I know few actors using social media who appear to be soaring. Many seem to be suffering. Not enough auditions or bookings. Making no money. No representation. So much “no” in each person’s situation that it feels like virtually all the actors I know are in crisis.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE IN YOUR CRISIS.
The truth is, we all experience personal and professional crises connected to acting. Some of us experience it more often by failing to remedy the problem effectively the last time. So, we continue to perpetuate it and suffer for a prolonged period of time. Today I want to help you see how to end the perpetual crisis.
I’ll admit, I am one of these actors in crisis at the moment. Nothing is running smoothly right now. New town. No agent. No strong connections here yet. I feel the proverbial burn of the crisis in short episodes every day, then I turn my attention to any steps I can make in the right direction.
One of the steps I chose to make over the weekend involved attending the SAG-AFTRA local membership meeting in Burbank. If my career was running so smoothly where I am booked non-stop, I would be less likely to have the time to attend a meeting like that one. So I went and soaked up all the knowledge I could from the people sharing information, insight, and wisdom.
CRISIS ISN’T ULTIMATELY A BAD THING.
Some words automatically have a negative association for us, and crisis is one of those words. It may come in a term like “financial crisis”, for example. While it does mean something serious is going on, it does not suggest the harm or damage is permanent.
We may be responsible for the issues or they may have caught us by surprise through the acts of others. How we respond to a crisis is truly the better part of the story to focus on. So, for the purpose of this moment, let’s focus on response.
I need visuals to help me make sense of change in behavior. The visual for me in this instance is an aerial view of rural, dirt roads intersecting somewhere near corn fields. One road is running north to south. The other road is running west to east. I’m sure this scene exists in countless shows and films.
I always assume I am headed north along the north-south road and needing to make a decision to turn left or right onto the other road. It all looks like the same from my POV so before I make the turn, I don’t have a sense where I’m going. I just know a turn here is inevitable.
SOLVING A CRISIS ISN’T ABOUT MAKING THE RIGHT TURN.
So, how do I qualify which turn to take? Turning left takes me west. Turning right takes me east. The trick here is the rural crossroads I imagine is actually irrelevant. Where I may be headed at any given moment is less important than what changes I am making inside, in my thinking.
Let me clarify that point. It’s not about where you are right now. It’s solely about what you’re doing right now. Maybe you’re in a small market with few decent productions. Maybe you’re in one of the largest markets without an agent. Either way, how you choose to devote yourself to growing as an actor is an indicator of whether or not you’re handling your current crisis well.
For me, that means opening my mind to focusing on what I don’t know, not what I already learned. It means finding ways to serve my industry and creating relationships in the process. It even means defining crisis as a positive experience which will shape my future as an actor, helping me have more empathy for others in crisis and an ability to more quickly respond to those in need who have not yet discovered they are parked at their own crossroads.
Then, I look around at the corn surrounding the crisis. It looks healthy to me, and sunshine is bouncing off the crop making the area look even more fertile. It’s quiet out there, giving me a chance to reflect on the choices that brought me to that place. And, if I can move past that point for a bit, I won’t starve.
May you see your current (or next) crisis in a similar way. You’ll will survive it. You will learn from it. And, it just might make you a stronger actor.