When you are in school or just starting out, a lot of people will offer up their opinions about what you should do with your life. When you share your showbiz aspirations, everyone becomes an entertainment career expert. But there are four categories of people who you should not take advice from:
PEOPLE WHO HAVE A VESTED INTEREST IN DASHING YOUR ENTERTAINMENT CAREER DREAMS
This could include your parents, your girlfriend/boyfriend, your best friend, or anyone else with a strong attachment to you. They don’t want to risk losing you by having you go off in a new direction, whether it involves imminently (or ever) relocating to another city or not. This also includes people who fear the presumed instability and potential heartbreak of an entertainment career. This is mostly an area your parents specialize in, as they don’t want to have to support you financially or pick up the pieces of your broken heart if things to not work out. (More on entertainment career stability and your parent’s concerns here.)
PEOPLE WHO HAVE A VESTED INTEREST IN FEEDING YOUR ENTERTAINMENT CAREER DREAMS
This includes friends who are relocating far from home and want someone to join them on their adventure, but primarily refers to people who want you to pay them for helping you in some way with your entertainment career. Your friend’s motives are easily seen (his car is practically already packed!) and taken with a grain of salt. But if someone is trying to sell you something, whether it sounds (or is) legitimate or not, no matter what they say, assume their encouragement is financially motivated. Get a second (and third) opinion from someone who is not in one of these categories.
PEOPLE WHO HAVE TRIED AND FAILED TO REALIZE THEIR OWN ENTERTAINMENT CAREER DREAMS
Your older brother who moved out to L.A. to act and came back a year later (or five years later) without one credit to show for it. Your mother’s friend who was a singer with a struggling rock band for a number of years until she “settled down to raise a family.” The neighbor who wrote four screenplays and couldn’t get an agent. Yes, you hear these stories as soon as you mention that you want to try working in entertainment. These people will try to convince you it’s just too hard. “Don’t bother,” they’ll say.
PEOPLE WHO HAD ENTERTAINMENT DREAMS BUT NEVER PURSUED THEM
Anyone who ever performed in a school play or had a garage band probably had entertainment dreams at some point. Don’t worry about them. This category refers to people who took it further, such as writing screenplays they never showed anyone or drove to the local “American Idol” auditions and never went in. They most likely won’t tell you about these secret pursuits, so be wary of anyone who seems exceedingly attached to whether you go for your entertainment dream career or not. They might say, “Are you crazy? Those things never work out for people like us! Right?” Or, conversely, “You gotta go for it before it’s too late! Right?”
The problem with career advice from members of these four categories is it’s more about them than it is about you.
Your protective father is thinking about how he devastated he is when you face disappointment. Your brother might be afraid you will show him up if you pursue an entertainment career and actually succeed. Your friend who did a drive by at the “American Idol” auditions is thinking about why she can’t muster up the courage to get out of the car when you are talking about making a movie or applying for a job at a production company or moving all the way to L.A. to work at a talent agency.
Make sure when someone tells you what they think you should do that it’s truly about you. There are lots of options for working in entertainment. There are countless ways to start and succeed at an entertainment career, each with their own degrees of difficulty, some with built-in safety nets. The people who are considering your best interest will ask about your plans in detail and offer as much guidance as they feel comfortable offering. They will help you explore possibilities and strategize and they will be supportive no matter what you end up deciding to do.
Woman with hands over ears image from Shutterstock