Commercial actors should never undervalue the power of one’s own thoughts and words.
This month we delve a little into Laurie’s own life philosophy. I’m confident it is valid and more than applicable for actors. So I will share. If you are skeptical, take a deep breath and open your mind for the next five or so minutes. You can (and some of you will) dismiss all as a bunch of bologna at the completion of reading the column. But continue, if you will, as if you might be guilty of negative thoughts/talk from time to time, consider the possible repercussions, and ponder how everything might change if you switch things up…
I’m not a mind reader, so all I can report on is what I’ve actually heard actors say. I can only imagine what their thoughts might be.
Let’s take general audition talk:
I’m not right for this.
There are heavy hitters here. Why am I here?
I’m not good at copy.
I’m really not funny.
I’m paired with the worst partner.
The assistant is so rude.
This wait is terrible. I’ve been here for 45 minutes.
The lobby was filled with the usual mean girls/jerks.
This is so disorganized.
I’m a believer that negative talk is harmful. I believe that when you give the negative thoughts a voice, YOUR VOICE, you make it so. The truth is you have no idea that you aren’t right for the role. The actor never has all the information. You have to assume you are absolutely right for the role and it only behooves you to think/believe/say it. When you are being asked to do something that you feel isn’t your forte (copy, comedy) then focus on the challenge and the effort you put into your preparation. When you are well prepared, you can bet you are leaps ahead of the others around you. Commercial actors often times (surprisingly) are not. Be proud of your prep! When actors you regularly see on huge commercials surround you, let it boost your confidence! You’ve made it! This is something to be excited about, not intimidated by. When you feel wonky about your partner, let that drive you to be even better. The difference between the two of you will be obvious and actors get callbacks all the time when their partner doesn’t. Don’t write off the audition! What a waste!!
Let’s face it; you can (easily) alter the negative thoughts by switching your perspective and focus. Plain and simple.
When you are anything from annoyed to enraged in the lobby, it only hurts YOU in the room. You want to let things roll every, single, time. You aren’t punishing the casting director or staff by being angry when you enter the room; you are sabotaging your own chances of booking the job. Meditate, giggle, listen to your French lessons… do whatever you do to stay upbeat and even. If madness is truly breaking out in the lobby, make a call to your agent after you killed your audition.
There can be negative talk at the avails/booking level:
This is my 14th avail without a booking.
- I’m jinxed.
- The universe is making sure I’m cut from every commercial I shoot.
- My commercials never run.
- I’m probably going to be downgraded.
I really believe you speak these things into reality. Imagine walking on set thinking/saying that you’ll probably be cut from the spot. With that sentiment exuding from your very being… how could it not possibly come true? Glum the Lilliputian (We’ll never make it! We’re doomed!) wouldn’t be cast in a commercial, and you’ll be sure to be released from your avail/cut/downgraded when you choose to channel the negative little guy. You cannot indulge in the negative. You simply cannot.
It’s not lost on me that actors may engage in negative talk to protect themselves. If you say out-loud that you don’t care (if you’re cut from the spot, your 1st choice agent passes, you haven’t had an audition in a month)… then perhaps it will curtail the embarrassment of your perceived failure. I totally get it. I’ve done it; everyone has. But just because the masses have been known to do it, doesn’t mean it’s even remotely a good idea.
How does one make the switch from mostly negative to mostly positive? I don’t know! I struggle with it too, and surely the solution is different for everyone. Being grateful certainly can’t hurt. If something is going well, be thankful… even if it isn’t the big goal in the sky. Be grateful that you had an audition, got a callback, was put on avail, that you were prepared, the session director said you did a great job, that you have an agent submitting you, that you did your best, that the jerk in the lobby didn’t get under your skin, that you booked the job even if it didn’t air, that you’re getting good feedback on your new headshots, that you are in a great improv group getting good exposure, that traffic wasn’t bad, that you had three auditions and you made all of them on time, etc. etc.
When you choose to walk on the sunny side of the industry, it will do nothing but benefit you.