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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.
It was 2014.
I was a newlywed allowing myself to binge watch television for the first time in my life.
My new husband, Justin, had encouraged me to put the energy I really needed into my acting dream--- see how far I could reach. I had been working professionally as an actor for years and had managed to whittle down my job juggling to just a handful of teaching jobs between acting gigs. My acting career was in an okay place. That year I had joined Actors Equity (the professional union for stage actors), a checkpoint I had working towards for years.
Though to be honest, I wasn’t quite satisfied.
Every year or so my good friend (and fellow Virgo) Aaron and I would share our “list” of desired professional and personal outcomes for the year ahead or next several months. I observed the list morphing over time, but nothing was accomplished quickly. Afterall, it had taken SEVERAL YEARS to cross off “join Equity”.
That September I marked my birthday with a time of reflection. I took part in a “Live Your Best Life Now” 5-day challenge, and envisioned what my five year plan looked like.
Where was I and where did I want to be?
Who did I want to be?
What kind of stories did I want to tell?
And how did I want to serve others?
Soon after the challenge,
I began working with a strategy coach.
I learned how to goal-set, how to put deadlines in place and nurture relationships. Over the next several months I worked with a variety of accountability partners who were also in the entertainment industry. We shared our goals and deadlines, lended support and shared our progress on small action items during our regular checkins.
I quickly learned that the reason I rarely checked off the big items on my list, such as “become a voiceover artist”, “take new headshots”, or “be on TV” was because they were huge goals-- made up of dozens of action items.
I had not been in the habit of charting out and checking off a ton of action items on my dream goals. For years I had looked at each goal as a giant mountain to climb and found it easier to use my energy working on various other jobs for other people -- ultimately not quite satisfying or lifting me up my own mountains.
With the help of my accountability partner, Craig, an LA-based television composer, we quickly determined that I was giving away a ton of creative work to my fellow creative friends and colleagues for FREE. I took the time to go through my calendar and tally the hours each week I was spending on work that did not support my ultimate dreams and goals and was frankly shocked-- some weeks were as much as 40 hours. “Imagine putting that same amount of time and effort into your own creative work and aspirations?” Craig asked.
I began having difficult conversations with friends and colleagues saying “no” to work that I had previously said “yes” to - turning inward and putting the energy back into my acting career. *Of course I still share ideas with friends and love to brainstorm, but it is not a full-time job, and I am more clear with myself how I spend my time. Furthermore, I do love this work-- it’s why I’m here as a coach!
That fall I created my first voiceover demo, researched how to book VO work and in January 2015 made my first phone calls to casting directors. And boy did I BOOK!
I recorded a commercial right away, then a series of four audiobooks…
A couple months later I had an amazing headshot session with my DREAM PHOTOGRAPHER….
I booked my FIRST SPEAKING ROLE FOR TV!
And so it went…
This month, within two years of my first reach-out I celebrate narrating my 30th audiobook!
Of course there is a ton of work ahead that I cannot wait to book, stories I look forward to tell, but in the meantime I AM living my Dream Career. Remember that quote “If you shoot for the moon, you’ll land among the stars”? That’s where I am, shooting for the moon, and I hope you are in pursuit of the same, whatever that looks like to you.
Through goal-setting, accountability and nurturing relationships I continue to move toward my biggest acting dreams.
And I’ve learned alot. Hence the creation of this blog.
As I learn industry lessons I believe there’s value in sharing with others in pursuit of similar goals and dreams. I am thankful for the many mentors, teachers, colleagues and accountability partners who have helped me along the way, and would LOVE to SUPPORT YOU!
In the months and years ahead you can look forward to step-by-step action plans, inspiring interviews and good old-fashioned advice here on this blog.
If you ever want more support, schedule a private session with me!
We can take a look at your current career, brainstorm your juiciest dream career, and work smarter (not harder) to create a plan that connects the two.
Please leave a comment below about where you are in pursuit of your dreams. I’d love to know. I’d also love to answer any questions you might have.
the global actor