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Should I dump uni' for a small screen role?

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Question - (30 January 2017) 24 Answers - (Newest, 2 February 2017)
A female Australia age 26-29, *aveiafuture writes:

Hi everybody, I have a difficult decision to make. I am a student at uni studying accountancy. About half a year ago I suffered a nervous breakdown and was allowed to take break from my studies. I was experiencing a deep depression and took this opportunity to stay with some relatives in Europe. It has been a few months now. I have been living in the moment and appreciating life. After this long hiatus I seem to be fit enough to return to classes and continue what I started. I just require a few more months of studying before I can graduate.

However, something pleasantly unexpected has popped up during my stay here. One of my friends here is a stage actress and I sometimes followed her to her acting classes. I even took some acting classes myself. Through her I was acquainted with one of her movie studio friends who recommended that I try out in an audition for a mini series they were filming in Europe.

I went along with his suggestion and surprisingly the casting director called me for several screen tests with the principal cast. I was shocked when I came face to face with a famous face I have seen on TV several times. I had only assumed that it was going to be some low budget soap opera.

Last week I found out that I have been offered a coveted role in this production. I am in a small supporting role, but it is nevertheless an important role with quite a few lines to remember. I am not just an extra but will appear in nearly every episode.

Principal photography starts in June. I haven't signed the contract but most likely I will have to commit for a long period of time, probably a year or more. I will need to go for voice lessons with a dialect coach and they will even hire a personal trainer for me to get in shape.

It seems like I will need to choose between finishing my studies or embarking on some uncertain acting career. Personally, I feel that accountancy is not what I really wanted to do. However I am one of the top students in my class and it feels like a waste of my cumulative effort if I were to throw my education away this close to completing it. The truth is I can't bear to return to my classes, meet my old course mates I can't get along with, or sit in an office for 8 hours a day. My parents, they hope that I will finish what I started. They are very proud of my academic achievements. I would say that if I go back to school I'd be doing it for them. If I stayed in Europe I'd be doing it for me.

Would love to hear your thoughts. Cheers!

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A female reader, Anonymous 123 Italy + , writes (2 February 2017):

Anonymous 123 agony auntThere is no substitute for education. Studying will never let you down. You may not use your degree today but one day or the other you will be glad that you have it. No one has ever regretted completing their education.

I notice that many aunts have told you to go for your dreams, postpone your studies, get back to them later. As someone who has a PhD, there is one thing that I can tell you. When it comes to studies, never ever put them off for "later". The moment you put in a gap, it just sort of slips away and it becomes very difficult to get back to studies after that.

There is no doubt you've taken the right decision. All the best to you. Now you know how dodgy the entertainment world is and you have to be either incredibly lucky to land something great without compromising or you just have to let go of your morals and drop your clothes and sleep your way into it.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (2 February 2017):

I was a little disturbed when you were told that completing your education wasn't all that important. The problem with postponing it is, you'll put it off and procrastinate until you just drop-out altogether. That is usually what happens.

You don't want to spend the rest of your life with low-wage jobs offering you no upward-mobility, and jobs you just hate.

Well, as fate and destiny has decided in this case; it appears school may be your best option after all. You may want to always include theater and acting classes as part of your curriculum to continue down that path; if that is your real dream. I didn't advise you to give that up, if that is your calling.

Never let anyone tell you that an education is something you can set aside or pursue some other time; because to earn a good living you need an education. Just as you've learned, you may have to reject possibly good screen-roles; if they go against your core values, or make unreasonable demands.

I wish you the best of luck in whatever you want to do.

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A female reader, maverick494 United States +, writes (2 February 2017):

Wow, what an unprofessional piece of shit. Seriously, hearing this makes me want to bash his head in like an old potato. I know this stuff still happens and that it's a toxic industry for most female hopefuls, but still. It shouldn't be this way.

You dodged a bullet there, with your dignity intact. Good you saw through his sexist BS. It's not an opportunity when it doesn't benefit you.

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A female reader, maverick494 United States +, writes (2 February 2017):

Wow, what an unprofessional piece of shit. Seriously, hearing this makes me want to bash his head in like an old potato. I know this stuff still happens and that it's a toxic industry for most female hopefuls, but still. It shouldn't be this way.

You dodged a bullet there, with your dignity intact. Good you saw through his sexist BS. It's not an opportunity when it doesn't benefit you.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (2 February 2017):

Honeypie agony auntThanks for the update!

Well, that should give you a nudge to finish your degree and work on saving up for the psychology courses.

The whole notion of "casting couch" and women in movies and tv being objects is nothing new, it's just a shame it doesn't seem to change.

And I DO think there are people out there in that industry who knows not only how to manipulate people but to take advantage of you (especially girls)for their OWN gain.

Good lesson to learn. Because even if you don't pursue acting you now know that not everyone is looking out for YOUR best interest.

Honestly? Glad you declined. The guy deserves EVERY single woman to decline to work for him!

Doesn't sounds like a low budget soap but a low budget porn...

But finish your degree. EVEN if you don't want to work in the field. And then see where life takes you.

