I keep coming back to this, no matter how busy or not busy I am, no matter how widely I may circle around it.
As an actor, it’s so easy to get into a lazy habit of waiting for somebody else to tell you what to do and when to do it. Especially during a busy time auditioning or working on set. There are teams of people herding you around and telling you what your next move is. They are paid to do it and I am happy to abdicate responsibility for planning my day, as I have become accustomed to it, starting with letting my agent do the thinking for me.
The problem with that is, when it stops, you can feel a little lost. Having given away my power to external forces many times, I can attest to the empty feeling when the phone doesn’t ring, my agent doesn’t want to talk to me, and the AD is not looking for me! It may be a week of no auditions, a year of no work, or even an empty afternoon after a job has wrapped, but this time will come. Maybe you haven’t even worked yet and are wondering if you have what it takes.
Part of this puzzle of down time and the ensuing depression is the question of self worth. Who am I when nobody wants me? Ew! I wrote it in a blog! Will I regret this moment of honesty? No, because I coach actors, and I know when someone is going through this. I can see it on their faces. I can hear it in their voices, and I can feel it in their energy. I know what it is because every human on the planet experiences some form of it, not just actors and not just me when I’m not working. Many people are adept at covering and faking (Um, INSTAGRAM) but that won’t solve the inner feeling of a bottomless pit of despair.
It’s an inside job.
No amount of fortune and fame will fill it. In fact, you may OD on fame long before it gives you any satisfaction. Like heroin, it provides a quick hit of feel-good, then leaves you wanting more, and too much is never enough.
That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy success and money and people telling you that you are amazing, it just means don’t count on it for happiness because it comes and goes, like everything external. Like the weather.
Generate your own weather!
When you feel restless irritable and discontent, and that phone isn’t ringing, instead of checking Instagram (which I guarantee will make it worse), get curious about You. Spend some time with yourself and get to know what you want, who you are, what you need and what you’d like to contribute to this collective consciousness we call CULTURE.
I’ll tell you the secret to real success that lasts, that makes you feel good, and that serves your fellow humans: If you want to work on your art, work on your life.
Here are TEN EASY TIPS, because I know people love those and let’s keep it simple cause I want you to feel better, I want you to be EMPOWERED from within so you can go out in the world and succeed or fail and still feel good and be fun to hang out with. These are culled from 35 years of experience in the business of being on camera and sometimes behind it, as a performer and coach of performers. This is how to sustain a career.
1 Most important: Take Care of Yourself. Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, Spiritually. This is a full time job. Give yourself one from each category every day. MEDITATE, READ, WRITE, EXERCISE, HEAL, GROW.
2 Study. Train. Never stop learning. Acting dance music languages whatever interests you, keep stretching.
3 Inspire Yourself. Go see plays. Go to art galleries. Make a list of artists you admire and watch their work. expand this list.
4 Be Healthy. You are your own business so if you are addicted, get help. If you are sick, research health. There are so many resources I could make a whole website just for links. Check out Healing The Broken Brain on Youtube for a start; and there is a 12 step program for just about everything.
5 Create. This takes a little initiative but once you get past the first 5 minutes it’s easy. Pick something you like to do, don’t worry or even think about the results, and play like a kid. Remember why you wanted to be an actor to begin with.
6 Make Lists. Make Big Plans. After your morning self care routine of (strongly suggested) meditation and exercise, from an uplifted and inspired place, make lists of what you want and break those down to do-able actions. That’s how to get stuff done.
7 Dream. Go into your mind palace on a long walk in nature (or central park) and imagine your life how you want it to be. You are making the blueprint. Make sure it all feels good.
8 Feel Good. Nothing is more important than that you feel good. If you feel bad, that means you must make an adjustment. That is your built in guidance system telling you to do or think something different. You don’t have to fix the world, just adjust yourself.
9 Help Somebody. Lots of people need help. Go do some selfless service for instant perspective, gratitude and feeling of worth. You may get inspired to do it full-time for a while. I did. Your acting career will be there and you and the world will be better for it.
10 Show Up For People. Participate in life. You can call it networking, but I prefer to do it without an ulterior motive, trusting that what is mine will come to me if I show up for myself and others with an attitude of gratitude and contribution.
If you do these things, you can show up at auditions full of self worth and love and a desire to be of service, knowing that you are a whole human being who deserves to be there and has lots to give. Casting will be happy to see you.
If you do these things, you may wind up being the one doing the hiring for the film you wrote.
You don’t have to do anything perfectly, but the next time you want to beat yourself up for being a failure, try something from this list instead.
We are all in this together, and everything you are contributes to the whole. You are creating your life and the lives of all of us with every thought you think, so for all our sakes, I send you tons of love and wish you all the happiness you can hold!
Now go be a Shining Star.