Bitter or Better?



Bitter or better,

What’s it gonna be?

What you gonna do?

Bitter or better,

The choice is up to you.

The lyric above came floating out of my subconscious mind as I was reading Markus Flanagan’s book, One Less Bitter Actor. The book was sent to my partner because she’s an acting teacher.

As an invited participant for her advanced acting class audition sections, I am always interested in the latest book on acting—especially on the business of acting, where most of my experience lies. I am of those who has sat on what’s known as “the other side of the table.”

Flanagan’s book is an easy read, full of wise and earned-by-experience advice. Some of my favorites (paraphrased) …

An actor doesn’t get paid for acting. We do that for free. What we get paid for is all the auditioning and all the waiting.

What a great way to look at it! Everyone has to invest in their own career. Everyone. Actors more than most. In the beginning of an acting career, 90% of one’s time is spent looking for work, and an actor considers herself lucky to work 10% of the time.


Your biggest and best competition is yourself. Don’t compare.

Oh, yes, comparisons, to quote that obscure philosopher Fortescue, are odious. As an actor, you never know why you didn’t get the part. Any part. The reasons are legion and very rarely have anything to do your acting ability. Comparing yourself to others is simply self-defeating. Do something different.

You’re not a diva until they start to treat you like one. You don’t get to determine your diva status on your own.

Darlings, really. The Golden Rule applies on a set, in a television studio, on a stage, and in your life. Be nice to everyone just because it’s easier. Diva status is all about spin, hype and other intangibles which ultimately mean nothing. Don’t play diva—even if you are one. Play gracious, mannerly, timely, elegant.

Markus Flanagan has been a working actor for two decades. There must be a reason for this. Talent, of course, but also affability, easy to direct, mannerly. He’s writing to make sure that young actors don’t get bitter.

I’m still with songwriter Jana Stanfield on her album, Brave Faith.

Bitter or better?

The choice is up to you.