In this issue ~~
What I Learned as an Actress
Nowadays, many people are contemplating a change of career. In the process, there’s sometimes a regret at leaving behind a career that you invested a lot of time in. But nothing ever goes to waste. Every life experience informs future experiences.
I recently had the pleasure of running into a gentleman I worked with during my days in the theatre. (That's me in The Pied Piper.) In current times, this gentleman is “between engagements” and I’m self-employed. We talked about how our work in the theatre prepared us to handle so many aspects of our lives and careers with courage and optimism. I’d like to share some of our insights.
- Be self-reliant.
Whether you’re self-employed or in a salaried position, knowing that you can take care of yourself, no matter what happens, gives you tremendous freedom. As an actor, you know that no job is forever. You learn to keep your skills sharp and to use a variety of skills to make a living. Think about the many skills you have that could turn into career opportunities or side jobs.
- Don’t take rejection personally.
Going to job interviews can be intimidating. For an actor, it’s all in a day’s work. In order to survive and succeed, you have to learn to overcome fear of rejection. The truth is, there are usually numerous factors that go into a hiring decision. As an actor, you may lose a job, not because of a lack of talent, but because your hair is the wrong color, or because you’re too short (or tall), or because the director went with someone they had worked with previously. It’s okay to take a little time to lick your wounds, but you need to keep getting out there to eventually succeed.
- Represent yourself authentically.
As an actor, your first contact with a potential employer is often through your picture and resume. Sometimes, actors send pictures that are outdated, don’t really look like them or show them all “duded up,” in a way they don’t look in real life. When they show up in person looking completely different, they might be all wrong for the part. While you want to present yourself in your best light, you need to be your authentic self. People want to know that what they see is what they’re going to get. This goes for your resume, your online presentation and the way you show up at an interview or meeting, as well as in your personal relationships.
- Be your own best advocate.
It’s not about bragging. But if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? Learn what your strengths are, and don’t be afraid to share them with self-assurance.
- Define success your own way.
When I tell people that I was an actress, they usually ask if I was on Broadway. I wasn’t. It would have been nice, but the truth is, working in a musical children’s theatre company that was like a family was perfect for me. There’s a lot of influence out there to define success in a certain way. But if you achieve someone else’s definition of success, chances are, it won’t be fulfilling for you. Take the time to think about what would make you feel happy and fulfilled, and then go for it.
- Don’t give up.
There’s a phrase in show business: the “overnight success.” But many “overnight successes” were working at their craft for 20 or 30 years before they hit the big time. Be honest with yourself about what you want, and then go for it heart and soul. I did my best as an actress, and when it was no longer satisfying me, I left with no regrets. After 25 years in that business, I was able to apply that persistence to my subsequent careers, and I would have to say that that has been my “secret” to success.
Even though I haven’t been on a stage in almost 20 years, my time in the theatre helped me to build character and an ability to weather change and uncertainty that have served me well. As you look back on your own career path, take stock of your triumphs and challenges, and use them as springboards to move into your future with greater strength and confidence.
Look at past experiences, whether work or personal. What did you learn from those experiences that has served you in your life? What are you learning now that will serve you in the future?
“Each of us has, and uses in every moment of the day, a power of intuitive intelligence that enables us to understand, to speak, and to cope skillfully with our everyday environment. Somehow that intuition summarizes everything we have ever experienced and done, and enables that summary to shape our present decisions.”
~ Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters
“You have only one source of creativity — your own unique talents, skills, perspectives, and experiences. You can't be creative with someone else's stuff, because creativity, by definition, is the process of translating who you are into some outward manifestation. It doesn't matter whether that is a painting, an ad campaign, a holiday dinner, a business report, or the raising of a healthy child. The creative process can be applied to all of our activities, eventually yielding a truly creative life.”
~ G. Lynne Snead and Joyce Wycoff, To Do Doing Done!: A Creative Approach to Managing Projects and Effectively Finishing What Matters Most
“You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you: You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth are the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.”
~ Bruce Mau, "Incomplete Manifesto for Growth"
(click on the book to see a description at Amazon.com)
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten . . . Robert Fulghum
Success Built to Last: Creating a Life that Matters . . . Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery, Mark Thompson
Actualizations: You Don't Have to Rehearse to Be Yourself . . . Stewart Emery
Straight Talk for Success . . . Bud Bilanich
Breaking Into Acting for Dummies . . . Larry Garrison & Wallace Wang
Promoting Your Acting Career: A Step-by-Step Guide to Opening the Right Doors . . . Glenn Alterman
Self-Management for Actors: Getting Down to (Show) Business . . . Bonnie Gillespie
© 2009 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.
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