How to overcome mental setbacks on the road to stardom as an actor

Authenticme By Authenticme, 5th Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Freelancing

Here are some tips on how to cope with mental setbacks on the road to becoming an actor - and how to stay focused in a tough industry

If you want an acting career, keep going

I thought I would share my thoughts on how to overcome certain mental setbacks when starting out in the acting industry. For those readers who are very proactive and surge forward, unhindered, no doubt you have your own strategies to keep up your momentum. For those who are just starting out, or have recently left drama school, I hope this article gives you a burst of motivation:

1) '' I'll do it tomorrow''
Procrastination can be a major stumbling block in life, in everything we do. If you make a list of everything you're putting off doing, acting-wise or not, it can be sizeable. The key is to be a self starter, and to shake off those years of having had someone over your shoulder giving you task deadlines - teacher, parent, boss. As an actor you are your own boss, leader, and as an adult you need to become your own parent in a sense. Or at least the CEO of your own life!

2) ''I feel so down about this whole acting thing, I don't know if it's for me'
Feelings aren't facts. I heard recently that many actors go into the industry to make up for a lack of attention as a child. Hmmm.. contraversial, but that probably holds a grain of truth. The fact about acting is there's very rarely anyone handing out gold stars or pats on the back. If anything it's the opposite - think Goldie Hawn during army training in Private Ryan. You are developing, amongst other skills, discipline, mental, physical and emotional stamina and the ability to be proactive. If you're just starting out, at least give it a real try before giving up

3) ''I'm not thin enough/ pretty/ good looking enough - have you SEEN my thighs?, etc''
You don't have to be Barbie or Ken doll perfect to be an actor. Acting is supposed to represent real life, and if anything it's more about looking 'real' these days. As long as you keep on top of your grooming, and look after yourself there's no reason you shouldn't be pursuing work. The goal ideally is to look your best, so work towards that, but don't let the 'I can't do that TIL' excuse stand in your way. We all know the areas we need to work on, and what we need to sacrifice to improve our appearance - our 'product'. No, that cupcake is NOT worth it! (is one ever enough anyway?)

4) 'There's no stability in acting'
Well, that's very true - but if every actor said that, we would have no tv, film or theatre entertainment. How boring! Your purpose in life is to enjoy it, and you can't make others happy unless you are happy yourself. Pursue acting until you know it's definitely not for you, if not, and if you are still hankering after your next part, then it IS for you.

5) 'But what about my rent/ mortgage'
Yes, there is the matter of bills to be paid, and keeping a roof over your head. But the goal is paid, quality acting work - and quality promotional materials to gain said work. If you are in the industry to pursue a certain standard of work, this will trickle down to all areas of your life. There is no reason you can't make a healthy living alongside acting - it is all income, just limit or restrict your unpaid ventures, and keep aiming high. You are a quality person (and product), expect the best, and work with people on the same page.

6) ' What about when there's no work?'
A watched pot never boils. Acting is doing, so you need to stay active and create your own work if necessary. Actors are creative, and usually very resourceful - team up with other like minded actors and create your own projects. Also approach industry professionals yourself and network - find out the best way to do this, of course - don't poke them on facebook for example

7) ' I can't afford good headshots or a good showreel''
Your marketing products do need to be good quality. Shop around for the best deals, then for heaven's sake save. The saying 'you don't get rich from what you earn, but from what you save' comes to mind. You don't need a £3 starbucks latte every day, not really. Not all headshots or reels cost an arm and a leg, a little research goes a long way.

8) 'The competition is too strong'
Yes there's competition, but that's part of the industry. Why shouldn't other people pursue what you want to do? - acting is a fun, rewarding profession - and can be very lucrative. Of course there are other contenders for one role, but the best person will get it - and if you're persistent, one day that person will be you. Competition can also keep you on top of your game - there will always be those who are better (and weaker) than you, in all areas of life.

9) ' I don't have an agent'
Well, are you trying to get one? If your agent isn't, quite literally, working for you, consider changing. Communication with your agent is key, but if you aren't getting auditions, maybe it's time to accept it's not working and move on. If you don't yet have an agent, do all you can to get one - and a quality one. If you're not going all out, in anything, you can't say you really want it.

10) 'The industry seems very shallow'
Well it is a lot about how you look, but don't let that be an excuse. Those who are working in the industry have earned it. There is after all no substitute for hard work, and if you're just a pretty face, eventually that will show. Life is pretty shallow these days, it's just the way it is.

11) ' It takes ages to apply to jobs and is all so time consuming'
That's when your agent should come into it, otherwise why have one? Put your focus on finding a good agent, who will negotiate pay for you. A lot of work you can be applying for on your own is unpaid, which isn't really what to focus on unless it will strongly benefit you

12) ' I don't feel ready'
If you're trained, you showed up to class and paid attention, and worked hard, then you're ready. It's called a leap of faith, and if you think about anything you've achieved in the past, it was probably slightly out of your comfort zone. Janet Leigh famously went on set to film a scene just after she was abandoned by her husband for another, younger woman. Talk about heartache! You just need to go for it however you feel, get back on the horse as they say.

13) ' But maybe I should do an office job and then I'll be set for the future'
No job is for life these days, there's nothing to say you can't take a sideline job in office work, or even fit auditions or productions around a full time office job. But if your desire is to be an actor, keep that as your focus and allow all other paid work to serve that. Keep your eye on the prize.


Acting, Dealing With Setbacks, Self Motivation, Show Business

Meet the author

author avatar Authenticme
I'm an actor, musician, teacher and life coach. I will be publishing articles related to those topics, as well as common interest topics

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