One of the most demanding aspects of an actor's life is the constant need to improve, year by year, month by month, day by day, moment by moment. There is no let up – when one set of questions has been answered, a new set of questions arise (some questions are never answered, the struggle is ongoing....), these new questions make new demands upon the actor and he must improve himself in order to meet those new demands, and further, he must become someone capable of constant self-improvement. The realisation that the actor must engage in continual struggle (with himself, his art, and his life) causes many to quit as they begin to see that the actor's life is not quite the cosy one of celebrity parties they might have imagined, and if they don't quit, then many become hacks, burying their head in the sand by pretending no improvement is necessary, and that in any case, money is the only thing that counts.
Everyday the actor needs to strive to improve himself, improve the way he thinks, his technique, reaching greater heights of self-discipline, becoming stronger in order to work more productively for longer, and in addition he must help his allies, promote the culture he wants to participate in, and ultimately strive to become the very embodiment of his ideals. And all this is not easy. When one objective has been accomplished, a new objective must be articulated and understood (and this process is in itself challenging, let alone actually accomplishing the new objective), and the actor must become aware of where he is at in this process, otherwise he is likely to become confused and lose direction. Crucially, the actor must be aware of the shortfall in his skills which may cause him to fail to accomplish the new objective, and steps must be put in place in order to make up that shortfall. Again, this process is difficult in itself. Ultimately however, this work must be done every single day if the actor wants to construct precisely the body of work he wants, this is the kind of pressure he needs to live under, constantly, and be energised by the pressure rather than crushed. And yes, this is very different to living a life hoping your CV “lands on the right desk at the right time”. If one aspires to ever greater heights, then one must commit to ever greater dedication, for you can achieve only in proportion to your capabilities.
If you want to be a great actor, then nothing less than total dedication will do. And if your goal is to become a great actor, then you will be one of those rare people who knows the meaning of their life because you will understand what each of your actions mean. Why? Because you can measure each of your actions in relation to your goal. Are you going to go out and get drunk, or are you going to go home and do your voice exercises, then read that Moliere play before relaxing in front of a movie?
If your goal is to be a great actor, which is to say, one capable of producing a great work of art, my support is available to you, and I wish you every success.