going to work so they can play. Even when they’re tired and they have to get up at 5AM to get to an audition, they say they would never give it up for the world.

Why is that such a bizarre concept to grasp? Why should I be pitied and, in a way, shamed for loving what I do and not complaining about it at all? It’s all part of the experience and the process and I’ve accepted that. I love that I get to play in new worlds, be new people, and tell new stories each time I step into my rehearsal space or on stage.

Don’t pity me for being happy in my work. Don’t pity me for the time I choose to invest into making myself the best, well-rounded artist I can possibly be. I don’t mind the early train rides to auditions. I don’t mind the late nights spent rehearsing scenes with my partner or even the times where I lock myself into a practice room and belt until, on the fifteenth go-around, I finally hit that money note. I live for these moments and the moments to come because this is the path I was always meant to travel on. I’m where and who I want to be in the field that I love doing what I love.

Photo: Brooklyn College