Many people believe that Hollywood success stories come in two forms. One, when an actor lands a role of a lifetime with their debut and finds overnight success. The second being when an actor goes through a struggle period and finds breakthrough success much later in their career. But there is also a third form. In this an actor does not become either an overnight or a later sensation but instead, finds a happy medium between stability and success, albeit without superstardom. These individuals have enviable careers as working actors; those who make a living in the business. According to Amy Rutberg:
“I’m the opposite of an overnight success. I’ve been auditioning, since I was 17 years old, so that’s just kind of the way of life for me. I’ve always made a living as an actor. I mean I had a couple of years where I was doing some other interesting things, like playing a lot of poker, but for the most part, I’ve always made a living as an actor.”
In an industry which often declares an actor is only as good as “your last movie, or TV show”, finding constancy can be very difficult. This may explains why many actors succumb to the professional upheavals, good or bad, in their careers.
However, Rutberg has been able to find that constancy. Maybe that is why she’s still so passionate about acting after being in this industry for close to 20 years. She feels she is presently in the best phase of her career.
“Early on, I was doing theater and then I was doing Broadway and national tours. Then for a lot of years I was just doing a ton of commercials. I did like 70 national commercials. When I turned 30 is when my TV career started and that’s been absolutely my favorite part and that’s where I want to remain.”
Rutberg’s expansive resume documents the wide range of roles she’s taken on. She’s been part of hit TV shows such as “The Good Wife”, “Law and Order”, “NCIS: New Orleans” and the Netflix hit shows “Daredevil” and “The Defenders”. Her film appearances include “Sucker Punch” and “Rebel in the Rye” but her preference lies with the small screen.
“I just want to tell good stories and portray interesting characters. Right now is the golden age of television. Like that’s where everybody is going. There is so much TV production in all the different mediums. Films are fewer and far between. The kind of roles that I could play in “Blindspot” and ‘Daredevil”, I can’t really play those parts in films because those parts are going to someone like Amy Adams. I love television. If I only did television for the rest of my life, I would be perfectly happy.”
The broad variety of both movie and TV roles Rutberg has to her credit feeds her eagerness to pursue further opportunities. Although auditioning brings with it a lot of uncertainty, Rutberg is always eager to audition. She feels it is important to fully embrace the auditioning process, although at times it can be very stressful. While endless rejection and auditioning is a deterrent for some actors, for her, this is the very thing that keeps her motivated.
“Every time I go in for an audition, I look at it as an opportunity to play and to tell a story and then it’s out of my hands because I can’t control whether they cast me or not. I can’t control if I’m the right look or if I’m the right age. Or whether the director has a friend that he used last year that he wants to work with again. There are many factors that go into getting a part. 99 percent of the time, it doesn’t go to the best person for the job. It’s totally subjective.”
Rutberg remains steadfast in her devotion to her craft. She attributes her success to her continuing “slow uphill climb.”
“It’s not like I booked some big job when I was 18 and became famous and everyone knew me, and then I didn’t get a job for five or six years and went crazy because of it. For me, it has been a steady climb. And that keeps you grounded. I’ve had years where I’ve been so busy and worked a ton and then I’ve had years where I’ve gone three or four months
without a job.”
She feels that steady climb is probably the ideal way to build your career and to be able continue to love your job. Unpredictable professional upheavals are the things that can burn one out quickly.
“I’ve worked with actors who have had success early on, a lot of success and then nothing ever really lived up to that and they’re a little bitter. I’ve also experienced working with actors who’ve been on TV for 10 to 12 years and still find the work interesting. And then some who just can’t wait to get home and see their family and could not care less about the work because the acting part of it has just becomes job. I can’t imagine that the acting part of it would ever just become a job because I always feel so lucky to be doing it.”
While Rutberg’s job affords her many incredible opportunities, whether she is playing various characters, traveling the world, or earning a living while doing her dream job, she isn’t oblivious to the dark side of the industry of which she is a part. Late last year, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and a slew of other Hollywood heavy weights were accused of years of alleged sexual assault by several women within the industry. These events have had a domino effect and given courage to women in other sectors and industries to speak up against their perpetrators and gave rise to paradigm-shifting movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. Because of them, Rutberg is
positive about the future.
“I have been in the business for a long time and I have seen all sorts of crazy stuff. I think it’s wonderful that women are coming forward, feeling comfortable, and finding the strength to tell their stories. While not every story is the same or is on the same scale as others, this is a conversation and a movement that really is way overdue. So, I stand by all the women coming out and telling their stories and I think this is going to bring some much-needed change; not just in the entertainment industry but everywhere overall.”