First off, I’d like to thank the Academy for bestowing this invaluable honor upon my ever-humble and grateful shoulders. Mom, Dad, my dear family, thank you for supporting me post-stardom — I certainly couldn’t have done it without you. And to my loyal fans, I genuinely appreciate all the cupcake baskets and cheese platters you leave in my driveway, you have impeccable taste. And in turn, thank you to my critics who scrutinize the waxing and waning of my pant size and hypothesize on the likelihood of pregnancy from my excessive cupcake and cheese consumption. Thank you all for mercilessly judging me. Because of your judgments, I now have skin like a crocodile — impenetrable. Thank you and goodnight, my dear Academy.
When I lie in bed at night this is how I picture my Academy Award acceptance speech going. But for now, I’m just Marcie Anker, “The Professional Student: Acting Edition.” It sounds like a superhero memoir. But alas, Marvel has rejected my pitch about the sassy super-senior student. So we will just go with this: “Marcie Anker: The Life of the Starving Actor (Help Me, I’m Poor — Sad Face).”
You’ll notice that I refrain from referring to myself as an actress. Tell me, is a female painter a “paintress?” A female musician a “musicianress?” A female potter a “pottress?” Although, admittedly, pottress has got a ring to it. The answer is “no.” So please, don’t call me an actress. I’m an actor, an artist. Call me a feminist, call me sexist, call me what you will — just don’t call me an actress.
Now, I’ll try to keep my inherent actor’s snark at bay, but I can’t make any promises. The preconceived notions and misconceptions about actors and theater majors are endless. Contrary to popular belief, there is, in fact, a difference between “actor” and “performing circus monkey.” We will not do special tricks, sing, dance, spin on our heads, etc., for you upon request in the middle of a party. And no, I will not recite a monologue from “Romeo and Juliet” just because you bought me a drink — make it two.
Many people don’t, or won’t, distinguish theater from film, and that is something I’ve come to terms with as a stage actor. “Oh, you’re a theater major? So, like, you wanna be a movie star? Oh my god, you could have totally played that girl in the ‘Hunger Games,’ or, like, Kristen Stewart’s character in ‘Twilight’ because, like, let’s be honest, you’re so much prettier than her. And she cheated on the sparkly vampire!” My ears have bled to that tune more than once.
When I was in high school, the back-handed comparison to a sub-par movie star would have been the ultimate compliment. To me, being an actor meant being a viciously sexy, unbearably charming movie star who lived in Hollywood, wore dresses without needing Spanx, and used Benjamins as toilet paper. Talent, work and failure weren’t words that existed in my acting fantasy. But boy, did I get a reality check when I arrived at the Temple’s theater department — the ultimate humbling experience.
A lot of people are frightened of “theater kids,” and frankly, I don’t blame them. I’m terrified of my colleagues on a daily basis. And I’m sure — or at least I hope — they’d say the same about me. Unpredictable, emotional, loud, volatile and dramatic are all valid descriptors. I’ve strayed.
The training I have received thus far is extraordinarily atypical, so attempting to describe a “typical” actor’s lifestyle would be nearly impossible. What I can tell you is this: I’m 23 years old, and in the past four years of theater classes I’ve screamed, cried, laughed, barked, mooed, oinked, hissed, kissed, jumped, rolled, crawled, slapped, danced, sung, not to mention feasted my eyes on an unnatural amount of nudity (jealous?) I couldn’t be happier.
The actor lifestyle isn’t about structure, it’s about destruction and reconstruction. It’s about falling down between the cracks of normalcy into an abyss of raw, unhinged emotion and finding out who we really are. Acting is not about pretending, acting is about telling the truth. Let me tell you, having a truthful breakdown — in character — while simultaneously thwarting drool and snot leakages — as yourself — in front of 15 strangers is an incredibly cathartic experience as an actor. Some may think that isn’t as fun as it sounds, but that’s what I do. We theater folk are a rare breed.
You might be saying to yourself, “OK, I get it, but what about a job, do you have a job?” To that I’d reply, “How exactly do you describe this elusive ‘job’ of which you speak?” Does having a job mean having rehearsals from 6–10 p.m. every night? Why then, yes. Yes, I do have a job. However, if said “job” means having an income, a bi-weekly paycheck, well, no comment. Help me, I’m poor — sad face.
In my world, the realm of theater, the chances of landing a paying job are about one in every 30 auditions. I figure I’m at the halfway point. Any day now.
Until then, sit back, relax and enjoy my embarrassing failures and impending successes as I tread the boards. Donations to the “Feed Marcie Anker Fund” can be sent to Barton Hall, third floor — cupcakes and cheese platters preferred.
Marcie Anker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.