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A female reader, haveiafuture Australia +, writes (2 February 2017):

haveiafuture is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Thanks everybody for your opinions.

I just came back from his office. Just wanted to let you know that I have actually rejected their offer as I felt they were objectifying women.

The contract requires me to lose 6 kilos of weight before filming begins. Well I gained a bit of weight recently but I am only 5 kilos heavier than I my usual weight during my modelling days and most people still say I look very thin now!

Also, he said that they were so impressed by me that they rewrote my character to be more prominent, and this included many additional nude scenes which I feel are very gratuitous and don't serve the plot at all.

They initially misled me by saying that there was only one sex scene that requires nudity. I also did not like the way he was talking to me when he told me to take this role or leave it there are many actresses who will die to be in my position. I should have known there was something dodgy about this offer. I knew it was too good to be true

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A female reader, aunt honesty Ireland + , writes (1 February 2017):

aunt honesty agony auntGo for it. It is your life, don't live it by what you think others will want to see, you do what makes you feel alive and good about yourself. So many people in the world, homeless lying in a gutter, there are people with degrees stuck in jobs stressed and unhappy. Live your life and be happy. Good luck with it. How exciting!

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (1 February 2017):

Yes, go for it girl!

When I was young, I had a minor role in a sitcom. I was on set at most two days a week. Most of my time was spent in the gym working out.

I wish I had more work. To make ends meet, I drove a cab. My acting career was ultimately a failure, but I have fond memories of those good ol' days.

Bear this in mind and plan to have side income as well.

All the best! Let us know your final decision.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (31 January 2017):

Good luck, sweetheart! Always have a Plan B!

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A female reader, maverick494 United States +, writes (31 January 2017):

Just saw your latest follow-up. Whetever happens, don’t feel gloomy about your current achievements. I made a lot of mistakes in the past and I have a well paying job in IT, without actually having a degree in it. Yup, I got two degrees and my current job is related to neither. My CV looks funny because of it, but it also makes for an interesting story to tell during job applications, and that has always worked out well for me. So don’t worry so much. Sure, your character might not even make the final cut but at least you will have had the experience!

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A female reader, chigirl Norway +, writes (31 January 2017):

chigirl agony auntPS. Just saw your follow-up. Even if you don't have a full degree, you CAN still list your academic achievements on a CV and still get a job on that basis. What good would a degree in accounting do you if you KNOW you don't want to work within this field? It wouldn't matter at all then, if you have a finished degree or not, as you're not planning on pursuing a career within this field.

People who hire others for jobs as far more interested in work experience, and that you have a network and social contacts, than academic achievements. My degrees have helped me 0% in getting any job I ever had. What got me the jobs I have had in life was social contacts and people who know people who offer jobs + my hobbies and volunteer work experience. So career wise, I don't see a problem at all with an unfinished degree, as long as you can explain why it's not completed. Which you can, because in your case you were offered a job that would be the cause for the academic "break". It is something else entirely if you just happened to drop out because you were bored, or your CV would end up with a big hole in it.

So career wise, as long as your CV does not have any unexplained gaps or missing time periods, you're all good.

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A female reader, chigirl Norway +, writes (31 January 2017):

chigirl agony auntGo do the acting. No question about it.

School isn't going to disappear. It will be there when your soap is done/when or if you find out you no longer want to do acting. Really.

This is one of those things when you are young, you think you MUST finish your education before you're allowed to live life. This is something people are just telling you. School will be there, and you will be able to pick up where you left off. Sure, you need to remind yourself of the lessons already learned, and maybe do a bit of extra reading and studying, and maybe you might need to take a few extra classes to refresh on some subjects. But really. I say you'd be 6 months delayed at most.

And for what, this acting chance will probably never come back again. And then you'd sit there with your accounting degree and in a boring office and wonder "what if" for the rest of your life. Not worth it.

Go act. Then pick up on your academics once you're done, if you haven't found anything else that is more interesting to do in the meantime.

Of course though, make sure you get paid enough to pay your bills and not ruin yourself financially. As long as it's financially possible, I say go for it. Life is here and now.

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A female reader, maverick494 United States +, writes (30 January 2017):

The time that having a degree meant you were pretty much guaranteed a secure financial situation in the future has long passed, if it even existed. Now it's more like a type of noose you pick to hang yourself with, and I'm saying that as someone who has not one, but two degrees.

Not many people get the opportunity you got, so I'd say, go for the acting job! Your only true currency in life is time, and many people trade time for an amount of money doing an activity they tolerate at best, loathe at worst.

"Golly, if only I'd stuck with the degree that interests me none whatsoever" said nobody ever.

"If only I'd taken a chance on [insert any activity that interests you]" says pretty much everyone on their deathbed. People universally regret the stuff they didn't do in life.

So go for it! But for God's sake, BE SENSIBLE ABOUT IT. Lacking common sense is the source of all the horror stories. I had a friend who had a quarter life crisis and then sold her rental home, all her belongings and then just moved to London to pursue her dream to become a film director. Well, she ran out of money really quickly, couldn't find a job to save her life, failed her director's course because her money troubles were stressing her out, etc. I had warned her beforehand but she wouldn't listen.

