Its frikin' hard to be an actor.
Let me rephrase. Its hard to be an actor in this day in age.
Back when Hollywood was first emerging as a glowing beacon of depraved debauchery, glistening in the remains of broken dreams and lost pride, all you really needed was to be beautiful/handsome, know the right people and the willingness to do whatever necessary to get ahead.
Ok, so not much has changed in that department. However, in this day in age, while a lucky hand dealt in the genetics department and a willingness to do things that make your mother cry will get you . . . somewhere (I can't say far, I don't think the Jersey Shore "performers" can be labeled as going far), if you really want staying power you need be have multiple talents.
For example, let's look at my brilliant roommate, Bryan Fenkart. The man is always crazy busy. He is the understudy for the lead role in the musical Memphis on Broadway, one of the most talented singer/songwriters I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, has been known to grace the stand-up stage at Carolines on Broadway, and has a thriving voice over career. Now, one of the reasons that he is so successful is because he has so many other talents.
And he's not the only one. Super famous people do lots of other stuff too. Russell Crowe has a really smashing music career, as does Keanu Reeves, Daniel Radcliffe is doing the Broadway thing, Steven Spielberg produces, and you would be astonished to know how many big Hollywood actors go over to China and Japan and shoot commercials over there. They make a boat-load of cash and most of the time they don't even say a word, because the distribution for the commercial is only for the Asian market.
Its even tougher when you consider the life of the actor who has not made it. You cannot simply be an "actor". You have to make yourself someone to talk about. So that means being a great actor, which means classes and practice and diligence. Unless you have an interesting "look", most people should put themselves in really excellent shape - which means working out, yoga, dance, swimming, pilates and all those other weird work out things where you use machines and stuff. You don't have all the time in the world to wait for another person to give you work, so that means producing your own stuff - be it plays, a movie (feature length or short), pilots, doing stand up comedy and the like. And it is best if you have more skills, like writing or singing or music and stuff.
In addition to all this, you also need to make money. Which means getting a "real job".
But, you know, you always know the people who really love what they do. The more they invest themselves in being creative for the enjoyment of others, the more joy you know it brings them. You find a way to make things happen. The funny thing is that no one achieves "success" in the entertainment industry in the same way. My road is much different from Bryan's road, which is completely different from my James's road.
Sometimes it would be nice to have a map though. Just saying.