Posted in:One Less Bitter Actor

I read a book that came to me in the most reliable way…it was left in my space so long that I took it as a sign to read it. It was a book written for the business world. Marketing.  But…it came to me so I knew I had to read it, right? We love when information finds us in a romantic way, don’t we? One page into this book he writes, “this book is about love and art and change and fear.” Ummm…that’s every thought and feeling I have every day, but anyone can write these provocative lines to capture a readers attention, how would he pay this kind of sentence off in a marketing book?

It’s called Linchpin by Seth Godin and the book absolutely connected the dots for me on so many things. Terribly unlikely that so many lovely actor epiphanies would come from a book that’s trying to illuminate business folks to the new economic model that’s happening right now. It’s called Linchpin because it’s about making yourself indispensable. Making yourself an un-dismissable Linchpin to your community. We actors are always being told that it’s the real standouts among us that get noticed, and, then we are told what to do to stand out. This has always struck me as just a marketing ploy to sell actors another class.

But haven’t you always felt that if you were really brave enough to be yourself, that you should stand out? And if you don’t stand out, that must mean you have no real talent? This is what we are sold and this is when we start to employ gimmicks and stunts to get noticed. It feels awful while you’re doing it,  but,  getting a job by way of gimmick is always better than not working, right? So “whatever it takes!” is usually the thought.

As a consideration on this dilemma, here are two art definitions Mr. Godin puts forward in his book;

“Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.”

and

“Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.”

This is a marketing book? A business book? People in business think of their work as art?  That definition knocked me over because I didn’t see it coming, and, it created an awareness in me. Art, any art, should be for the purpose of changing the world. The whole world, your immediate world, the world of your neighbors, friends and cast mates. What if you took that point of view and stopped thinking of changing the world by getting rich enough through your acting career to donate to charity or start a foundation. What if you set out to change your world with every act of art you create? Gifting the world with change is a heady thought isn’t it?  We don’t think that way because we have been trained to only see massive things like Star Wars as how art changes the world.

But I want to be an indispensable artist. Do I have the courage, the arrogance, the personal investment to try to change the world…?

Mr. Godin says very clearly…yes…