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In 2005, I booked my first local TV commercial as an actor. The spot for retail chain selling electronics, appliances and more aired on Houston TV stations. It came as I was in the midst of working as a freelance video producer and surprised more than a few people who didn’t know about my secret interest to work on camera as an actor.

It’s important to note, a single commercial does not turn one into a professional actor. Nor does booking several commercials. Moving from Dabbler to Devotee involves a small yet very important step unrelated to credits and income generated from the roles. 

I was definitely a Dabbler back then. I remained a Dabbler for years. Dabblers limit themselves. They make excuses why they can’t do more. They defend their choices as being comfortable and acceptable. Dabblers usually don’t set specific goals and don’t clarify their intentions to create and contribute to the overall industry.

In my case, the desire to act professionally began in college but didn’t get nurtured and prioritized. I didn’t look for resources and identify potential mentors. Instead, I found myself on a variety of professional paths that felt related to acting without actually being acting.

My parallel paths in radio, TV news, and local TV programming did serve a purpose, of course. I made a living, learned a wide range of skills, and enjoyed experiences that would later serve me as an actor. But I wasn’t doing what I truly love in those times. I was holding myself back and waiting for some magic moment to reveal itself.

I didn’t clarify my intention to be a working actor very quickly, partly due to the same obstacle many of us face. I was afraid. Also, I didn’t know what steps to take. As years passed, I felt more lost and getting further and further behind. The Dabbler mentality began wearing me down.

Seeing the success of people I knew personally was part of the change in moving from Dabbler to Devotee. I was able to observe, evaluate, and understand what was involved in helping them achieve their goals. The process was no longer abstract and achieving my own goals suddenly seemed within reach.

Being a Devotee begins with simply making your intentions clear to yourself and others. Your interest in the craft goes far beyond getting a single role and focuses on building a career. The Devotee aims for personal as well as professional growth and sees every opportunity to audition and work as both a blessing and a responsibility. The paycheck is a value-added to everything else and the pursuit of fortune and fame is not typically part of the equation.

If you’re one of those people who is “playing it safe” right now as a Dabbler, I encourage you to examine what you truly want to accomplish with your acting. If you remain at the entry level stage of your career, even after several years at it, take some time to imagine what life would look like if you were immersed in a successful acting career. Then, ask yourself what it would take to create that success. It won’t happen overnight, but you maybe closer to switching from Dabbler to Devotee than you think and it simply starts with discovering yourself.