Seinfeld used to say, in one of his stand-up acts, that the average american had a bigger fear of speaking in public than of dying, which meant that, at a funeral, most americans would rather be lying in the coffin than delivering the eulogy. It's a stat I've seen quoted numerous times and that frequently sprang to mind while I was watching young actors audition for a tv show.
I, myself, frequently get nervous whenever I have to speak at an important meeting or before a group of people larger than the number of people in my family that get together at Christmas. I'm not at all sociable and only under extenuating circumstances have I been able to share my opinions before the presence of strangers. Well, maybe I'm exagerating, but the truth is that I'm constantly being surprised at the courage actors show in front of their audience.
Many years back, in the 1980s, I myself performed in the theatre, but it was probably just due to unconsciousness. The stage has a special magic and, of course, so do the cameras, be them television or cinema cameras. I guess in that precise moment, courage, enchantment, magic and intoxicating irracionality simply take over a real actor. However, my question is simpler and about what comes before.
What makes a young man (really young, younger than 20 years old) or a young girl, of the same age, sit in a lonely chair in from of three strangers and a camera and, in a shy monologue, expose all his/ her fears and insecurities? Not in the words that someone else wrote, but rather in their squirming hands, shortness of breath and blushing cheeks.
From my experience, there are two basic motives. The first one is what I'd name "calling", a will and an at ease with the acting profession, the knack for being able to get inside different skins and give them a voice, for understanding what a casting is all about and not recite your lines as if they were definitions memorized for a test. Then, there is a different type of actor. Some of them have some talent, some could even become good actors. But acting is not what motivates them. This type is motivated by the limelight, the cost of fame - being stalked by the papparazzi, being well-know.
And what makes them think they can get away with it? A new world of microcelebrities generated by the Internet, a 2.0 world where you can build your own fame. But we'll get to that later.