Better Habits for Better Actors
We actors are sensitive creatures -- it’s our job to be! It’s our job to listen to our intuition, to tell the truth -- our truth -- and to be fearless in doing so. As actors we put our hearts and our entire being on the line for rejection, criticism, and judgement over and over. I think that being an actor (if you’re really doing it) is one of the most courageous jobs there is.
Unfortunately, only a few trained artists/actors can actually navigate and optimize any perceived negative feedback that comes their way. This critique, rejection, or perceived failure can send any delicate creative creature into a downward spiral of negative behaviors, diminishing self-talk, feelings of unworthiness, and the familiar “I’m not enough” syndrome.
Marisa Peer, hypnotherapist, international speaker, and best-selling author says that the biggest disease affecting humanity is the belief “I’m not enough.” As actors, this is a pretty common theme that 99% of us have experienced in varying degrees -- or is it just me?
We must learn how to put attention into ourselves!
Now as a woman in my 40’s, mother of two, actress, yoga teacher/ health and life coach, what I’ve learned from experience, failure, success, joy, and struggle is that FIRST & FOREMOST, the most important person we must put our attention on and into is OURSELVES.
As an actor, we’re trained to put our attention on our partner and get out of our own way. But as a functioning, healthy, thriving human being we need to go IN before we can go OUT.
I’ll use this example, as I am a mother and have a responsibility for two small people. If I am not happy, fulfilled, nourished, and don’t have my needs met (this is common for mothers) and the mama ship sinks, goes into depression, gets sick, is miserable, doesn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, and hates life -- what damn good am I to anybody else -- my kids, my friends, my community or my career?
Same thing as an artist. If we do not take care of ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, then who the hell is walking into that audition room? Yep you go it -- an actor that is tired, hungover, over-caffeinated, lacking in confidence, desperate, needy, ungrounded, risky, insecure, uninteresting, overcompensating, and repellant.
As an actor, we MUST take care of and honor ourselves, our talent, our health, our dreams, our minds, and our journey. It’s not selfish if done in a way that is about self-care for the bigger good and nobody else is getting hurt, disrespected, or suffering in any way. When we take care of ourselves, we can show up for others, our community, and the world as our best selves. When we let our light shine, we give others permission to do the same.
Who do I get to be?
My acting coach Tim Phillips says that when we look at a script the first question we should ask ourselves from a place of curiosity is, “Who do I get to be next?” Tim would tell the story of Robert Duvall, his old buddy, sitting at his dining room table reading a new script. “He could be heard from the other room laughing, disputing, endorsing, and hitting the script from time to time. When I walked in the room, there was Bobby in full conversation with the script, slapping it, yelling at it, cursing it.” He was engaging with WHO he gets to be in this script.
We get to make that choice every single day, every moment. Who do we get to be in the script of our life? As we are constantly evolving, learning, and growing daily, we get to choose who we want to be next. What’s the the life we want to live, the body we want to have, how we want to feel, the balance in our bank account, our relationships, and so much more? It’s a choice we get to make, and in doing so we also choose our daily habits that align and support (or undermine and conflict) with the person we want to become. It’s called identity evolution.
For example: A marathon runner has certain habits. They make sure to get the sleep they need to train the next day, so they go to bed and rise at a certain time. They choose, shop for, and prepare certain foods that nourish them and give them the energy they need. They design their day to fit in their appropriate training schedule. They include, schedule, and show up for workouts that support their running and their bodies’ needs. They log their miles weekly/monthly, and they train their minds to stay disciplined and moving daily toward their goals.
How many marathon runners do you think smoke cigarettes, sleep four hours a night, skip trainings because they just don’t feel like it, or blame others for not completing a race? Hmmm… yep -- probably none!
They have the habits of a marathon runner!
Decide who you want to be!
What are your daily habits that support your goals as a successful, working, money-producing actor/ artist? What do you do on a regular basis that supports you showing up to your meetings, auditions, call-backs, and booked jobs that keep you aligned with your goals?
What are your goals? It can’t just be to book THAT ONE job. Again, my coach Tim Phillips’s audition book is called, “Audition for Your Career, Not the Job.” I say, show up for your life, not just your career.
Who do you want to be and feel as you walk in that room, or on that set? Someone that is looking for validation from a camera assistant or casting director who really doesn’t give a s**t about you or your life after these five minutes? Sure they want you to get the job -- to make THEIR life easier and make THEM look good for the executive above them that they DO care about for the sake of THEIR own job and future.
My point is, HOW you show up in that room and WHO you show up as and HOW you feel, is only up to one person -- YOU!!!
What habits do you do daily that are creating the type of person you are today? Decide who you want to be:
A. Someone that is in control of their outcomes, that walks into a meeting feeling confident, grounded, nourished, energized, has other passions, gives back to the world, feels awesome in their body, clear in their mind, and connected to a bigger picture,
-- OR --
B. Someone that slinks into the room looking for validation, needing someone else to tell you you’re “good enough,” feeling ungrounded and spacy, nervous, anxious, discontent with your appearance, fearful, tired, desperate to the book the job…..you get my point.
The days of the “brooding actor” are over. We’ve seen what can happen to those artists that let this business get the best of them, fall prey to an unhealthy lifestyle, or lose themselves in the process and look to drugs, alcohol, and other distractions to make them feel good and cope with the ups and downs of this crazy, wild, unpredictable, awesome business.
To name a few: Amy Winehouse, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Brittany Murphy, Heath Ledger, Cory Monteith, Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain, Whitney Houston, River Phoenix...
If the goal is to do what you love and create a career for yourself around your talent and passions, express your art, live a healthy, vibrant, thriving lifestyle and navigate the ups and downs of this unpredictable business with grace and ease, then it is imperative that you make choices and create habits that align with those goals!
Check out my “4 Daily Habits for Actors” Tipsheet.
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Marisa Peer speaks about the biggest disease affecting humanity -- “I’m not enough.”