Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Reader, the other night I went to hear a Very Important Man (VIM) who is involved in my industry speak. A lot of what he said I nodded appreciatively at, and I applauded at his work and even stood up when everyone else did at the end to give a standing ovation (although I felt a bit silly given he hadn't just performed or done a Ted Talk). But there was one thing out of all of the things he said that I really, really disagreed with.
A young student in the audience asked for advice for people who wanted to be actors and he replied, in all seriousness; 'Don't be in a relationship, don't get married, don't have kids'.
To that, I say BOLLOCKS.
In case you mis-read, that is a very clear, BOLLOCKS.
Being an actor is not always easy. When you're working, it can be the best job on earth, but the set backs are hard and sometimes it can be emotionally traumatic. Last week 3 potential, well paying, career changing jobs melted away into nothing when I found out I had been lied to by a professional catfish ( you can see the vlog on that HERE). I was gutted. I was scared. I felt invaded. But about a year ago, I was also lucky enough to meet someone who changed my life and who knows more about me than anyone else in the world, someone who I respect as an actor and producer, someone who gives great advice and who I love so much that sometimes it scares me a bit. So when at first I tried to overlook the fraud, he sat me down and gently made me look properly so that I'd see going to meet this person was unwise and would put me in an unsafe situation. When I felt stupid he told me all the thing that made him proud of me, that I often overlook. When I cried, he held me and kissed me till I stopped shaking and then sat me on a terrace in his jumper and brought me wine and chocolate. By the morning I felt ready to do detective work on the fraudster and properly report them, and felt more positive about my life.
If I had been single, I wouldn't have had that sounding board. Yes, friends and family are incredible and make my life wonderful every day, but being in a relationship you get a cheer squad of one and a partner in crime to back you up and help make difficult decisions. Now I'm not saying you need to be in a relationship as an actor, of course not! I've been single as an actor, and it was fulfilling and excellent! But it didn't make me a better actor. Nor does being in a relationship, but it gives you some much needed support in an industry that can sometimes be very lonely.
You also have someone to share the good times with-we've celebrated so many achievements together, and because he's there to see how hard I work at it, he knows how important it is when something finally pays off and we take huge amounts of joy from our successes.
Ok, so being in a relationship means that when you go to work abroad or on tour you have someone to miss, but that just means that you have something excellent to come home to. True, you can't just jet off to live in LA at a minutes notice but a) when would you have done that anyway, leaving all your family and friends behind and b) to be honest I would follow my partner anywhere, and I know he'd do the same-what matters is that we have someone to enjoy the journey with us.
Now please don't take this as me single shaming, it's not at all. I loved being single, I was great at being single, I was a single actor for a year and my career was just dandy. But don't let people tell you that being in a relationship gets in the way of your career. If you're with the right person, it supports it. You determine how your life works, how your relationships work, how your career works. If you're in a relationship that's holding you back, then it may be time to look at the dynamics of that relationship. But for goodness sake, don't give up on love just because some 'industry professional' told you to. That's their experience. Not yours.