Commercial actors should never entertain paranoid thoughts.
I usually try to sprinkle a bit more sugar coating than that…but I thought the direct wording would further my cause. Thick skin may be the most important tool you have in the marathon that is an acting pursuit. You can possess all the talent in the world, with the absolute perfect look…but if you quit out of misery and paranoia, does it matter? You can’t take anything personally. You all face staggering odds and terrible unemployment statistics. The product you are selling is YOU which makes the mounds of rejection all the harder to handle. You are courageous people and you need to clothe yourself in that courage every single day. Don’t let your insecurity–which easily becomes paranoia–get the best of you.
Don’t worry, from here on out I’ll be chock full of good news. Because I’m here to put to rest all of the paranoid thoughts I hear said out loud ALL the time.
Scenario #1: A casting director has called you in multiple times. You’ve gotten a callback more often than not and you were put “on avail” on the last job and you haven’t been called in by that office since. A paranoid conclusion: The office doesn’t like you anymore. You’ve done something wrong. You’ll never be called in again. What’s likely going on? They haven’t been casting actors in your category. They’ve been seeing kids, senior citizens and santa claus (and you are none of those). Maybe the person who did the prep work on the jobs moved to a different office or opened their own casting company. You’ll still be called in by them wherever they are and you’ll need to get to know the new person who is now prepping the jobs. If you have the lingering feeling that you’ve done something wrong (because you have and you know you have), then apologize. We all make mistakes. Whatever the explanation, it isn’t that they suddenly don’t like you or instantaneously forgot you. That’s the paranoid thought to ditch immediately.
Scenario #2: An actor friend has had a heck of a lot of auditions this week, and you’ve had none. A paranoid conclusion: Their career is taking off and your career is over. What is more likely going on? The actor(s) you are comparing yourself to is not like you…you are not the same gender, race, age range, type, union status. You really should stay away from comparing yourself to other actors, unless they really are your commercial twin. Really. What if they ARE your commercial twin? Then DO something about it. Lamenting does nothing. Take ACTION!
Scenario #3: Everyone in the callback room was on their computer, eating, not paying attention, and there was no re-direct. A paranoid conclusion: You were uninteresting and gave a terrible performance. What’s likely happening? The non-decision makers are trying to secure a location, the lunch break disappeared because the session was running behind, and the director saw exactly what he/she needed to see and time is of the essence. It’s so common, I can’t begin to tell you. Would you rather be welcomed, have everyone’s undivided attention, etc. Yes, of course. But it’s not personal. It’s just how it goes a lot of the time. Let it go and be grateful for the opportunity. Being paranoid doesn’t serve you.
Scenario #4: You had a bad partner. Paranoid conclusion: You won’t get a callback/get the job. More likely? You’ll get a callback/book the job if you are right and terrific for the spot. A bad partner never means you are doomed. One person in a group of two or more gets a callback/books a job all the time. It’s not an all or nothing thing.
Scenario #5: You haven’t booked anything. Paranoid conclusion: Your agent is going to drop you. More likely scenario: If you have done everything they’ve asked you to do, confirm auditions, don’t flake, are an A+ star well-behaved actor, they won’t drop you. Hopefully they will discuss and strategize about what you could be doing better. If you aren’t doing your part, then get to it! And…there are some instances when everyone is doing their part but the relationship just isn’t a match. Maybe they will drop you, maybe you will leave them. It’s a normal part of business–and it is ok. Being paranoid about it isn’t. In this scenario, it’s likely things will be better for you after the breakup.
Let’s face it. Your paranoid thoughts aren’t helpful. Even when some paranoid thoughts have proven to be true (they weren’t interested in your callback performance and you didn’t book the job) being paranoid about it doesn’t help. Your paranoid, aka NEGATIVE, thoughts don’t help you, and I’m here to tell you they actually hurt you. The kicker is, they don’t change anything. They just turn you into a ball of (take your pick) misery, bitterness, gloom…you get my point. Not exactly the attributes of people you see on commercials. Ditch the paranoia and channel the excess energy (because it takes a lot of energy to be paranoid) into doing positive, proactive things for your career.