All About That Betty
Have you ever wondered what it takes to becomes a common household name? Then ask Betty White, the name that households have known and loved for generations. Literally, generations. In her book, Betty starts off one of her chapters with “Sixty-three years into the business…” (pg.
35) Doing some math, she’s telling us her career started back in c.1948. But some die-hard fans argue that it started in 1939, starting with her radio job and an experimental TV job for her local station. That said, she’s been in the entertainment business since before the Television was a common household item. But that just adds to the charm and character of all that is Betty White. To become the most loveable name in Television History, it takes hard work and talent.
Yet, at the same time, you need to keep your morals in mind. As she explains: “I do manage to utter the ‘NO’ wordif the schedule is on overload or if the script doesn’t appeal to me- the latter being the real issue.” (pg. 35) Sticking to your guns may cost you some jobs in the beginning of your career, but when nearing the end, it will give you one to be proud of. That’s all that really matters in the end, you being proud of yourself. If you worked for years and years on your career, and looking back you always played characters you never liked, where’s the self-respect in that, or respect for the art itself? Becoming a name families love takes more than just talented acting abilities.
I can say that when I watch a TV show and I Wikipedia the people in the cast, if I find that an actor has a large background full of mistakes and little to no good to make up for it, then my respect for the actor goes down, and consequently, my appeal to the show decreases. If you were to look up Betty’s background, you will find nothing shockingly horrific there. She truly is as she appears on TV and in the movies: sweet and loveable. Many actors will do almost anything for attention if their career begins to fail, or perhaps they feel the public hasn’t thought of them in a while. In Betty’s case, she thinks nothing of the sort, even feeling as people are getting a “Betty White overdose” (pg.
41) That type of modesty is what has kept the world’s eye on her all these years, and in order to succeed in being a household name, you need to learn to do the same. You can waste your money in order to try to get some false ID made of yourself, but unless it is genuine, people just won’t respect you as much. And we as a public know when someone is faking or not. But if some has been able to lie to the public for sixty-three years about her love of animals, then mention it in her book (pg. 107-110), then you’re a da*n good liar.
Honesty is the best policy. Being someone that is constantly in the news isn’t an easy task, either. On that, having strength and confidence is not a want in this business, but a necessity. If you have no confidence, then your acting is weak, no one will hire you, and your career ends. With no strength, people will walk all over you, take advantage of you, and have you play roles you don’t like. If you want to be portrayed as a dramatic actor, but always get cast in comedic roles, your career and your time is being wasted.
You need to have the perfect balance of both in order to create a strong character persona for yourself that people will come to love or hate, if you want to go down that route. Appearing confident and appearing “put together” helps to build your career. If you get a job on a show, like Betty did on Mary Tyler Moore, and people absolutely love you even if you had a small role, then later on bigger roles will come your way, like they did for her in The Golden Girls. But acting isn’t everything. Sometimes, things depend on the cast you have.
I can guarantee that The Golden Girls wouldn’t have been as a hit if either the characters were cast different or the cast played different roles. But it’s up to you how well you play the character, because that is what determines if the character gets remembered, and if they get remembered, then so do you. In order to focus on your acting career, your personal life needs to be low-stress, and your ability to deal with stressful situations needs to be high. If you are stressed out because of something at home, then you go to work and can’t remember your lines or anything else for the day, then that just adds on to the stress pile. Things keep adding on and adding on until you can’t take it anymore, and you lose it.
Betty makes a good point: “If one has no sense of humor, one is in trouble.” (pg. 4) Laughter is the best medicine. Truly it is. When you’re sad, you think of something funny to cheer you up. When you see a funny picture, you laugh.
Laughing is a stress reliever, and make you feel better about everything bad going on around you. Take her advice, and laugh. You’ll work better and feel better. To become more tolerant to the things that typically annoy you is not an easy task. There is no medication for it, and there is no particular answer for everyone.
What would work best is to take something you enjoy doing; reading, writing, drawing, painting, whatever, and do it whenever you feel stressed. Deep breaths, you are going to make it out of this OK. If you ever need motivation, think back decades on the people like Audrey Hepburn, Gene Kelly, and Clark Gable, who had to give up hours of their life and free time to devote time to their movie. There was no green screen or special effects. If you wanted someone to jump across a building onto the next, you better hope they can stick a landing. Betty is one of the few surviving actors and actresses that were trained in this time, which is why she takes her profession as, well, a profession.
Listening to her advice, stories, and wisdom will only help you succeed, and soon everyone will know your name. Throughout her book of wisdom, Betty uses the form of Narrative to describe to us how to become a successful actor or actress. She recites to us her real life stories and situations, and along the way shares with us some personal things, too. She starts off as a young woman, and even with skipping years here and there, leaves us with her current career as a mature adult. I look at her book for inspiration on how to be a better person everyday, and on ways on how I can improve my life. Not too many people like Betty are left in this world, which is a real shame.
But if you follow in her steps and are a genuine person in all that you do, you will become the successful person you want be.