A woman sitting with a dog and a large hat.
Soak Test

Carol Kane Discusses Courage and the Times She's Been Told to Quit

A woman sitting with a dog.
Actor Carol Kane.

Photography by Carol Kane.

What does endurance mean in your career?

It involves a lot of courage. Specifically, the type that involves your self, your product, as it were. Frequently you are not chosen, and that is difficult. But if you can keep going—if you can stick around until the next thing presents itself—perhaps then you will be.

Have you ever been told to quit?

Oh, my god, yes! When I was 13 and going to the Professional Children’s School in New York, I was sent to an ear, nose, and throat doctor because I was having trouble with my voice. The doctor told my mother that under no circumstances should I ever be allowed to go on the professional stage because I would never be able to be heard. At that age I felt like I couldn’t possibly quit. It wasn’t a decision. It was a drive and a love and a dream. It was a need. That’s what you need to be an actor because it’s brutal. You shouldn’t do it unless you need to do it.

What gets easier over time?

The ability to let go. I was a rabid perfectionist when I was younger. It had a hold on me that just wasn’t tenable. The older I get, the more l [realize] that I don’t have to be so particular. “God is in the details.” Is that what they say? If a detail is not exactly how I wish, I’m able to let it go. It makes a huge difference in the day-to-day process. Maybe a genius is a solo player who would never settle for anything but perfect, but if you are in a collaborative field, it’s too punishing.