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A Book Review of “The Actor’s Life” by Jenna Fischer

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Rose is an enthusiastic writer and reader who publishes articles every Thursday. She enjoys all book genres, especially drama and fantasy.

What’s the Big Deal?

Ever since landing her role as Pam Beesly on the NBC sitcom The Office in 2005, Jenna Fischer has been a well-known actress of what some might deem rags-to-riches success. Growing up in small-town St. Louis, Missouri, Fischer moved to Hollywood when she was 22 and has been pursuing her dreams ever since. She’s had roles in many movies and television shows over the course of her career, and has even won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Her book The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide was released in 2017, and is just another notable success she can add to her already enviable list.

“The Actor’s Life” by Jenna Fischer

“The Actor’s Life” by Jenna Fischer

Book Summary

With a foreword by Steve Carell, The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide opens with the chapter “Getting Started,” and covers everything from training to “the big move” to day jobs—with no shortage of Fischer’s own experiences (and photos!) strewn throughout. Chapter Two discusses headshots, getting in the Union, and building a résumé. Inspirational quotes pepper these chapters, and are conveniently placed throughout the entirety of the book.

What about how to find and keep an agent or manager, or the heavy art of auditioning (and even heavier art of accepting rejection)? Chapters three and four cover these topics in depth, offering no shortage of advice and tips on how to make a good impression and persevere through it all. Given that it took eight years for Fischer to finally reach her big break, she seems to know what she’s talking about!

Chapter Five lengthily discusses how things work on a television or film set, with many anecdotes drawn from Fischer’s times in the spotlight. Chapter Six talks about “The Journey”—the incredible life that is being an actor—and offers some last-minute advice (including the incredibly helpful demo on how to deal with being fired!). To close, Jenna includes four exclusive interviews with fellow famous actors and two pages of “Advice From Peers,” so the struggling actor will feel comforted and encouraged on their long, but fruitful, journey to success.

Quick Facts

  • Author: Jenna Fischer
  • Pages: 255
  • Genre: Arts and entertainment, reference
  • Ratings: 3.5/5 Barnes & Noble, 4.1/5 Goodreads
  • Release date: November 2017
  • Publisher: BenBella Books

To Read or Not to Read?

I recommend this book if:

  • You like celebrity books and biographies like Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody or Kristen Chenoweth’s A Little Bit Wicked
  • You’re a fan of Jenna Fischer or the hit TV show The Office
  • You’re an aspiring theater or film actor
  • You like descriptive guides and how-tos on topics you don’t know much about
  • You would enjoy anecdotes from the author’s own experiences on TV and film sets (including The Office)

During all that time in the trenches, I wish I’d had a mentor to give me advice. Someone who could put the whole daunting experience in context, who’d been through the heartache, the tears, the rejection, and made it through the other side. . . If you’re an aspiring actor, I’d like to be that person for you.

— Jenna Fischer, “The Actor’s Life”

Reviews

“What I especially loved about this book is how conversational the tone is. You really feel like you are having a one-on-one conversation with Jenna Fischer, or that you’re getting a front-row seat to the greatest lecture ever on how to become an actor.” —hannahslibrary.com

“First off, this book is hilarious. The pages absolutely flew by as Jenna shared heartfelt insights about both the acting world itself and her personal experiences in it. She is unrelenting in her honesty about the hard times, thoughts about quitting, moments of disillusionment, delusions of self-importance and immediate success, and more. . . She effortlessly threads the needle between memoir, guidebook, and social commentary on the industry.” —sanfranciscobookreview.com

Jenna Fischer, the book’s author

Jenna Fischer, the book’s author

The Takeaway

Jenna Fischer’s wisdom knows no bounds. Merely 46, she writes with an old soul-style intelligence that’s both humorous and helpful at the same time. The Actor’s Life covers everything an aspiring actor might want to know, but whether or not you’re striving to be one doesn’t matter—Fischer’s book is a joy to read no matter the circumstances. Witty, thorough, and entertaining, Jenna’s guide has it all.