The world feels like it’s coming apart. The industry seems uncaring. Your reps (if you have reps) are wrapped up in the Pilot Season/awards/industry swirl and can’t help; hell, they’re not even returning your emails. There’s a knot in your stomach and you feel stuck. As a deep-feeling being, you’re carrying a ton of stress, anxiety, and fear. There doesn’t seem to be a way out. You want to crawl into bed and binge watch… anything.
We get it. It sucks.
First, know that you’re not alone. You and thousands of other people, hundreds of other actors, tons of other industry professionals are feeling it. On top of everything else, television crews are exhausted, counting the days until they get a vacation. More than ever, pilot producers are desperately scrambling to put their show together, praying for divine intervention. Movie people are wondering how to reclaim a business that has become a shadow of its former self and more specifically, how to pay their rent, even after making a celebrated Sundance film. We’re all watching the news (and the insane Twitter feeds) and feeling despair. And anger. And often helplessness.
So, what’s an actor to do?
You cannot shut down. Your job requires you to stay present and vulnerable, to be affected by the people and things around you, no matter how painful. And to be leaders in the expression of what you see and feel. It’s the only way your work will matter, in the audition room, on set, or on stage.
So… start by stopping. Right now! Bring yourself to awareness. Become conscious. Get out of the spiral you may be in. Whatever is pulling you away from your artistry, away from the expression of your talent, away from self-awareness- cut that cord and make way for change. It’s going to take work. You’re going to have to make real shifts. You’re going to have to be a warrior. You’re going to have to wake up in the morning every day and train your brain to do things differently. That means changing the cycle (we ALL have cycles) and making some important decisions about what truly makes you happy and what really matters. And then it means turning your decisions into action and creative expression, waiting for no one.
Wherever you are in your career, you have to have a foundational structure in place that helps manage the world around you, the emotional and financial ups and downs, and become the voice of others. You have to have a foundation that keeps you balanced and deep in the craft of creating even when you’re not working (auditioning is usually not enough), and keeps you whole and happy so that you can suit up and show up with gusto for that next audition, whenever it comes. Creating a practice that keeps you connected to yourself, to a creative community, and to the world around you, makes you a better person and a better actor. This is how you deal with the world that seems to be falling apart, the business that is indifferent, and your life that just doesn’t feel like it has space to deal with it all.
Start now. Stop. Take stock. Commit to a practice of generous self-care, deep engagement with the world, and creative expression. Take care of YOU. Your career will thank you for it.