“Everything changes when we give up trying to get rid of fear and just make friends with it.” — Greg Sims

Greg Sims is a professional actor and goal setting coach. His clients include everyone from multimillion-dollar pop stars, to school teachers, to Netflix executives. He helps them set goals and create the lives of their dreams.

Greg recently sat down with Casting Frontier to share his advice for booking auditions, growing as a performer, and dealing with fear and anxiety.

From Addict to Coach

A professional actor since the age of 19, Greg’s career was on the rise until his addiction to drugs and alcohol got in the way. In 2002, he hit rock bottom. Through the guidance of others who had been in his position, he was able to overcome his addiction. In recovery, he learned to accept what was within his power and release what wasn’t.

Not surprisingly, his addiction had left his acting career in shambles. Greg began to apply the skills he learned in recovery to acting.

“My technique is this very stoic philosophy that there are things we have power over and there are things that we don’t,” Greg says. ”If we focus on what we have power over we lead happy, meaningful lives. And if we focus on what we don’t have power over we drive ourselves crazy.”

By taking things one day at a time and setting small goals, he was able to book acting jobs and get his career back on track. 

Now that he was healthy and thriving Greg returned to another love, teaching. He began to share his technique with his acting students. His unique approach resonated with actors and led some to seek private coaching with him.

For the past 11 years, Greg’s been coaching actors just starting out, series regulars, and celebrities. Here are some of the techniques, exercises, and advice he gives to his clients. 

Casting Calls and Goal Setting

Greg’s top tip for how to book more acting jobs comes down to goal setting. He recommends giving yourself a deadline. If your goal is to book a breakthrough role — set a date.

“Keep in mind that the date is just a game we’re playing,” Greg says. ”It’s just so the mind has something to focus on. If an actor says ‘my goal is to book this breakthrough role’ and it’s open-ended — you go back to sleep, because you have all the time in the world.”

Greg also advises his students to work backward. Determine what smaller steps you need to take to achieve your goal.

Do you have a great agent who is getting you career-building auditions? If not, you’ll need a killer demo reel to sign with a good agent. No demo reel yet? Ok, then the step before that is to get some dazzling material that shows off your skill and magnetic personality. 

That’s your first goal. Book some smaller roles. This will allow you to build a reel that gets an agent’s attention. 

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

In his experience, Greg knows the key to growing as a performer is to do what scares you.  

“90% of the actions that are outside of your comfort zone are going to be the most effective,” Greg says. “Because the ones that are in your comfort zone you’re probably already doing. And they haven’t worked.”

Greg shared one of his favorite exercises to help actors find actionable ways to achieve their goals.

3-Day Brainstorming Exercise

For 3 days in a row, when you first wake up in the morning, grab a journal. Spend 20 minutes brainstorming actions you can take to reach your goal. Don’t judge. Just brain dump. By the end of day 3, you should have quite a list. 

Now pick the scariest thing on that list and start there. If sending cold emails to agents terrifies you — that’s a sign you should flex that muscle. Break it down into easy, manageable steps. Instead of saying you’ll spend all day cold emailing, start small. Do some research and find agents to reach out to. Start drafting your email.

“It’s just each day coming up with one thing,” Greg says. “One thing that you’re going to do for at least 20 minutes outside of your comfort zone. Aim to do that.”

Maximize Your Down Time

“People think they don’t want a balanced life, but they really do,” Greg says. When you find yourself between roles or not getting a ton of auditions, this is the time to focus on other aspects of your life.

Work on strengthening your relationships or getting in shape. Learn French, take up archery, volunteer for a cause that matters to you.  When you let go of what’s not working, you leave space for your life to sort itself out. 

“I believe that the biggest block most actors have is they’re worshiping their acting careers. They’re in obsession with it,” Greg says. Acting should be a part of your life, but not your whole life.

Agents and casting directors can tell when you’re miserable. By finding people and activities outside of acting that make you happy, you become a well-rounded person. And you have more life experience to draw from when you’re playing a role. 

Embrace Your Anxiety

“Fear and anxiety don’t have to go anywhere,” Greg says. “I think many actors have this fantasy idea about being in the moment. I should feel such confidence or I should feel like the character feels or I just need to be in this pristine ‘in the zone’ state. 

“As human beings, we can’t control our feelings when we try to get rid of fear. It just makes it worse. What you need to do not only in the actual scene, but from the moment you enter the casting office, is to understand that you can’t control your feelings. You can act through them.”

Fear and anxiety make you a real human. And that’s always more interesting to watch than a glass sculpture of an actor who is set in his ways.

If you struggle with nerves and anxiety on-set or at casting calls, Greg suggests you focus on your “doable job.” You can’t control anything else anyway. Pick an action for yourself and direct your energy toward that instead of your nerves. 

“The action I play with all casting directors is to let them know they’re in good hands. That’s my job,” Greg says. “From the Associate to the main CD, to any actors in the hallway talking to me. I’m just letting everybody know that they’re in good hands.”

Once he’s in the audition room, Greg shifts his action to one that works for the audition scene.

“I don’t think of creating a character,” Greg says. “I choose an action to play with the reader. I look the reader in the eye and let the lines mean anything and just focus on comforting them if that’s my action. And everything that happens from missing a line to bumping into something, I keep returning to that action. It creates this illusion for the viewer of a character because it’s just me.”

Get to Work

Ready to give goal setting a try? Grab a journal, pick a goal, and set a date. Take small, doable steps every day to reach your goal. Give Greg’s 3-day brainstorming exercise a try if you’re feeling stuck. 

For more information about Greg’s Power Audition Technique visit GregSimsPATH.com.

And for more information about Practical Goal Setting Technique check out PGSTcoach.com.