Removing Yourself From Uncomfortable Situations
I am all for going out of your comfort zone, in fact I challenge you to go out of your comfort zone on a daily basis, because it will help you grow as both a human and artist. We will definitely explore the subject of “going out of your comfort zone” in a future post …
But today let’s talk about UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATIONS… And when it’s time to walk away
There have been times in my career where I have lost confidence because I found myself in uncomfortable environments. A time or two it was clear that I was in a straight up dangerous situation and I hustled to the door as quickly as I arrived. I was lucky in that all turned out well soon after. But if I hadn't walked away immediately, I could have been emotionally and physically hurt.
This industry is full of hopeful artists trying to pursue their dreams, and sometimes not so nice people will take advantage of our starry-eyed aspirations—taking our money and not fully delivering.
When should you get out of a situation that is makes you feel uncomfortable?
1.) If you feel like you will be risking your mental, physical or spiritual well-being by taking part in a project or experience.
In my career I have had the awkwardness of:
2.) When the leadership uses fear-based motivation versus empowering inspiration and collaboration.
Does the leadership inspire you OR make you fearful?
Keep in mind that there are many paths to success in our industry. If a certain coach, company, director, actor or writer, is making you feel uncomfortable--- end the relationship. Walking away is not a career-ending decision. You WILL find others who are the right fit for you AND who treat you with respect.
I don’t know about you, but I am interested in working with inclusive not exclusive folks who share a similar mindset of inclusiveness and love. I want to be creating inspiring art that challenges and has the power to change humanity for good!
If the method of communication is fear-based, how is that in line with the work I want to create? We already have enough work to do in this business to keep our mindsets in check---- SO when given a choice, I choose inspiration over fear.
What kind of work to you want to create? When looking at a next project or even current projects, are they in line with your goals?
This topic and some of these examples may trigger questions and fears. I’d love to address your specific questions below. We are each at a unique place in our performing career and if my examples are not quite in line with where you currently are, I’d love to discuss your specific journey and current challenges.
I will be exploring this subject further on Facebook Live, Wednesday, March 1st at 3pm EST/Noon PST. Please join me with your questions or comments then and check back for a link to the video.
Welcome back for Part 3 of the 3-part blog series: “Really Truly Make Your Performance Dreams a Reality”
If you missed Part 1 & 2 please check them out here FIRST!
Now is also a good time to
You will want to reference it as a companion to this 3-part blog series.
So in Part 1 we discussed the importance of Work Ethic. Part 2 was all about Discipline. Part 3 is all about establishing and maintaining a Healthy Mindset.
So if you’ve been acting for a little or a long while you have most likely faced some setbacks, some large… some small.
A mentor once told me “Any talented actor who stays in the business long enough will eventually ‘make it’ [as a working actor].” I believe this to be true. Of course it depends on how hard you are pushing yourself, how you build your reputation and how you are pursuing goals.
The harsh reality is … most people quit before they reach success.
Think about it…
Have you been through an actor training program? A conservatory program? How many of the other actors you trained with are still pursuing their acting career? My guess is that in the years since that program, several have given up on their performance dream-- having found other passions, desired the need for stability (not typically easy to find as an actor) and found other work, or any multitude of reasons…
I believe what often separates those who stay in the acting biz vs. those who leave it is their mindset.
What is a healthy mindset?
I like to think of a healthy mindset as having the ability to put things in perspective. You allow yourself to feel the feelings you need to, analyze those feelings as necessary and then call on inspiration to move you back into action.
Feel those feelings…
Some label not booking a role as “rejection”. I don’t know about you, but that label does NOTHING for my mindset. If I did think of it as “rejection”, I’m sure it would have a negative impact on my mindset. And let’s face it, if I use the word “rejection”, I’ve got to be honest, I am “rejected” post-audition way more times than I am “accepted”. Those words don’t work for me. They instill FEAR. They’re just not that helpful?
I prefer to think of those let downs as par for the course. Unfortunately you are probably not going to book every audition. That doesn’t mean you are a failure. Set up some structure for your self to release any negative feelings about the situation, process as needed and move on. I figure that given the odds, the more auditions I go on, the more opportunity I have to book, so after one audition, I often move on to prepping for the next.
Analyze those feelings…
Did I do everything in my power to give the best possible audition/submission I could?
