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[FILM] How to be a Movie Star

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  • madchinaman
    Want To Be A Movie Star? http://www.asianweek.com/2002_11_29/arts_reelstories.html There seems to be a perception among the general populace that being an
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 7, 2002
      Want To Be A Movie Star?
      http://www.asianweek.com/2002_11_29/arts_reelstories.html

      There seems to be a perception among the general populace that being
      an actor or even a movie star isn't that difficult. I bring this up
      because it feels like every day, at least a dozen Asian Pacific
      Americans seem to appear out of the woodwork, determined and
      convinced that they will be the next Tom Cruises and Julia Roberts'.
      Usually these folks were pursuing a different career path (doctor,
      businessperson, lawyer, etc.) before deciding to give it all up to
      follow their dream — acting.

      So for any of you reading this and contemplating a career change
      because you're thinking, "If Adam Sandler can make it, then how hard
      can it be?" — read on for some humble words of advice.



      DON'T DO IT: It's a tough business. As an APA actor you will have to
      struggle. Just making enough money to earn a living above the poverty
      line will be difficult. You'll be begging for a one-line job on some
      inane TV show playing some stereotypical character you would
      otherwise ridicule. If there is any other job or career you even have
      a remote interest in, do that. Choose acting only if it's the last
      option; if you would rather die than do anything else. And even then,
      think long and hard before you make the leap.



      TRAIN AND LEARN DISCIPLINE: Usually when someone approaches me and
      says they're thinking of becoming an actor, they ask one of two
      questions: 1. How do I get an agent? 2. How do I make a lot of money
      doing this? The answer to those two questions is irrelevant. If you
      want to act, the first and only thing you should be worrying about
      is: How do I become a good actor? And the answer is to train, learn
      your craft and be disciplined. In other words, put in the hard work.
      Take classes, do student films, get involved in theatre, study the
      great actors and great films, read, learn as much about the world as
      possible — all these things will help make you a better actor.
      Remember there are thousands of others out there who are fully
      committed to their crafts and careers. Become one of them.



      DON'T DO WHAT OTHER ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN "STARS" HAVE DONE: There
      are very few examples of APA actors who have made it to "stardom" and
      most of those who were able to make it have not been able to sustain
      their star status for more than a few years. Why? My theory is that
      these actors have relied too much on Hollywood to take care of them.
      They expect Hollywood to keep offering them roles, but at some point
      those offers will dry up and Hollywood will move onto the next hot
      thing.

      This is an area where I think we can really learn from the African
      American filmmaking community. There are major African American stars
      who have managed to sustain long-term careers (Denzel Washington,
      Halle Berry, Wesley Snipes, etc...). Most of these stars got to where
      they are because they supported African American filmmakers (and vice
      versa). A good example of this is Samuel L. Jackson. He got his big
      break in films working for Spike Lee (leading up to his breakthrough
      performance in Lee's "Jungle Fever"). He parlayed that into a
      Hollywood career but once he gained clout, he used it to support up-
      and-coming black filmmakers (i.e. Kasi Lemmons' Eve's Bayou, which
      Jackson appeared in and co-produced). This relationship based on
      mutual support is less evident with APAs. If you're lucky enough to
      cross the threshold of stardom, build relationships and develop those
      who will support you for the long haul, because Hollywood doesn't
      care about you.



      HAVE WHAT IT TAKES: Finally, keep in mind what writer-director Robert
      Towne (Chinatown, Mission Impossible) said: "What was once said of
      the British aristocracy — that they did nothing and did it very well —
      is a definition that can be applied to movie actors. For gifted
      movie actors affect us most, I believe, not by talking, fighting, f--
      king, killing, cursing or cross-dressing. They do it by being
      photographed ... a fine actor on screen conveys a staggering amount
      of information before he ever opens his mouth."

      What Towne is referring to is that "movie star quality" — that thing
      you either have or don't. Very few possess this quality. If you
      happen to be one of the lucky few, go after your dream with
      everything you've got. Despite all the negatives I described, we need
      APA movie stars, because in Hollywood being a star means you have the
      power to make a difference. If we want to see some real changes in
      the way APAs are perceived and presented on both the big and small
      screens, we need our own movie stars who are willing to make that
      difference.


      ----------------------------------------------------------------------

      Philip W. Chung is a writer for film, TV and theatre and co-founder
      of Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, an APA theatre company. He is the
      writer/director of the forthcoming APA horror film Children in the
      Mirror, www.childreninthemirror.com.
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