You have to protect your headspace.
We have a job to do. No excuses, not even broken hearts or loss. There’s nothing wrong with your auditions or work being affected by personal issues, but it isn’t effective, and we need to be consistently effective if we want to be consistently working. And we all know those actors who always seem to have an excuse for everything. It’s lame and doesn’t reflect well on them.
I don’t know how I was able to focus on work for much of the past year. I've been through the most emotionally challenging year of my adult life, and yet I still managed to have my best year as an actor, booking a dozen shows and almost as many commercials. It forced me to learn how to compartmentalize, take control of my brain and my instrument, and not be victimized by my personal struggles.
Perhaps you will be able to relate.
Emotional insulation. First off, when shit is going down, your phone is your enemy. While I should have been running lines in the car or prepping outside of an audition, it was too easy to be checking for that next text or email that had the potential to destroy me or send me to the moon.
Before work on set or an audition, turn your phone off or leave it in the car. Remove the potential for your hard work to be disrupted. He or she can wait until you’re done working for a response. We need to be strategic about how we use every moment before our job interview (audition) to set ourselves up for success so we can tell the story we came to tell.
Pummel your brain into submission. It must be nearly impossible for regular humans to escape from the emotional issues they’re dealing with. As actors, we always have and escape: our characters. Before I had to perform, whenever I started having thoughts about my personal drama, I immediately, and sometimes audibly, commanded myself, “No. Not right now. Focus on the work,” and shifted into the world of my character, immersing myself in their thoughts and concerns and world.
What an amazing blessing that we have these opportunities in which to temporarily lose ourselves. We can take refuge in the sanctuary of the story we are about tell. Few others get to have that.
Purge stress from your body. I had one of the worst Valentine’s Days in recorded history. I ended up in the ER with my first panic attack. That weekend was a huge shock to my system, and it had lasting effects.
If you’re a regular reader of mine, then you know I don’t see nerves as our enemy, and that you can overcome their effects with preparation. But following the events of Valentine’s Day, I found myself getting more nervous than I had ever experienced for a couple of auditions. I still did what I wanted to do in the room, but at one audition in particular, when I got into my car moments after leaving the room, I felt shockwaves of those nerves shooting down my spinal cord and attacking my lower back. It was painful. I’d never felt anything like that before.
So I got myself in for a two-hour massage with my regular girl, and she dug in and pushed that stress out of my muscles. And I drank tons of water and flushed that stress down the damn drain, and felt refreshed.
Expression isn’t optional, it’s mandatory. I saved this one for last because it’s made the most important impact on being able to protect my headspace: my friends. I’m so blessed to have a large community of beloved friends that gave me a safe space to talk about what I was going through. Prior to this time, I wasn’t a dramatic person. Most would have said I was the most even-keeled, stable guy they knew.
But my friends showed me patience and took an interest in my ordeals, offered advice, and reminded me when my conduct was unbecoming, but never made me feel judged for making mistakes. If you’re lucky enough to have friends like I do, go to them and give them a chance to be there for you.
If we don’t express the pain and stress and frustration, it eats away at you from inside until one day it manifests in weird neurosis and ticks and OCDs.
So be good to yourselves. Protect your thoughts, hearts, and instruments so you can weather the inevitable storms of life while still being legendary in the room and on set. Much love to you all.
- Apr 25, 2018 5 Risks of Acting in Non-Union Commercials Apr 25, 2018
- Aug 17, 2017 How to Take Full Advantage of Your SAG-AFTRA Membership Aug 17, 2017
- May 30, 2017 3 Essentials for Brilliant Work May 30, 2017
- Feb 9, 2017 Stop Apologizing Feb 9, 2017
- Jan 18, 2017 Why Good Slates Matter Jan 18, 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- Sep 9, 2016 2 L.A. Session Directors on What Actors Need to Know Sep 9, 2016
- Jun 6, 2016 We’re Not Evolved to Handle Acting Well Jun 6, 2016
- May 31, 2016 3 Ways Stage Training Adversely Affects On-Camera Actors May 31, 2016
- Apr 14, 2016 4 Ways for Working Actors to Deal With Emotional Stress Apr 14, 2016
- Dec 1, 2015 How to Handle Unwanted Romantic Advances From Industry Pros Dec 1, 2015
- Nov 11, 2015 Stop Calling It Rejection Nov 11, 2015
- Oct 7, 2015 5 Universal Mistakes I See Actors Make Oct 7, 2015
- Sep 29, 2015 The Unsung Heroes of Casting: Cori-Anne Greenhouse Sep 29, 2015
- Aug 31, 2015 Why Acting Is and Needs to Be Fun Aug 31, 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 12, 2015 Being a ‘Good’ Actor Isn’t Good Enough May 12, 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- Nov 28, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 3 Nov 28, 2014
- Nov 26, 2014 7 Steps Toward Better Headshots Nov 26, 2014
- Nov 12, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 2 Nov 12, 2014
- Nov 5, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 1 Nov 5, 2014
- Oct 13, 2014 Why Actors Must Take Care of Their Bodies Oct 13, 2014
- Oct 12, 2014 Getting Your ‘Look’ Right, Part 2: Matching Your Essence to Your Marketing Oct 12, 2014
- Oct 12, 2014 Getting Your ‘Look’ Right, Part 1: Identifying Your Essence Oct 12, 2014
- Oct 6, 2014 We Are Each Other’s Greatest Resource Oct 6, 2014
- Sep 29, 2014 An Ode to Actors Everywhere Sep 29, 2014
- Sep 23, 2014 A 4-Step Guide for Success in L.A., Part 2 Sep 23, 2014
- Sep 16, 2014 A 4-Step Guide for Success in L.A., Part 1 Sep 16, 2014
- Sep 9, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 3: 3 More Things You Shouldn’t Tolerate in Acting Class Sep 9, 2014
- Sep 2, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 2: 3 Things You Shouldn’t Tolerate in Acting Class Sep 2, 2014
- Aug 25, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 1: Are You in Class for the Right Reasons? Aug 25, 2014
- Aug 18, 2014 The 6 (Often Thankless) Jobs in Commercial Casting Aug 18, 2014
- Aug 11, 2014 You Are Enough: Why You Need to Just Be Yourself in Commercial Auditions Aug 11, 2014