It usually happens around 3pm. A dull headache sets in, followed by irritability, and then an intolerance for anything and everything. My wife, daughter, and I are all among those who get what is referred to as “Hangry,” the marriage of Angry and Hungry. It’s not a medical term, but one that accurately depicts what we become when we don’t eat regularly enough. And let me tell you, we’re a barrel of laughs when we’re all Hangry at the same time. It’s nightmarish. We’re short with one another, have no ability to think rationally, and our hunger becomes the fault of everyone else.
And with a bird’s eye view on so many acting careers we see similar things happen to a lot of actors. They have a need to act. Like food, it’s an essential part of their survival. They need it to feel whole and happy. As they turn their focus to the business, they expect that the business will satisfy their need. But it can’t. It’s not its job and it doesn’t have the ability to see to your basic needs consistently. So they’re left hungry. And when there’s an expectation that will never be consistently met, anger sets in. Resentment. Bitterness. “Hanger.”
Actors often show up at our Studio with resentment towards the business, feeling like it’s the fault of the business that they aren’t satisfied creatively and financially. But as is the case with my wife and me, taking care of your most basic needs is your responsibility. Showing up to your audition with a selfish expectation that you will be given a level of consideration that the business is unable to give you only creates more bitterness. You have to take responsibility for your own needs. You have to nurture and care for yourself.
Knowing ourselves as we do, my wife and I usually do a good job of eating regularly, packing snacks if we’ll be on the road for a while, and checking the clock to make sure that 3 hours haven’t passed without us eating something. We have to treat ourselves like children, seeing to our most basic needs on a regular basis. Actors must do the same thing. You have to know what you need to be a whole, happy actor who can show up to the audition full, generous, and having done the work. And then give it to yourself. That’s your job. Expecting a casting director or show-runner to make sure you’re “ok” creatively is as ridiculous as it is for me to expect someone to make sure I’m eating. I’m a grown person and that’s on me.
Ask yourself, “what do I need?” Then give it to yourself. Turn it into a practice. Once you do you’ll discover that everything outside of that is icing on the cake. You’re able to move past your basic needs and onto deeper creative work, deeper relationships, transcendent growth. You’re able to discover and express your power.