I'm all for chasing your dreams, but some people think that includes running around like a headless chicken. So use these remaining months to create some funds for yourself and freezing your college credits so you can come back to them later and switch to a field you do like, if your acting career doesn't pan out.

Spend the remaining months leading up to the job saving money, finding an extra job you can fit in between the acting stuff, basically trying to secure your financial situation somewhat so it won't give you a stress ulcer.

Good luck and have fun!

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A female reader, haveiafuture Australia +, writes (30 January 2017):

haveiafuture is verified as being by the original poster of the question

I think I will go ahead with this acting gig and see how it goes. Just crossing my fingers. I hope the show does not get cancelled after one season, or my character gets killed off. My scenes might even be deleted in the final cut.

If it turns out well, then good! If it fails, I might just go back to school. Would be nice to tell people I have a degree even if I don't end up using it. I don't think my degree will be useful for me though as I messed up and made some bad choices in the past. I don't think any employer would want to hire me.

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A female reader, Anonymous 123 Italy + , writes (30 January 2017):

Anonymous 123 agony auntThere was a story that I'd read a long time ago as a kid. I don't remember it correctly but there was a man who was on the way to a wedding and while waking along the road, he came across a tree with ripe peaches on it. He was hungry and the sight of the peaches was tempting but then the thought of the feast at the wedding was even more alluring. As if there was even a contest between the humble peaches and a grand wedding feast! He plucked the peaches and threw them into a ditch so that he wouldn't give into temptation and hurried along for his lunch. When he reached the place, he was told that all the food was over because he was late and politely turned away. On his way back, he picked up the peaches from the very ditch he had thrown them in, cleaned then and ate them.

Your accountancy studies are the peaches and the acting role is the feast.

Think before you leap.

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A female reader, jls022 United Kingdom +, writes (30 January 2017):

If it were me, I'd postpone my studies and go for the dream. It might not lead to a career, yet equally it might. The only way to know is to try and see what happens.

You're in a position that so many would love, so if it's something you want I think you should go for it and see where it leads you. I speak from experience too - I've recently managed to fulfil my dream of becoming a screenwriter in the UK but it took a long time to get a 'break' and acting is even more competitive. What's the worst that could happen? You go back to your studies later and you have a fun story to tell the Grandkids one day! Good luck to you!

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (30 January 2017):

Your education is your either your primary goal, or your fallback plan. You need it.

A small screen-role means little to nothing. It may be a long time before something else comes along, and you may as well complete your education in the event you do have to return to your regular life.

Even the greatest film-stars and actors have lulls in their careers; and seek side-jobs like commercials, product endorsements, appearances, and reality TV.

One role doesn't always make you a star, sweetie! If you have to postpone it; or even take online courses, complete your degree!

Having a degree will give you more of an edge. To be well-educated also offers you the intellectual-flexibility to play any role you like; because you have a full-exposure to the academic world of books and knowledge.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (30 January 2017):

Honeypie agony auntYes, if you finish your degree (even if you don't work in the field) IS useful.

And having 2 degrees might even be better (again even if one of them is something you will never use).

So I would finish it no matter what, whether it's right away (if possible) or after you have tried your hand at acting.

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A female reader, singinbluebird United States + , writes (30 January 2017):

singinbluebird agony auntLife is so short--- School will always be there! This opportunity is once in a lifetime.

Even if acting career doesnt pan out, you can always say you did something cool in your 20s. You have the rest of your life to go back to school. But only one chance for a acting gig.

Good luck =)

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A male reader, BrownWolf Canada +, writes (30 January 2017):

BrownWolf agony aunt

Actor or not...Having an Education is best role you can play.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (30 January 2017):

there are countless aspiring starlets in hollywood lured by promises of stardom but never really make it. it's best to have something solid to fall back on and dont just rely on your looks, sweetie.

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A female reader, haveiafuture Australia +, writes (30 January 2017):

haveiafuture is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Unfortunately, online courses are not offered. I know credit transfers might be possible between local universities. It is also possible to keep postponing my courses although not indefinitely.

I forgot to mention, I am 100% sure that I no longer wish to have a career in accountanxy, so the question is more of, should I complete my studies for the sake of completing them? Or might my degree come in handy in some way in the future?

I was actually contemplating switching to a psychology course as I have more interest in this field. Though I am not looking forward to several more years in classrooms and besides I can't afford to financially.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (30 January 2017):

Honeypie agony auntIf you only have a few more months left to study and the shooting doesn't start til June I'd try and do both. Or like Auntie YouWish mentioned, finishing the last semester online.

If you can't do both (RIGHT NOW) go for the dream. How many opportunities like this will you get? At least that is what I would do.

And who knows, after a year's contract you may or may not still be part of the cast, if you are, keep going if you enjoy it and if not, finish that degree. Accounting is not a study or degree that is "time sensitive". So you CAN go back and finish either the last semester OR year.

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A female reader, YouWish United States + , writes (30 January 2017):

YouWish agony auntIs there a way you can take online courses while doing this screen role?? Many credits can be earned online. Is this an offered option at either the UNI you're attending, or a uni whose credits would transfer?

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