When Reality Bites, Move Forward
In the crazy, wonderful, ridiculous pursuit of acting there are going to be times when reality bites. Things will just seem to be stacked against us (and it will likely happen a lot). It truly can be one of the most disheartening businesses out there, designed to offer significantly more rejection than approval. Not to mention a serious lack of any sort of clear “path”.
We can go to school for it, take as many classes as possible, read every book, submit ourselves consistently for auditions, and still not be where we hoped we would be. Sure, one could argue that no matter what business a person is entering themselves into they will always strive to move up. What is it about acting that seemingly puts so many expectations on us though?
When Reality Bites, Take a Step Back
This sort of tangential thinking can become increasingly cyclical, causing us to spiral into a state of self-doubt. It’s vital in these moments to take a step back.
Take a breath.
The reality of this moment may be biting but it’s up to us how we respond. One of my favorite lines from Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is “My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice”. Of course, this is an over-simplified solution to legitimate feelings of stress and anxiety, but there is some definite truth there. Why do we spend so much time stressing about what role we would like to be playing, who we want to be working with, and where we would like our careers to be?
Love the Now
If what someone really wants is to act, there are SO many opportunities to do that. Not every artistic (or life) decision needs to be done with the intent of “furthering our careers”. There are community theaters, small 99-seat professional theaters, likely even random acquaintances that are itching to co-write and produce something.
Opportunities to act are everywhere and when we find ourselves in one of these “small” jobs it is vital to put as much effort, energy, and (perhaps most importantly) joy into them. There is truly no use in mentally draining ourselves thinking of ways to fast forward to an idealistic version of the future when we have chance after chance to love our now. When reality bites, bite back.
You Can’t Move Up Without Moving Forward
All of this is not to say we shouldn’t have goals or shoot “higher”. It is the human condition to want things and it is this drive that keeps us motivated to pursue anything. It is great to make those important connections, work toward more professional demos and agencies, etc. but not at the expense of our mental health.
One of our recent guests in Steve’s Teaching Series Maile Flanagan spoke about making time to do three things every day to further her career and how this routine is largely responsible for her success. That could mean anything from submitting auditions to writing something, reading a play, even sending a friend a resumé to look over. She did these things all while still participating in small theater productions, comedy troupes, etc. and enjoying the work she was doing.
The reality of many actors’ situations may “bite” a bit too hard to allow time for all of this but it is the sort of balance we should strive for. We don’t have to stay stagnant, but we also don’t have to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves regarding things that haven’t even happened yet. Without enjoying the process and our current situation or focusing on our mental health, we won’t be able to progress toward our goals. You can’t move up without continuing to move forward.
Director of Media and Technical Services at Blumvox Studios, Brandon Blum manages, edits, and creates much of the content you will see, both on the website and in Blumvox’s social media videos. He also runs the tech for our live classes and offers technical help related to our site for those who need it.
Brandon has a B.A. in Theater Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz and also works as an actor in the Los Angeles area.