Photo Credit: David Pereiras /

The entertainment industry is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult industries to break into, let alone build a career in. Its demand for top talent and its sometimes ruthless nature means building resiliency is essential for actors to keep their focus and make strides in the business.

The current WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes have highlighted the many challenges that writers and actors face in the industry, from unfair wages and labor inequity to job insecurity with the emergence of AI. In light of these strikes, it’s clear that resilience is key to the success of any aspiring industry professional, including actors. This article offers a holistic approach to building resilience as an actor, with supportive advice and low-cost tips to help you navigate the ups and downs of the entertainment industry.

The Importance of Resilience in Acting

With the unique demands and challenges of being an actor, resilience is an invaluable quality to nurture. It plays a crucial role in your ability to navigate the industry and maintain a healthy, sustainable career. From rejection and criticism to emotional intensity and competition, resilience can help you stay motivated while maintaining your mental health along the way.

For a myriad of reasons, acting can be a psychologically taxing profession. You may need to portray characters with traumatic experiences or explore challenging emotional states, which can contribute to many actors developing issues like anxiety, depression or burnout. And if you’re eager to make a long-term career out of acting, learning how to adapt to changing trends, maintain your passion for the craft and endure the ups and downs of the industry will aid you in enjoying sustained success.

Embracing Rejection

More often than not, actors fear rejection rather than embracing it. Let’s face it, we’re only human. But the hard truth is that rejection is inherent in the industry, so embracing it is a skill that will make it easier to stay motivated and avoid burnout.

It’s important to remember that rejection doesn’t necessarily reflect an actor’s talent, skill or worth as a performer. It often stems from a multitude of factors beyond an actor’s control, such as the director’s vision, casting choices or even budget constraints. It isn’t a personal attack, but rather a result of circumstances.

When you face audition rejection, try some of these healthy ways to deal with it and move forward:

  • Process Emotions: It’s natural to feel disappointment, frustration or even sadness after a rejection. Acknowledge these emotions and allow yourself to feel them without judgment. It’s okay to be upset, but don’t let it consume you.
  • Self-Reflection: After the initial emotional reaction, take a step back and reflect on the audition. Consider what you did well and what areas you can improve. Use rejection as a learning opportunity to grow as a performer.
  • Maintain Perspective: Remember that rejection is a part of the industry, and even the most successful actors have faced it numerous times. Your worth as an actor is not determined by one audition.
  • Stay Proactive: Keep auditioning and seeking new opportunities. The more auditions you attend, the better your chances of landing a role. Consistency and persistence are key.
  • Support System: Lean on your support network, whether it’s friends, family or fellow actors. They can provide valuable encouragement and perspective during challenging times.

When receiving an audition rejection email, learn to read between the lines for growth opportunities. Many rejection emails use standardized language without offering specific feedback, but occasionally you’ll be able to find subtle signs or phrases that could indicate potential future opportunities or a positive impression. Here’s what to look for:

  • Encouraging Language: Some rejection emails will say things like, “We were impressed with your audition” or “We hope to see you again in the future.” These hints suggest that the casting team acknowledges your talent and may consider you for future projects.
  • Specific Feedback: Occasionally, you might receive feedback that provides insight into why you weren’t selected. While this is relatively rare, it can be valuable for self-improvement.
  • Stay on Their Radar: If the rejection email mentions keeping your information on file or subscribing to their casting newsletter, take this as an invitation to stay connected with the casting agency or production company. You never know when the next opportunity might arise.

Remember that rejection is an inevitable part of acting, but it can lead to growth and eventual success when handled with resilience and optimism.

Self-Care and Mental Health for Actors

Your mental well-being is intimately connected to your job as an actor, so self-care and your mental health need to be prioritized. On one hand, acting allows you to express emotions and explore the depths of human experiences, which can be cathartic and therapeutic. On the other hand, the constant pressure of auditions, the emotional intensity of roles and the unpredictability of the industry can take a toll on your mental health. Maintaining a healthy balance is crucial.

