Photographed by Jason Kaufman in 2018
"David is not some guru teaching something he hasn’t directly experienced himself. If you’re serious about learning about the reality of working in this business, listen closely to David... READ THIS BOOK!"
Director Professional Program in Acting for the Camera,
UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
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Notes from David
A few months ago, I was walking down the street in New York when a young man unexpectedly approached and began showering me with some extremely generous compliments on my acting. I was deeply touched by his enthusiasm, and for a moment felt as though I were receiving some sort of odd lifetime-achievement award right there on the sidewalk. Already a little late for an appointment, I thanked him for his kindness, but before I could step away, he squinted, cocked his head, and asked, “So, what exactly have I seen you in?”
Over the past 35 years, a surprising number of very sweet people have taken the time to say nice things to me about my work. This has always been surprising given how modest my accomplishments have been. Occasionally younger actors have actually said, “Wow, I’d give anything to have your career” and I’ve wanted to reply, “No, actually you wouldn’t.” Since I began teaching acting few years ago, I always felt a bit stumped when graduating students have asked me the seemingly simple question: “Okay…How exactly do I do this?”
These experiences (and many more) have led me to writing my first book, WORKING ACTOR (Ten Speed Press/Random House). I did it because I wanted to be helpful, but also because I wanted to be honest; honest about what to expect, how to prepare for the coming roller coaster ride, how to compete, how to recognize and appreciate what you have, and be how to stay hopeful about what might yet happen. I started by simply scribbling down a few stories about my experiences as a young artist, then as a successful artist, then as a mature artist. Some of the stories were about victories. Some were about disappointments. And some about painful mistakes (professional and personal) that I either experienced or witnessed.
Soon, the book began to take shape as a collection of “lessons learned.” And I’ve tried to share those lessons in the funniest, most truthful way I know how, while also cramming in as much practical information as possible. To widen the frame a bit, I reached out to some of my most accomplished, diverse and talented colleagues (ranging in age from 19 to 83) and asked them to answer a few questions like “What’s the best/worst thing about show business?” Their hilarious, poignant, angry and wise responses are peppered throughout the pages of WORKING ACTOR. I can’t express how grateful I am for their contributions, just as I’m grateful to Ten Speed Press (Random House) for being my publisher.
And speaking of gratitude, I’d be deeply appreciative for any help you can give me spreading the word about this book. If you’d care to write an online review, or just share some concise thoughts about it with your friends and followers on social media, that would be great! The media hashtags for the book are:
It can be purchased (in all formats) via Amazon.com, PenguinRandomHouse.com, and will be on shelves as of February 19, 2019. Please note: the book is not exclusively intended for novice actors. It’s also aimed at established or late-blooming artists who are faced with self-reinvention or reentry into a much-changed industry.
If you are in the media, the PR reps for the book are: Eleanor Thatcher Eleanor.Thacher@tenspeed.com and Andrew Freedman firstname.lastname@example.org. Either will be happy to set up an interview with me or provide you with more promotional material, should you need it. Thanks very much for your interest and support. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading “Working Actor!”
Break a leg out there!
David Dean Bottrell
Performing in Athol Fugard's "Master Harold...and the Boys"... I thought I knew a little something about acting until I found myself sharing the stage for 90 intense, heart-breaking minutes with Basil Wallace and Stephen McKinley Henderson; both incredible artists (and both kind, generous men to boot). I learned A LOT and made two life-long friends in the process. Forever grateful for this experience.