Then I’ve done everything in my control, and the specifics that led to me not getting the part are OUT OF MY CONTROL. It is SO not worth it to sulk for too long. However, you are allowed to feel what you need to feel (but do NOT go there for more than 72 hours)
Then what specifically could have been better? What are 2-3 steps I can take/remember before and during next audition/submission?
Call on inspiration to get you back in action
Oh, I could talk about mindset for pages and pages (and will in future posts) but I just want to introduce the concept right now, and let you know that you are in CONTROL of your mindset. I’m not in any way say it is easy to develop & maintain a healthy mindset, but I want to you to begin to have an awareness of it.
Now’s a good time to refer to the final page in your REALLY, TRULY Action Packet, and begin creating a clear vision of where you’re going in your career, so that when you find your mindset slipping down a negative path, you can re-focus on what is most important to you.
Also, watching & listening to inspiring stories (whether podcasts, interviews or live performances) nurture my mindset.
In the coming months, I look forward to sharing with you dozens of guest expert interviews which I hope will educate and inspire you to keep reaching for your dream.
Build your work ethic, keep your discipline in check and feed your mindset with inspiration.
Please share in the comments one success or challenge you’ve had when it comes to maintaining a healthy mindset.
Welcome back for Part 2 of “Really Truly Make Your Performance Dreams a Reality”
If you missed Part 1 check it out here FIRST!
So today I want to talk about a tricky, maybe not so fun word… Discipline
What comes up for you when you see that word? Discipline
One of my first lessons in discipline was committing to practice time when I learned to play cello at 8 and then trombone at ten. (I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the best at the practice thing, but I would not have reached All-State status without it.)
I also think of the discipline that went into training for and running my first (and only) marathon. Multiple training runs a week, completing smaller races (5K,10K and ½ marathon) and straight up building the muscles and endurance needed to run an outrageous distance!
For me, the marathon experience was all about discipline. In fact, I specifically wanted to use the training process and race itself as a tool to develop more discipline. I could easily see it as an overwhelming, impossible goal, but learned that with small, consistent, daily actions it was achievable.
I was actually inspired by an accomplished jazz musician whom I’d met in my travels who was playing with the big guys (Winton Marsalis, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and served as a Global Jazz Ambassador). He ran several marathons each year amidst his travels and between gigs. It was clear that he had discovered running marathons once he’d found success as a musician, and clear to me that his discipline from one facet of life transferred to another.
Over a few days, while we working on a promotional gig for the Virgin Fest in Baltimore, MD, he introduced me to his training. We biked, ran, and he was insistent that anyone can run a marathon, even me. (I would have never considered myself an athlete at that point.)
Recently out of college, and in full pursuit of making my own performance dreams a reality, here I found myself in the presence of an artist who was living the dream--- Staying in shape, creating relationships wherever he went and always pursuing new opportunities.
It was clear to me in that moment… I would take the challenge to run a marathon and then transfer that discipline to my acting career.
He said “it’s all about putting in the daily work. Making that commitment to yourself and the goal. Anyone can do it.”
Have you ever heard the phrase “anyone can be an actor?”
Is that true?
What does that bring up for you?
Do you have a ton of training but maybe not all of the credits you desire?
Do you feel it unfair that lesser trained actors are working more?
Are you seeing folks on TV or onstage and think, “why is that not ME?”
Why isn’t it?!
Were you at that audition? Are you meeting the directors, casting directors and writers who are working at that level?
If you are unclear where to start, check out my here.
Finally, you know this is true, but I kind of have to say it: If YOU are not PUTTING IN THE WORK no one is going to do it for you! Even if you are working with an agent or manager, they will at most be putting in the 10-15% to help bring you audition opportunities. It is up to YOU to show up with your best craft, in your best shape, create those relationships and BOOK IT!
You can do this.
I am by NO MEANS saying “Discipline is easy”… that the daily commitment is easy.
I am not suggesting you set out to run a marathon this year (though you have my full support if that’s something you’re interested in!)
I’m just saying it is a simple concept, daily consistent action in pursuit of a major, never-before-achieved-by-you goal will bring success.
So, let’s put this into action, shall we?
If you haven’t already, to download your “Really, Truly” Action Packet. Work through pages 2 & 3-- the steps to create Office/Rehearsal Hours for yourself and tap into the Weekly Action plan. Begin charting out your daily actions and show up for yourself each day.
If you find this article helpful, please share via FB & Twitter and…
Let me know how it goes for you in the comment section below!