Counseling and therapy options are invaluable resources for actors. Therapy can offer a safe space to process the complex emotions that may arise during performances or after rejections. The Entertainment Community Fund, for example, provides therapy services tailored to the needs of entertainment professionals. This specialized therapy can help actors cope with industry-related stressors, performance anxiety and the emotional toll of their work.

Self-care can help you stay grounded and resilient. Explore practices like meditation, mindfulness, regular exercise, a balanced diet and adequate sleep (more on these later). These self-care routines can help you manage stress, stay physically and mentally healthy and improve your overall well-being. Additionally, engaging in hobbies, spending time with loved ones and taking breaks when needed can prevent burnout and provide much-needed relaxation.

Continuous Learning and Growth

Part of building resilience as an actor involves continuous learning and diversifying your skills. Acting is a dynamic craft that demands versatility. Continuous learning can help you expand your repertoire, adapt to various acting styles and tackle a wider range of roles. You can diversify your skills by taking voice lessons, learning different accents or honing your improvisational abilities. This will help make you more versatile and increase your chances of landing diverse roles.

Looking for low-budget learning opportunities? You don’t need to spend a fortune on training. Many low-cost or free resources are available, including online platforms like YouTube and podcasts, offering a wealth of acting tips, techniques and insights from industry professionals. Community theaters, acting schools and local acting groups often provide affordable workshops and classes, too. These resources can empower you to continue learning without breaking the bank.

Remember that setting realistic expectations is crucial for any actor’s mental and emotional well-being. While continuous learning can enhance your skills, it’s essential to understand that success in the acting industry often involves a combination of talent, hard work, timing and luck. Unrealistic expectations can lead to frustration and disappointment. Embracing the journey of growth and recognizing that success may take time can help you maintain a positive outlook, even in the face of challenges and setbacks.

Mindfulness, Meditation and Physical Activity

Mindfulness and meditation are powerful tools that you can use to nurture your mental health and enhance resilience. Meditation includes practices that focus on deep relaxation, self-awareness and mental clarity. For actors, meditation can be especially beneficial as it helps to cultivate presence, emotional stability and concentration—all of which are essential for delivering authentic and compelling performances. Regularly engaging in mindfulness exercises can help you become more attuned to your emotions and better equipped to manage stress, stage fright or performance anxiety. It can also provide a mental clarity that enhances your ability to inhabit the characters you portray, making your performances more convincing and emotionally resonant.

Physical activity is another crucial component of your well-being and resilience as an actor. Regular exercise contributes to both your physical health and mental well-being. Physical activity releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters, which can help you combat stress, anxiety and depression. Staying physically fit can also improve your stamina and energy levels, vital for enduring the demanding physical and emotional challenges of acting. Whether it’s yoga, dance, strength training or simply going for a jog, incorporating physical activity into your routine can significantly boost your overall mental resilience.

Beyond these mental and physical practices, seeking out actor support groups and networks can provide a sense of community and guidance as you navigate the industry. These groups offer a safe space for actors to share their experiences, challenges and triumphs, providing a sense of camaraderie and support. Within them, you might even find opportunities for networking and mentorship, which could help develop your career. Actor support networks can be a place to gain valuable insights or receive constructive feedback from fellow performers. These communities can help you stay motivated and connected in a profession that often comes with isolation and uncertainty.

To Recap:

Here are a few takeaways to help you build a successful and sustainable acting career:

  • Understand that resilience is the key to longevity and success in the profession.
  • Embrace rejection as a stepping stone for growth, rather than viewing it as a roadblock to your dreams.
  • Prioritize your mental health by seeking therapy, practicing self-care and incorporating mindfulness techniques into your routines.
  • Continuously upskill and adapt to the evolving industry, expanding your repertoire and versatility.
  • Seek out and actively engage with a supportive community, drawing strength from shared experiences and guidance.

Nurturing your resilience will allow you to withstand the inherent challenges of being an actor in the demanding entertainment industry. Your journey will be full of ups and downs, but with resilience, guidance and a supportive community, you can weather any storm and shine brightly on center stage.

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Written by Mary Scraggs