I’ve been reading Andre Agassi’s autobiography.

Besides all the very interesting accounts of his life in Tennis, I am reminded of just how hard athletes must work to be the best – how extreme their sacrifices are, how much pain they must endure, how they must struggle to manage their feelings about themselves, the press and their competition, and how very important it is that they select the right team to support them.

It’s comforting to know this.  Because those who commit themselves to a career in the arts will have to make the same sacrifices and deal with the same hardships – IF they want to be the best. 

Of course many, many, don’t want to be the best – they don’t even want to be the best they can be.  They just want to be famous. (But this is not about those actors.  I’m not interested in them.)

While it has never been so true that ‘many are called, few are chosen,’ what I know to be true is that becoming a great actor still requires the same attributes as becoming a great athlete.  And I’m becoming less and less interested in students who just don’t care to become great.  They’ll settle for their friends and family telling them they were “awesome” even when their work is forgettable.

I am confident that the best artists among us (whether they are known on unknown) are just like our best athletes.  They have made the same sacrifices, experienced the same anguish, have had to reckon with the same inner demons, have felt pain beyond measure, have gone months if not years without a good win and yet have found the courage and stamina to continue on.  They continue to prepare for the moment of opportunity in their future when all of their skills will have to be mustered, and they are not delusional about how good they are going to have to be. They’re also willing to be the tortoise in a race full of hares.

It takes a tremendous amount of passion to be a great tennis player and as much passion to become a great actor.  Passion!  Not just motivation but passion, which comes from deep within. 

Many believe they have the passion but only a few will be able to couple that passion with the relentless work ethic and daily commitment to the repetitious skill-building activity that is required to produce strong muscles that cannot fail you. Few will be willing to put all their resources towards their career.  Few will be willing to give up their social lives in order to be rested for a class or rehearsal.  Few will be able to handle the criticism or tough love they need to become tough enough to survive a career in the arts. 

Many are called; few are chosen.  Even fewer are ever known.  But the few who dedicate their lives to getting better against the odds will achieve a tremendous and rare gift.  They will developed courage.  They will have confronted and accepted their own humanity. They will have gotten to know themselves well and be able to say “I’ve had a wonderful life.”

Make no mistake about it.  There will be costs.  So be thoughtful before you begin.