Are You Really, Truly doing EVERYTHING in Your Control to Make Your Performance Dreams A Reality? [Part 1- Work Ethic]
So you have this dream…
To be on Broadway…
To book your first television role…
(Fill in the blank—whatever the dream is for you)
But you feel like it is far out of reach.
Okay, maybe it is, but… Why?
Were you ever told by a friend or relative that “performing for a living is impractical” or that you will always be a “starving artist” and believed that?
Or do folks pat you on the head and say “aw, that’s cute” when you share your hopes & dreams with them? (First off, be careful who’s advice you are choosing to listen to, but alas, that is another blog post altogether.)
These phrases can stick with you, impacting your mindset, making the pursuit of reaching your dreams feel near to impossible?
In fact, those phrases can stick in your head so much so that you don’t even know how to BEGIN pursuing the “dream”.
Or maybe this is closer to where you are right now…
You’ve been pursuing this dream for years with some minor success, but feel deterred whenever you are unable to crack that next level, sign with an agent or bring in enough income from performing that you can quit your day job?
Finding success as a professional actor IS difficult!
I’ve been there, I still find myself struggling some days, but because I am now in consistent pursuit of my goals and have a multi-pronged approach in place, the energy I am giving to my work ethic far outweighs the energy I choose to put into a doubtful mindset (which if I let it, could paralyze me).
Over the next few blog posts I will explore three qualities that may be in need of your attention: Work Ethic, Discipline and a Mindset of Determination & Tenacity
How are you currently in action to find or create that next performance opportunity?
Following are a few areas to explore:
These actions are all in our control. If you are unsure where to meet casting directors or find auditions begin with my “Top 25 Resources for Actors & Singers.”
Finally, I’ve put together a list of actions you can take TODAY to trigger that work ethic (page 1 in "Really, Truly" Action Packet below). Please pick just one action to start with! And let me know how it goes in the comment section below :)
This question pops up in my coaching sessions time and again.
So here’s my take…
For those not familiar: an EPA [Equity Principal Audition] is an audition open to Actors Equity members, providing the opportunity for an Equity (union) actor to be seen by a regional theater, Off-Broadway or Broadway production. Equity Membership Candidates (EMC) may also participate if time permits. Non-union actors may or may not be seen depending on time or management.
I have had success in these auditions and I have heard crickets chirp.
In the past I too waited all day as an EMC member, and as a non-union actor was sometimes turned away after a four-hour bus trip. I have also found joy when receiving a callback for a national tour or booking a regional production via this route. My hope is that the following guidelines may help you in making the choice “to go” or “not to go”.
If you’re unrepresented…
This may be the only opportunity you have to audition for an Equity company or production. It is likely that agent appointments take precedence and may have more decision makers in the room (compared to some EPA rooms where one casting assistant is in the room fulfilling the requirement or sifting through headshots). However, if you are unrepresented, the EPA could be your only opportunity to be seen. So in this case, I say GO FOR IT—go to the EPA!
If you are PERFECT for the role/show…
Let me give you an example. I have performed in a couple regional productions of AVENUE Q and would LOVE to be seen for the ongoing production at New World Stages. If I am unable to schedule an audition appointment through an agent, I will hit the EPA. What have I got to lose?
If there is a dream role or show for which your skills are a perfect match, you owe it to that production team to go in there and show your your best work. I say GO FOR IT!
If you are nurturing a specific relationship with someone in the room (casting director, producer, composer, etc)…
Do you know one of the decision makers in the room? The EPA would be a great way to say “hi” and give them an update of what you are up. GO FOR IT!
If the audition is outside of NYC or LA…
If you live or work in a market outside of NYC or LA, the EPA may be worth your time. Some regional theaters do not even hold auditions in NY or LA so their local EPA is the only audition available—chances will likely be in your favor. On the other hand, a company may only be holding local EPAs as a contract requirement, and may be fully cast, have a resident company or hire exclusively from NY & LA.
Do your research. Ask around. Check the breakdown for specific roles available. It may not be worth your time to drive from DC to VT for a local EPA, if they are only seeking understudies—or it might… For me, it would have to be a dream role and/or a director, producer, etc. who I am in relationship with in in order for my travel (time & money) to be worth it.
As with all auditions, the audition is only a piece in the puzzle. It is up to you to be prepared, follow-up and nurture relationships with the decision-makers in the room, and at the end of the day LET IT GO.
For more on nurturing relationships, check out this previous post.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your experience with EPAs below.
the global actor