How to #Survive being an #Actor

I love when people act like acting isn’t a job. I love when they act that I just do nothing all day. But acting is a hard job. It’s long hours sometimes in the cold where until you become a “name”, you are virtually invisible and get no recognition. It’s easy to get caught up in all the “bullshit” that Hollywood creates in the allure of being famous and it’s just as easy to completely lose your mind. Still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Here are a few of my rules.

1. Form two support circles. One circle of friends should not be actors. This is simply because you can’t talk about work 24/7. Sometimes, it’s so nice to sit back and relax without talking about who was cast in what and what director was a nightmare. Especially since I know some actors who aren’t happy for their friends when they get cast into things. “So and so got this part in this. I can’t believe they cast her. She’s not even that good.” Ignore that bullshit. But when you hang out with non-actors, you get to catch up and talk about all different kinds of lives and careers. The second circle should be actors. Partials just because your other friends don’t quite understand. When I get a text on a Friday night asking to hang out and all I can say back is, “Can’t! Have an over night shoot. But have fun.” My non-actor friends respond, “Why are you always on set? Come hang out. Oh well, brunch tomorrow?” My actor friends, however, say “I feel ya girl. Sleep in forever tomorrow!” It’s also sometimes nice to have a sounding board, “So, I have these two parts but which one should I commit to?” The most important thing of each support group is the keep you grounded and help you lift your head out of a cycle of set, audition, meeting, readings, set, shoot, call time, etc.

2. Ignore criticism & Be happy for people.  Jealous has a lot to do with criticism. People are bound to talk behind your back as I mentioned in number 1. Always focus on yourself rather than what others are saying. Ignore if someone says you don’t deserve something because you worked for what you have and if you didn’t work for it, well, whatever, someone thought you were perfect for it so you got it. ALWAYS BE HAPPY FOR OTHERS. My friends are always getting parts that I wish I could have gotten but who cares? My opportunities come when they are right for me. You really just have to have faith that things will work out for you in the way that they were meant to. Criticizing others doesn’t get you that part. It just creates a lot of icky feelings and makes you a not very nice person. Do I sometimes feel jealous? Sure. I wish I could have gotten that part or audition but I didn’t and they deserve it just as much as you do. Everything comes at it’s own time.

3. Know it comes in phases. Some weeks are so busy that I am running from place to place trying to catch my breath so my head could stop spinning for a minute. I had one week where I had 3 auditions a day for 5 days in a row. Then I could not be called in for anything for 3 weeks. Am I a failure those weeks? NO! Sometimes work is just slow. There are times where I will check Backstage casting and see one new thing in 4 days. Yeah, it does suck but that’s when I just try to focus on my own separate projects and creating my own work.

4. Take the work seriously. I hate when I see actors show up 40 minutes late to call time after a text that said, “Not feeling great. Be a little late.” First things first, 40 minutes is not a little late. Second, if you do that, I don’t want to hear you in the make-up chair talking about how crazy last night was and that you got so wasted that you are now incredibly hungover. It’s unprofessional and it’s rude. Work should come first. If you have an event to go to, fine, but have a drink and make it an early night. Also, only skip auditions if you are sick or have an actual family emergency. Study your lines and memorize them. Do your job. Yes, we all have flubs and forget things but make sure you put in the work too.

5. Don’t take anything else to seriously. Don’t worry about your image 24/7. Hollywood may have stereotypes or archetypes but that doesn’t mean you have to fit into them. Be yourself and enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about having to be anything other than what you care. Okay, so you didn’t get called back. But maybe it’s not because “you’re a failure and the world’s worst actress.” Maybe it’s because they really decided they wanted a blonde or someone shorter or someone with smaller boobs. Sometimes not being cast isn’t a comment on your acting but on just not being “right” for the part. There are a billion reasons but don’t think you have to run out and hire the most expensive coach, get a nose job, and only live on kale in order to succeed.

6. Know your definition of success. I tell my friends this all the day. If your dream is to be an actor then that pretty much just means being able to work. If your dream is being famous then find a new career because there are a hell of a lot easier ways to become famous than being an actor. For me, acting is just something I have to do. I don’t care what shitty job I have to take in order to be able to support the job of acting but I’d take it.  I just want to work as an actor. If I end up in a position where I am making millions a movie and am known worldwide then, that’s great but it’s not the goal. So often my  parents wonder why I am doing this and when does fame come? But I’d act for free, in fact, I do it a lot so it’s not about fame. It’s about the art and the journey, not the dollars or the fancy things. My success is just being able to do projects that I love, whether it’s independents, shorts, theater, musical theater, or a feature length. Everything else is just a bonus.

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