The Talent Myth
Every once in a while a student will come up to me after class with a heavy look in their eyes and say, “Hey, I know this is a really silly question to ask and I’m embarrassed to be asking it but do you think I’m talented enough to do this?”
Every time someone asks me that, I feel like I’m looking into a mirror because that’s a question I’ve asked myself countless times throughout my acting journey.
I’ve gone through different stages of how to answer this question for myself. In my tweens and teens, when I felt self-conscious wondering if I was talented enough, I’d remind myself that I was the most talented actor that ever was. That when I grew up and got outta my small town, everyone was going to see my brilliance and recognize my talent. In my early-mid twenties when I had very little confidence in my acting abilities and wondered if I had any talent, I’d tell myself that I had found out that I was talentless and should probably give up. The talent fairy skipped me and decided that I was never going to be a good actor.
In the last five years working and teaching full time, and getting asked this question from students looking for an answer, I’ve developed one to tell them that I now tell myself whenever I’m feeling self-conscious wondering if I’m good enough.
I tell them (and myself) that “talent” in the way many people look at it doesn’t really exist. Well – sure – some people have more of natural ability than others. That’s true. And this natural ability is certainly a leg up when it comes to getting started but being an actor isn’t about getting started. It’s about being persist, developing your craft, sharing your voice, getting comfortable putting yourself out there over and over again, and making an impact with your work in the way that means something to you. Much more important than talent is the willingness to do the work. The idea that some people are born destined to be great actors and others aren’t just isn’t true. When we tell ourselves this myth, we get in our way of actually doing the work. Taking baby steps we need to take in order to reach our goals like taking an acting class, getting those headshots, submitting again, and again, and again.
So if you’re talented – that’s awesome! If you’re not – who cares! Talent isn’t a marker for future success so don’t let the talent myth hold you back.