Martial Arts Movie Stars


(September ‘96/#13)

Joe Blow, from Shmucksville, Idaho, thinks he oughta be in pictures. He has practiced the martial arts ever since that dojo opened up down on Main Street, and he has a black belt, and he can go Whoop! Whoop! better than Bruce Lee, and….

Some people get irritated by that sort of attitude. I don’t. Why should ignorance irritate me? Only my own ignorance should irritate me. However, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t offer some sort of program to help Joe Blow outgrow his own ignorance. Let me start by explaining the phenomena that is occurring.

When a person gets a black belt he becomes expert in an artform. Art has to do with expressing oneself creatively. Ergo, it is only normal that Joe Blow, once he becomes an artist, begins to look for more ways to express himself creatively. And as a culture raised on the boob tube it is only logical that we all aspire to become boobs. Well, maybe I didn’t say that exactly right.

Anyway, it isn’t wrong for Joe Blow to move to Hollywood and get a copy of the trade paper and find out where to stand in line with all the other Joe Blows of this world. In fact it is sort of admirable that a fellow would believe in himself so much that he would do such a thing.

So he stands in line, meets a casting director, demonstrates his highkick, and never gets a part, and after a while waiting tables gets old and life goes on and he never gets a part and he never gets a part and….

What Joe Blow should have done, before he left home town for Tinsel Town, was join the local acting troupe. There are high school and college productions, there are community productions, there are small production companies in every town.

Should Joe Blow demand the lead role just because he can kick high?

Nope, he should be grateful if they let him paint scenery or move heavy furniture.

And, while we’re at it, what about that dance class? What about learning a little jazzy dance or ballet? Or tap? And what about enrolling in the class at the community college that analyzes Shakespeare?

You don’t want to do all that? You know what the first thing you would be doing if you were actually, beyond all odds, taken under the wing of an agent that probably didn’t know any better in Hollywood?

Yep, all that stuff, and it wouldn’t be free or downright cheap like it is in your own home town.

I live in Hollywood. I know actors. It isn’t unusual to see a fellow wait on tables 6-8 hours a day, go to dance classes, acting classes, music classes, mime classes, improv classes, and do the ‘behind the scenes’ work in a small stage production, and pay for it all himself.

You’ll even have to take martial arts classes, because knowing how to dismember somebody on the dojo floor is light years different from knowing how to dismember somebody for the camera.

Where is the camera? Where are the lights? How do I kick and still keep my face in the shot, and the right side of my face shoots better, and the director keeps asking me to speed up even though I’ve hit the stunt man and he’s pissed off but I can’t make my mark and still avoid the sound man and….

Want to hear a real Case History? This is what happened to me. I did all the stuff I’ve told you about here, and in Hollywood I was told, by an acting coach that had actually won an oscar, that I could make it. Then she asked me one question.

‘What would you do if you had a million dollars? What would you do if you had enough money that you didn’t have to work?’

I thought about it. I had answered her that I would act, but in my heart I knew that wasn’t the real answer. The real answer was that if I had a million dollars, if I had enough money that I didn’t have to work, I would do the martial arts. And here I came face to face with a truth of my life.

I didn’t have to have a million dollars to do the martial arts. I could be poor and do the martial arts. I could just do them. And there went my acting career.

So what do you want to do? If you want to go to Hollywood…great! If you want to do martial arts…great! Whatever you want to do you should. It’s your life, and if you listen to the naysayers, or allow yourself to be talked out of something you really want to do, then your life is not your own. So go for it, but go for it prepared, and increase your chances, and before you go…make sure you ask yourself the question. No matter what the answer you’ll be richer for it. And that’s the truth.

This page has been dedicated to Martial Arts Movie Stars.

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