frontier insider

I love actors. Most of my friends are actors. They’re ballsy, they’re nuts, creative, curious, and their craft is all the emotions that make us human. But here’s the problem with people who love to pretend. They fool themselves. On one level, it’s what makes an actor great. They believe what they’re doing, and the audience, in turn, goes along for the ride. However, when it comes to taking a brutal inventory of where we are at, actors can lie to themselves. Once again, a little bit of delusion goes a long way. Not all actors will end up making a living at their art, so they have to lie to themselves a bit, that they will be amongst the lucky few, and pursue that dream to the bitter end. I encourage that!

Rather than debate the futility of it all, because we’re gonna chase our dreams anyway, let’s be honest about how we can do better. Not just booking more jobs, but better at our craft, and perhaps most important of all, how can we feel better about ourselves and our work? This 3 part series is an unflinching look at rebooting ourselves for 2020. How to look for problem areas in our craft, business, and attitude, and make this a year of change and growth in all areas. A year from now, you’ll want to know you grew in big ways in 2020, and that means DAILY changes in your artistic, mental, and spiritual routine.

First, let’s discuss your happiness. Seriously, if you’re miserable all the time, either quit, or change. Didn’t you pursue a career in the arts because it’s what you love? Love it! Like most actors, you’re probably letting your happiness be dictated by somebody else validating you. Maybe it’s the public at large if you’re on TV every week, or maybe it’s your Mom if you’re doing community theater in the suburbs. On each side of the spectrum, and everyone in between, has the same problem: They’re letting outside voices dictate their serenity. Don’t do that.

While I work primarily as a screenwriter and producer, I have many actor friends. And so many of them (too many) are not truly enjoying the journey. I was on the phone once with a friend, a series regular on a hit show, making great money, and he was so frustrated that his character had hardly any good scenes lately and no arc on the show that season. Of course, those of you reading this that are waiting tables to pay your bills, would think my friend is a whiner, and that by no means would you ever take such fortune for granted! Guess again. Better yet, let’s look at where you’re at. Are you angry and complaining? Not judging you for doing that, but I want you to stop. Because if you are truly, absolutely, pursuing your dream, you’re already living your dream life. It’s true. Most people spend their life doing a job they don’t care about, with NO DREAM to keep them going. They’ve long since forgotten what they dreamt about. Yet so many of us move to L.A. or NYC, and we have fire in our belly and passion in our hearts, and then, year after year, the bitterness set in. Don’t let it. I tell friends to write something basic over and over again, like Bart in the opening of The Simpsons. You can do it in your own words, but you’ll get the basic idea: The dream isn’t a goal, it’s a daily adventure. For example, write this over and over:

“I am living my dream. Sometimes it’s frustrating. Ups and downs are part of the journey. Some days are more creatively fulfilling then others, and some days pay better than others. But this is exactly the dream life I chose, and I am living that dream!”

Corny, sure. Have you ever heard an Oscar speech that wasn’t? Hell, how sappy are actors after a fun night at acting class? That’s what makes us awesome. We’re passionate people, who feel our feelings for all the world to experience with us.

Now, there’s a second part of this whole rah-rah session… And that is, even though we must embrace we’re we are at career-wise, we must also strive to achieve more. You can do that without bashing yourself. Actors are, ha-ha, overdramatic. Life is either amazing, or we want to kill ourselves. Either madly in love with someone or want to throw them from a bridge. We are extremists, and while committing to a role or working hard at our craft is commendable, being extremely hard on ourselves doesn’t help us. When you are striving to improve your skill, or get a better agent, that doesn’t mean “I suck now” or “my career sucks”. Rather, say to yourself, that the journey is great, and you’re enjoying the ride, but it can’t hurt to want to achieve more goals.

Because anger and bitterness aren’t the motivators we think they are. We think we’ll “show them”, and be a big star (whoever ‘they’ are), but that’s essentially saying you’re doing this because a bad ex or an abusive parent is determining your actions.

Change and grow this year by changing and growing your attitude first. Enjoy it all, and enjoy improvement. Getting better at something doesn’t mean you’ve been doing it wrong all this time. It means you were building towards the next improvement.

Stop viewing that audition you didn’t get as a half-empty glass.

If you’re a talented actor, can’t you simply tell yourself the glass is half full?

When you wake up each day and say “I’m living my dream!”, you’ll be strutting into that audition feeling great about yourself. It will reflect in your work. The casting director, producer, or director will dig your upbeat energy and want to spend time working with you. Even if you don’t book the job, YOU will feel better about the audition.

And you will feel better about yourself. Because we chose a life in the arts to enjoy our lives. Enjoy it.

The next 2 parts in this series, I’ll discuss daily tools to improve our business relationships and our craft.