Yes, acting is an extremly precarious profession. However, re Tom's comments, I think you have to remember that not all of us enter acting out of ignorance of the risks - a lot of people know the risks all to well and decide to give it a shot despite them. If your friend was studying her way through med school one can only presume that she was a fairly intelligent girl. And that she was well and truly capable of calculating that the average actor's income is pretty minimal. And from that position someone is quite capable of deciding that it is still their preferred profession, or attempted profession. When I stopped working as a full-time lawyer partially so that I could concentrate on my acting, I didn't have any delusions as to the difficulty and precarious income that being an actor involves. I just decided, quite logically given my values and wants from life, that it was my preferred lifestyle. Just because someone is giving up the opportunity to earn a higher monetary income doesn't make their decision illogical - unless of course you think income is the only measuring point of a successful life. Artists throughout history have chosen their art ahead of more 'sensible' career options and society has been the richer for it - there is nothing new or hollywood-dreamish about the simple choice to pursue a financially scary but emotionally satisfying road less travelled.
Now is a 14 yr old capable of making that decision? No, she probably isn't. I don't think anyone on this board would say to her to drop her studies or to forget about planning a fall-back career. But at the same time that is no reason not to put time and effort into pursuing her dream, so that when she is older and more experienced the door is open for her to give professional acting a shot if at that age it is still what she wants to do.
On the other hand, I do think that it is worthwhile when someone says they want to be an actor, to remind them that the actual job of being an actor is not that of being a hollywood star - someone quitting their dayjob in the hope of become a 'name' actor is the equivalent of someone becoming a lawyer because they really want to be the Chief Justice of the High Court. You have to realise that the job for most actors is a long procession of bit-parts here and there, crappy ads and occassionally something better, whilst working other jobs on the side and constructing more interesting share-of-profits projects. That WILL put a lot of people off acting, once they realise that it isn't a lotto ticket and they start to question whether acting is something they really like in itself. But I am yet to meet an actor who has made a serious commitment to acting under any such delusion of grandeur - the fact is some people actually LIKE the job of minor theatre projects and occassional acting gigs whilst working other jobs to keep the rent ticking over. And more power to them.
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