Last year, a survey found that the top three career aspirations for 5-11 year olds in Britain were sports star, pop star and actor—as compared with teacher, banker and doctor 25 years prior. And according to the Pew Research Center in 2006, 51% of Generation Nexters (ages 18-25) say they rate becoming famous as highly valued. This reflects an increase up from Gen X’s 29% (ages 26-40). Gen Nexters were shaped in a culture with personal computers, cell phones, the internet, and personal profiles on social networking sites. While the majority of them agree that such technological tools help them to make and maintain friendships, they agree such tools make people lazier. In the entertainment industry, a general concern is the growing sense that actors are drawn to the field primarily for celebrity status, and less so for personal development and to hone the rich craft of the theater. How many times have you marveled at the beauty of a leading lady but were decidedly disappointed by her acting performance? How many reality TV show participants rely heavily on a shockingly bad attitude and seem to be placed in the plot to traumatize the others on the set and increase ratings? Personalities like Richard Heene (aka Balloon Boy dad) and Steve-O keep us chatting or laughing amongst friends and colleagues for days. To deny there is a welcome place for these characters in our culture is simply untrue. But according to a study at the University of Rochester, researchers found that subjects motivated by external goals like praise and recognition revealed lower emotional well-being than those with internal goals like personal growth or physical health. Likewise, psychologists have linked fame seeking with feelings of abandonment and rejection. And, as more and more people are ready for the limo to drop them off at the red carpet after taking one acting class, the numbers are stacked against them. Many are bound to face disappointments as far as achieving stardom. So instead, learn to manage expectations, commit to the true art of acting, and realize how capable you really are.

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