The life of an actress might seem glamorous, and it absolutely can be. But acting is also a demanding profession with plenty of ups and downs. To get a glimpse behind the curtain, we spoke to South African actress, entrepreneur and founder of the Actors App, Paige Bonnin.
The path to becoming an actress
You may know Paige from hit shows like The Girl from St. Agnes and Bedford Wives, but how did she get into the performing arts? From a young age, Paige was involved in ballet and later on, modern dancing. As early as 10 years old, she started performing in TV ads and later on, recording voice-overs too. Paige headed the Cultural Committee of her high school, and was a part of Beyond 2000 drama school. She also competed in the South African Championships of the Performing Arts.
The daily grind
“Your day will never be the same as the previous day. If you crave structure, consistency and plans, this job is not for you.”
A day in the life of an actor varies. “On some days you'll have 3 auditions, while on others you'll have 1 or none”. An average day can involve everything from running errands, voice exercises in the car and castings, to volunteering and part-time work. “An actor’s schedule can suit you if you’re looking for variety and personal time to work on your craft and passion projects”.
Paige goes on to explain how the booking and shooting process works. “If you’re booked for a job you’ll be given call times, which describe your working hours. Legally, actors work a 12-hour day. You could either be called during the day or night, depending on the scene and location”.
“Before getting on set, you prepare by rehearsing lines, warming up and making sure you've eaten properly. Once you arrive on set, you’re taken to make up and wardrobe. You’re then plotted on set with the director and your co-star. Then you're ready to shoot!”.
Expectation vs. reality
“We’re living in an instant generation and unfortunately, a career in the arts is not instant - it’s the result of many years working, moulding and going against the grain in society. The grain that tells you 'get a real job’."
What’s the biggest misconception about acting according to Paige? "That you'll be famous. A lot of people want to act because they want to be famous. This can be tricky because being a performer isn’t easy. It requires patience, heart and above all else, pruning. Pruning in your personal life and pruning in your heart”.
Paige explains that you need to be ‘all in’ when it comes to acting. “If your soul isn't completely committed to being a vessel for stories, you might become disappointed and quickly disheartened. Fame can be amazing but it comes with a cost. Many people who endure the race of this industry are committed to elevating the arts - not just fame”.
Advice for aspiring actresses
“Show up. Tell the truth and bring life to your character. That is enough. It is always enough.”
Are you an aspiring actress? Here’s the advice Paige has for you: “Be prepared to face a lot of rejection. Doors close, call backs get cancelled, people will candidly speak in front of you about your appearance. Be strong in the face of this, know who you are, what you want and your boundaries”.
Paige is adamant about the importance of setting and maintaining firm boundaries as an actress. “Don’t let anyone shame you into doing or being something or someone you’re not”.
Finally, remember that while “it’s easy to blame yourself when you're not booking work, it’s so important to know it's not always about you. So many details go into the casting process, so you can't possibly control all them”.
“The obstacles are plentiful but doing what you love is the most rewarding and exhilarating feeling. If you're reading this with a small thump in your heart and a busy mind... welcome Thespian!”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! If you’d like to pursue a career in acting, we hope these words of wisdom from Miss Bonnin have inspired you. Good luck!