by Casting Director, Laurie Records
…underestimate the power the mind plays in one’s career, followed by the power of action.
Feeling powerless is tough in all aspects of life. If I had a dime for every time I heard an actor expressing frustration over feeling powerless (whether it’s named it as such, or not) let’s just say I’d be well on my way to a life of smoking cigars in Barcelona. The plight of the “powerless actor” is very real. Both newbies and veterans are vulnerable to this feeling. Vets can struggle when finding themselves in a slump (yes, this happens to everyone…everyone) or when released from an avail… for the umpteenth time. Newbies can be overwhelmed with the feeling of powerlessness merely trying to “break in;” getting an agent, booking, into the union, or even an audition.
I consistently preach the notion that actors have more power than they believe. Most often, the conversation is about practical ways of being proactive in one’s career. At this point in time, I’d like to ponder a slightly different angle.
Commercial actors should never underestimate the power of the mind/the power of action.
For those of you I didn’t already lose by getting all cuckoo kumbaya… Hi. Thanks for staying.
*The power of the mind*
In commercial land, many more times than not, the clients are looking to hire the nice, the likeable, the “aspirational.” Watch a handful of commercials. There aren’t a whole lot of bitter, evil roles to be filled, are there? For the most part advertisers stay in the warm and approachable realm to sell products.
Now, here’s where the mind comes in. There is little debate over the importance of walking into the audition room with confidence and an upbeat, positive attitude. I would venture to take it one gigantic step further… the goal of the actor should be to live life in confidence with a positive outlook. I don’t believe even the most skilled actor will be entirely successful in entering the room with positive confidence when they have spent the previous hours, days, or months with bitterness, jealousy or desperation. Surely you have heard the expression that the camera can “read desperation.” I’m here to tell you that it’s true. I can’t explain it exactly, and for that I’m sorry… but true, it is. It also is applicable for bitterness and general unhappiness, I’d say. Desperate, bitter, unhappy people don’t book commercials. Or sign with new agents, or… or… or…
Am I saying that to be a successful actor, you need to be a generally positive, hopeful, content person? Yes. Yes I am. The power of the mind is incredibly influential in your commercial success (and likely theatrical, but I’m not officially weighing in on that. Maybe bitter people land bitter TV roles, I couldn’t tell you) depending on which way your mind leans. Positive or negative.
What I am suggesting is a ridiculously tall order. I know this. And I have no one recommendation of how to achieve a general positive confidence in life, vs. bitter desperation. Different solutions are for different people. You know yourself better than anyone, and I leave it up to you. But I do believe that achieving a general level of joy and contentment will greatly help your acting career.
*The power of action*
I’ve babbled on so long about the mind that I’ll keep it short and sweet with the action portion of the program…
Making plans for world domination with no action = nothing.
Now, of course I kid, because that’s my style. But the truth is: you can take your glorious, positive and confident self (YAY power of the mind!) and make brilliant plans until the cows come home about how to achieve great success in your acting career, but if you never take action, it will never happen. You logically know this already, but surely the reminder is not unnecessary.
I am not a fan of taking action for action’s sake. While there is great power in action, I lament the waste of time and energy in doing something to make youfeel like you’re taking action, when in fact, it’s busy work. Stop doing things to make yourself feel like an active participant in your career and in exchange do something effective in furthering your career. Action for action’s sake is no good. Period. Evaluate and work smart.
The power of action is for you, working actors! No matter how high up the acting ladder, no matter how successful you are… action is necessary, if only (and it won’t be only) for the purpose of keeping your mind healthy. Remember the power of the mind is number one. The action(s) a “successful” actor takes in their career would certainly be different than the action(s) of a new or struggling actor. Steer clear of bitter, jealous, desperate actor-land no matter what level you are, by taking action. Action is the cure; action is the preventative medicine.
The industry is always changing and you are always changing. This means you are (or should be) in a constant state of problem solving. Let your actions be the solutions to your “problems.” If you have the belief that booking commercial work is a numbers game or through random luck… a random booking here and there is likely the best you will do. Your belief that booking a commercial is a crapshoot will make it so. When you know there is a rhyme and reason to booking commercials and start to evaluate, analyze, and educate, you will take action to remedy the areas where you are falling short in the process. Your headshots, your technique, incorrect “typing,” change of category, your haircut/weight change, poor wardrobe choices… and so, so, so much more can lead to a change in the amount of auditions/bookings you get. Problem solve and do something… and watch the power of action work for you.
Laurie Records, Casting Director