Stop Waiting for Your Career
Take your future back into your own hands
There can be a lot of waiting in the acting industry. How many of you have heard the lamenting of a fellow actor about their agent not getting them to enough auditions? Or you go to an audition, then you wait for a few painstaking days to hear whether you got a callback.
Or how about when you ask your agent what you can be doing to get in the room and they say, “Keep going to class.” Does this frustrate anyone else?
This can leave actors feeling helpless, hopeless and lost.
But there are things that they can be doing in the interim; things to keep it exciting, to keep their creativity flowing and to make sure that they are on their game. This is a golden opportunity to, instead of complaining about it, use it to their advantage.
Read on, actors, for a few things you can do instead of waiting for someone else to make moves.
1. Change Something
Even though the life of an actor can be all over the place, whether it’s non-traditional work hours or running to auditions last minute, we are all creatures of habit. It could be as simple as the coffee shop you go to in the morning, or the spot on the couch you go to watch a few episodes of The Office at night; we fall into little routines, and sometimes they can be causing stagnant energy, whether we know it or not.
The shift is this: do things differently for 24 hours. Make different choices for 24 hours, and then see how you feel at the end of that period. It can be as simple as walking a different route to yoga class, or going to a different teacher; wearing colours you wouldn’t normally or cooking something you wouldn’t normally cook. You may learn something, you may miss something, you may not feel much different. It’s all information, and that fact is, it is getting you out of the same energy you’ve been living in. This breeds new energy in your life, so old patterns like, “I never get a call back” or “I’m always waiting on my agent” will start to shift, too.
I refrain from using the term meditate, because I know for me, the idea of meditation always felt intimidating. My partner commented a while back on how he liked that I always invited him to “sit and breath” instead of meditate. The fact is, meditation takes many forms, and not all of them require you to sit on a mountain top for several weeks in silence. Taking a few minutes a day to focus on your breath is paramount for actors.
There are so many options. I like to use the Insight Timer app, which can work as a timer if you want to sit in silence but there are also endless guided meditations and music of varying lengths, from three minutes to hours.
Walking meditation exists. I learned this when I spent a few days on Denman Island last winter in a silent meditation retreat and thought I was going to go stir crazy. Instead, I walked outside, focusing on each step, on my breath, on what I felt on my skin, on what the ground felt like, on what I could hear. Find something that works for you and make it a daily practice (and if you miss a day, don’t chastise yourself. Congratulate yourself on the awareness of it.)
3. Get Back-Up
One of the biggest motivators, especially for creatives, is a community of like-minded people. I can’t stress this enough. Whether it’s joining a writing group (or creating one!), getting together with a couple of other actors to practice monologues or work scenes on a regular basis, or going to a weekly dance class, creating a community that is driven like you will take you far.
I had a client who was feeling disconnected with the community because of moving out of the city, so I recommended that she set up a weekly video call with another fellow actor and friend, where they could discuss what was going on in their careers, but also read scripts together. There are many events and groups in any city or town, but whatever it is, stay connected. These are the people you can go to when you need a reader, when you need a second set of eyes on a script, who will be there if you need an extra pair of hands on set. They are your champions and you are theirs.
4. Create Your Space
Yes, the world is now obsessed with Marie Kondo and for good reason. Creating a space that feels good to you is incredibly important to creating a life that feels good. This doesn’t have to mean going full KonMari, but instead of complaining about not having enough work, take some time to create a space that is conducive to creativity. What can you clear out of your space that takes up literal space or energetic space? What is sitting in your apartment that is stagnant, or just there because of habit? And how could you use that space in a new way?
Creating a place to write, to meditate, to paint or to move your body will begin to change how you interact with your home. Maybe you want to put up new art work, or just get rid of some that doesn’t spark much feeling, whatever it is, make your space feel good to your creative self and then allow creativity to flow.
5. Act More
Keep fresh by searching out smaller projects where you can stay in the energy of being on set or working with other actors in some capacity. But be cautious of what you take on and where you are in your career. For someone starting out, it’s a great idea to get on as many sets as you can, to learn, to meet people and to practice. But just make sure whatever you do, you are serving yourself and not draining yourself. It’s easy to get into the practice of saying yes to everything (something this job breeds) but there comes a point where saying no will serve you better.
6. Don’t Act
Alternatively, but just as potent, can be to do something else creative. When our creative passion becomes a job, it becomes an act of balance to not lose the spark, but keep things moving like a business. Taking on another creative endeavour is extremely important, because it takes some weight off of acting.
Take a dance class, buy some art supplies and go wild, write poetry or that short script idea you’ve been dreaming up; whatever it is, put some energy there. It can feel scary because we are taught to put our all into acting, to work hard and hustle in order to get work. But what’s missing from this, is the creative spark, and if that is not lit, it’s all for naught. Explore what creative endeavours cause a spark of excitement for you and follow that for a while. You might be surprised how this can invigorate your acting life.