Career Day: Actor

Tell us a little about yourself and about your job?

Hi there! I am Andrea Daveline from American Fork, Utah. I was born and raised in Utah and had never really traveled outside of that great state until I married my husband 8 years ago. We are living in New York City with our young son.

I am an actor. I have been since I was two-years-old (as a chicken in Mary Poppins). I went to school for theater but ended up getting certified as an optician. Most of my acting training has taken place in workshops and Masterclasses. I work onstage, in commercial, and on film. No matter how many times I try to walk away and do something safe or that makes sense, I am always pulled back to acting.

My husband is also an actor and we have traveled all around the United States, performing together in different venues. Dinner theaters, theme parks, regional theaters, off-Broadway theaters—we’ve done a bit of everything and have enjoyed the ride.

Why did you want to become an actor?

I became an actor because it’s who I am. I have tried countless times to give up or do something else, but this is what I am supposed to do. I have always been drawn to other people: knowing their stories, what has shaped them into who they are, how they overcome obstacles, what brings them joy. For me, acting is the opportunity to tell the truth, to show people different thoughts, different ideas, and how those thoughts and ideas inform the world around us. It’s an opportunity for me to step outside of myself and open my mind. I get to find the truths in someone else’s reality. I also get the opportunity to tell my truth by writing and acting in my own shows. It’s a very symbiotic experience.

What kind of education/training is required?

The fact of the matter is that formal education is not a requirement for my field. While there is a higher level of knowledge and confidence that comes with formal education, that knowledge can also be acquired through workshops, classes, and training.

But you must be able to network and feel confident selling yourself. You need to know what package you are trying to sell, and you need to be the best at selling that package. You also need to be able to meet people and talk about yourself and what you can offer—not in a cocky or self-absorbed way, but in a confident and assured way. You must have thick skin. You need to take rejection after rejection and be okay with it. You must manage time and money extremely well. You have to look down the road and juggle auditioning, rehearsing, and performing all at the same time.

What kind of job opportunities are there in your field?

If you simply play the game of going to open auditions and waiting for someone to notice how talented you are and give you a job, you have a 16% chance of working. If you network, get an agent, and go to classes, that chance is raised to about 30%. I have done both of those. But I decided to take a third option. I still have an agent, I still go to open auditions, but I also am writing my own stuff and producing it on my own. That way I can always be sure to be a working actor. Plus, work begets more work.

What types of jobs have you had within your profession?

Besides being an actor, I have worked as a director, writer, camera operator, singer, dancer, stunt performer, character performer, choreographer, musical director, coach, presenter, host, model, light operator, extra, principal, featured, and child wrangler. Unless you are famous, you have to be willing to learn and take any job you can and be grateful for it.

What is the best part of your profession?

Creating. . .or getting a role that I can really delve into. I love getting roles that challenge my personal beliefs. For a little while, I get the opportunity to understand someone from a completely different angle. It’s like putting together a giant puzzle, and at the end, you understand a situation or person in a way you never would have before. It doesn’t change my beliefs but it helps me to understand and empathize with people more. With each new challenging role I become less and less judgmental.

What is the worst part of your profession?

The worst part of my job is getting a job. There are times when you are doing five or six gigs all at the same time. Money is flowing, your agents are happy, and you are fulfilled. Then there are years where it’s a job here and there and you are barely scraping by; you go to twenty auditions a week and no one hires you, which can get depressing. But you have to find it in yourself to keep going and not get discouraged.

What’s the work/family/life balance like?

Acting with family life is amazing. When you are in a show, you work about four hours a day, and since it’s at night, you get to be with your kids all day. My husband is also an actor so we get to spend almost all day, every day together with our son.

When I am auditioning full-time or rehearsing, it can get pretty hectic. My husband and I have to arrange to swap our son off to each other in between auditions. For stage, rehearsals can be crazy because it’s eight to twelve hours during the day. Film is a bit easier. A commercial shoot is usually one or two days, all day. The pay is great, too, so if you can get a few of those in a year, you’re pretty set. Film is a bit harder because it takes forever to set up the shots, but the actual filming part is pretty quick. If you can have your own trailer or space, you can bring your family with you on the set. Still, it’s usually only a few days or a few weeks and then you are off.

