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Adam Scott on the Humiliation and Embarrassment of Acting

Adam scott 3In a new interview with The A.V. Club, Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation, Party Down) discusses his career trajectory, why he regrets not going to college, and how ensemble casts make him look good. The actor also admits that he related to the characters in Party Down, the Starz original comedy series about struggling actors and writers who work for a low-rent catering business, because he already "understood the humiliation and pain" of being an actor.

Read an excerpt from the A.V. Club Q&A below:

AVC: Looking at your career trajectory, it kind of feels similar to Henry’s [in Party Down] in a way. When you saw the part, did it kind of have any familiar ring to you at all?

AS: Yeah, totally. I immediately understood the general air of humiliation that comes with trying to do something as ridiculous as be an actor in Hollywood. It’s just kind of an embarrassing endeavor. I never had that thing where I had this success where people were stopping me and saying embarrassing things to me at the time—I mean, now I have people telling me [Henry’s catchphrase] “Are we having fun yet?”—but at the time, I didn’t have anything like that. But I certainly understood the humiliation and pain of having to stand there and feel like a piece of garbage while you list your credits for somebody who wants to know what they may have seen you in, and then it turns out they haven’t seen you in anything, they had just met you before or something. You just feel like an idiot at all times. I think all of us in the cast related to that. Being an actor is just kind of embarrassing. So I think we all certainly saw a lot of truth in it.

AVC: Is it embarrassing because you put yourself out there and you get rejected a lot?

AS: Yeah! You really do get rejected a lot. I’m not trying to elicit sympathy, because it’s not real work. There’s certainly harder things in the world and the country to do than being an actor, but it’s a particularly emotionally humiliating thing to do, that you don’t really anticipate when you choose to do it. You don’t really think that it’s going to be quite so soul-crushing at times.

Do you agree with Scott? Do you ever feel that being an actor an embarrassing or humiliating career choice at times? What makes you continue to pursue your dreams in the face of adversity, and how do you handle rejection or a bad audition? Share your comments below.

-- Daniel Lehman

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I completely agree with Adam. As an actor, you are expected to bare your soul and dig deep to find feelings and emotions in an instant, only to be told you didn't get the part. But, as an actor, you know this about the industry. It's no secret, but that doesn't make it any easier, and when it happens to you, it can be crushing, to say the least. What keeps me going, even knowing that this profession isn't as glamourous as once presumed, is my love for it. I love all things acting, even the negative aspects because that's how life is. It can't ALL be good because without the bad, we can't appreciate the good. I guess what it comes down to is knowing who you are inside and out, and not letting some person who doesn't know you make you feel less about yourself. After all, it's just a job :)

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