Thursday, January 3, 2013

Don't sign a record contract, Anne Hathaway!

Dear Anne Hathaway,

Hey, man, how's it going?

So anyway, I had no idea you could sing.  Turns out not only can you sing, but you can belt and wail.  Your performance in Les Mis√©rables is truly excellent - the highlight of the movie, frankly.  Your rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" is powerful and heartbreaking.  The strength and nuance of the emotions you embodied is amazing - the complete breakdown, regaining composure, all in one take!  All while singing!  It's truly stunning.

But please, stop there.

By now, you've gotten a lot of attention for your Fantine, and there's plenty more to come: more critical attention, more audience adoration, more awards nominations (and wins).  All of it well-deserved.

But amidst all of that attention, someone -- perhaps a trusted friend, perhaps a family member, maybe an agent, a manager, or likely some combination of those -- will float the idea that, hey, maybe you should put out an album!  It's a great idea, they'll tell you.  I mean, you like to sing, don't you?  Of course you do!  And now it's pretty obvious that everyone wants to hear you sing.  This will be the next step in your artistic growth, an exciting new facet of your career, and, heck, a way to get some extra cash.  They'll tell you.

And with so much encouragement, and ever-increasing box office numbers, and awards nominations rolling in, you might find yourself agreeing that this is the right thing to do.  Why not make an album?

Well, I'm going to tell you.

In the very recent past -- let's call it ten years -- there have been a few high profile instances of this phenomenon.  I'm not going to name names, but you know these people.  They're peers of yours.  They have quite a bit in common with you: approximate age, complexion, number of hosting gigs on "Saturday Night Live."  And like you, they were exclusively actors until a particular role called for them to sing.  And sing they did.  And to the surprise and delight of audiences everywhere, they were much better singers than anyone had bothered to expect.

But then they went too far.  They took all the "I didn't know she could sing" feedback as a cue that they should be making more music.  So they signed record deals, went into recording studios, and... it turned out, they shouldn't be singing.  They really, really shouldn't.  Their stuff has proven objectively terrible.  It's more than just embarrassing or unnecessary - it's painful.

Don't let this happen to you!

I believe it was the renowned acting teacher Stella Adler who said about acting, "If you can live without it, you should."  Clearly, this applies to any artistic endeavor.  If you're not in anguish, in a constant state of mental, emotional and, yes, physical pain over your lack of fulfillment in an artistic pursuit, then you're better off not pursuing it.  Only do it because it would be your spiritual death if you didn't do it.

Is that how you feel about singing, Anne Hathaway?

You're at that moment.  They'll be clawing at your door if they aren't already.  You will be tempted.  Before you make a move, search your soul.  Make the right decision.

Your pal who you don't know at all,


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