What is the biggest misconception people have about your job?

The biggest misconception I hear is that you can’t be a faithful member of the Church and be an actor—the two don’t go hand in hand. I admit that it’s difficult, and perhaps not a natural fit, but it can fit. I feel like you just have to be okay with saying no to certain jobs and putting your family first. You have to have a really open and honest relationship with your spouse. You have to be okay without stability. You have to make do with what you have. You have to be able to stand up and proudly declare your religion—and you have to be okay being the odd one of your group. Again, not an easy fit, but when you do fit the two worlds together, it can be beautiful and open up so many doors for you and those around you.

What opportunities have you had because of your education and profession?

As an actor, I have been hired all around the United States. I have seen and lived in places I never would have thought about: West Yellowstone, Orlando, San Diego, New York City, etc. I have met people and shared the gospel with people who never would have listened before. I have  met and worked with people (Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Joanna Gleason, Chris Noth) and talked to them about their careers, why they do this, and what they hope to accomplish in their lives. I have broadened my own understanding of social issues, family issues, and personal trials, as well as empathized with my fellow man.

What stereotypes or criticisms have you faced as an educated Mormon woman with her own career?

Surprisingly, a lot of my criticisms come from fellow Mormon women. For some reason they are the harshest on me and my family for our choices. I get a lot of people who tell me that I am selfish and sacrificing time with my son to further my own desires. I get a lot of critiques for only having one child; I’m told if I would stop caring so much about my looks that I would do what is best for my family and have more children. One year, I worked across the country from my husband while he was finishing his master’s. I got a lot of remarks about abandoning my husband to chase after my silly dream. But I am grateful for these experiences. It has helped me realize what a waste of energy it is to judge others. None of those people who judged me were in my shoes. None of them knew why our family makes the decisions it does. It helped me to understand that we can spend that energy so much more wisely by lifting each other and offering support instead of judging and bringing each other down.

What spiritual guidance have you felt as you have pursued your education and developed your career?

The number one thing I have felt is that God does have a plan. He knows it, and He will guide us through. We just have to trust. That is such a difficult part of my career. There are times of plenty and times of famine. During those times of famine, I have to just keep going, trust the Lord, and come up with as many ideas as I can so that I keep opening doors. I find that if I open 100 doors, usually 99 of them will slam shut and the last one will be open enough that I can pry my fingers in and force it back open. But it has made me tough. I was not a tough person growing up. I was soft, sweet, and a bit weak. I am stronger now, and that’s a great thing. There are tough things that we have to deal with in this world. Being a woman is tough, being a wife is tough, being a mom is tough, and being an actor is tough. Through God’s plan for me, I am becoming a new woman who is able to be kind but tough. I still make mistakes constantly and am always struggling with growing pains, but I am enjoying this role God is preparing me for.

Any other thoughts, advice, or stories you’d like to share with other women? 

Whatever is being required of you, you can do it. We are made in such a unique way. We can go through the most difficult journeys but still be aware enough to see the beauty along the way. We are made to do hard things. We are made to uplift. We are made for joy. We are made to accomplish. We can’t just quit. Nothing great was ever accomplished by quitting—and we are made to be great.

*The photo is of Andrea in her role as Dory in Finding Nemo the Musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

4 Comments on “Career Day: Actor

  1. I love the last paragraph of this post, it’s so inspiring to see how hard work and dedication has paid off for you in a really difficult field.

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. I love this series and you are an inspiration. I really love what you shared about this making us tough but kind. And seeing and experiencing things we wouldn’t otherwise do. Thank you!

  3. I love this post. Thank you for sharing in such an articulate way! You pointed out aspects of your job I’ve never thought about and how beautiful they are. I love the point about acting being a way to tell the truth in someone else’s reality and how that geneates empathy and broadens your mind. I also loved the last paragraph too. Very inspirational, thanks!

  4. wow! I am so impressed with all your interesting comments. ;You sure know what you are doing. We are thrilled with all your efforts and only expect good things of you and Adam. Years ago I didn’t think Adam could find a mate that would be his equal but you came along and proved me totally wrong. We love and think of you three all the time and know things will work out for you. What great missionary work you will be able to do as you continue on in your chosen field. You two are great examples. My love , Grandma Lee

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