Actor fights ‘starving artist’ image

Not too long ago, Meghan Hoople dropped out of Sheridan College in Barrie.

Then 18, she moved to Toronto to pursue her life-long dream to become an actress. She soon discovered that the road to success can be costly, especially when agencies tried to take advantage of her.

“My first agent told me my head shots didn’t look professional and immediately passed me to a photographer who works for him; $900 later, I was broke and I never even got the photos,” she said.

The term “starving artist” is often used to describe actors who are broke, desperate and starving in Hollywood. Clearly, the syndrome had overtaken Hoople. And in Toronto, not L.A.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, however, Hoople quickly found another agent and even landed a few commercials. She also began producing her own cabaret shows at “The Bread And Circus” (a well known venue for independent artists). Last summer, she managed to impress several directors at an actors workshop.

“At first, the workshop felt like another cash grab,” she said. “It cost $500 and there were over 100 actors, so it’s pretty tough to get noticed.”

Hoople had only five minutes to perform a scene and impress.

“There is only so much you can do in five minutes, so I waited around after everybody left and talked to a few directors on a personal level,” she said. “They were very impressed and shortly after I got a few more calls for auditions.”

According to Hoople, it’s not easy staying focused or positive, so it’s important to keep a circle of encouraging friends who understand the industry. But in an industry where so few people actually make it, the competition can go beyond friendly.

“We all want the same thing: to work as actors and make a decent living,” she said. “While some people are truly happy for me, when I land a role, others can get very jealous.”

Hoople said that it’s very easy to get depressed when things aren’t working out.

“Luckily for me my parents and friends are very supportive. But I have friends who have to deal with people telling them it’s not going to work out,” she said. “For a starving actor, those words can be gut-wrenching.”

Hoople’s agent, Colin Mcmurray, understands the difficulties an artist can face especially when moving to a new city. The first thing he looks for when hiring a new client is the state of her ego and sense of realism.

“The ones who come into my office telling me they will be a Hollywood star never make it. The ones who love acting and got into the business to act, have a much greater chance of success,” he said.

Mcmurray said actors who start their careers early have a tough time developing their skills because they don’t go through the classes, the short films and the non-paying films, in order to develop their skill.

“Acting is a skill and you have to work at it. Most people don’t get that,” he said.

Mcmurray said Hoople has a variety of talents and realistic goals, which is why he hired her in the first place.

“Meghan doesn’t want to be the next Angelina and understands the limits of her abilities at the moment,” he said. “At the same time, she is dedicated and truly believes she can make it, whether it’s theatre, film or commercials.”