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For The Love of Acting

For The Love of Acting

How I Became An Accidental Actor

By Michael Applebaum

One of my biggest life discoveries has been learning how many people are drawn to acting that are just like me. Growing up, acting was one of the last things I could ever imagine doing. It was right up there with surgeon and electrical engineer (the sight of blood freaks me out and I am quite possibly the least handy person on the planet). I was always a very rational, analytical kid. I hated pretending. I cringed whenever my best friend, David, coerced me into playing the fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons. Even as an adult, as I became a successful professional writer and editor, I never thought I had much of a creative imagination, at least none that could translate onto a stage.

For The Love of Acting: FRAGMENTS

Then something interesting happened after I turned 40. I had hit a wall in my personal life and started to withdraw socially. I had recently moved from New York to Chicago and left friends and family behind. I transitioned from a staff magazine editor to freelance writer, which in retrospect was too isolating an existence and led to bouts of moderate depression. I spent a lot of time alone, spinning my wheels and getting most of my emotional needs met by my beloved dog Max (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Then, one day, I had a theory. I wondered if acting could help break down some of those walls and get me out of my head.  My therapy had stalled, and I saw acting as a potential way to circumvent my considerable psychological defenses. I started taking classes at ASC, and gradually began to fall in love with it.

Initially, I had no clue what acting was about. The stereotypes I had amassed from popular culture turned out to be completely wrong. I thought acting was essentially the process of spontaneously generating fake emotions — and I assumed all actors were fake people, too. To my great surprise, I soon discovered how normal many of us are! Well, by “normal” I really mean smart, thoughtful, productive citizens of society. I’m sure many actors, like me, are a tad crazy, but not in the “flaky” way I had assumed. There’s a method (pun intended) to our madness.

Today, one year out on the Chicago storefront theatre trail and with three shows under my belt, I am thrilled about the role that acting plays in my life. Finding a love of acting, I think,  completes me as a person. For years I’ve had the nagging feeling that I should be doing more with my life, both personally and professionally. I’ve now discovered what that “more” is.

Acting brings out my best personal qualities. I am a happier person when I act, and people (including auditors, but also friends and family) can see that immediately. I express myself in ways I otherwise would not do. I smile more. I let my guard down, open up and let people in. There is no telling what impact that this will have on me for the rest of my life. I am so grateful to have made this wonderful discovery. And I intend to make the most of it! I hope everyone out there does too.

Michael Applebaum


If you have a story you’d like share about how you discovered acting, what you love about acting or how acting has affected you or your life in a personal way, please e-mail us at rachael@actingstudiochicago.com