I was recently reminded of this quote from Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, when discussing how some actors tend to get caught in the trap of living in the frustration of how “hard” this industry is, and how disappointing the let-downs can be.
“My friend Tony Keppelman snapped me out if it by asking if I was going to quit. Hell, no! ‘Then be happy. You’re where you wanted to be, aren’t you? So you’re taking a few blows. That’s the price for being in the arena and not on the sidelines. Stop complaining and be grateful.'”
There are so many ways this industry can discourage you. But with a little twist of perspective, those same situations that bring you down can be celebrated for what they truly are–proof that you are in this, doing what you want to do! Here are some examples inspired by conversations I’ve had with actors recently, and one experience of my own:
I met with an agent, but they passed on me. Crap. Back to square one. Um, first of all, YOU HAD A MEETING WITH AN AGENT. You drew enough attention from your credits/headshot/social media presence/YouTube channel/sheer gumption to land a meeting. That’s a HUGE accomplishment. And… square one? You’re laying a foundation. If three months from now you have a few more credits, or they have an opening for someone of your type, you can contact them again and refer back to that initial meeting. You’re much more likely to get a 2nd meeting with some sort of history. And you were able to connect with them in person, which is so valuable.
I had an audition (or 50), but didn’t get the part, so I have nothing to show for it. –YOU HAD AN AUDITION. Awesome! That is our job. Never forget all of the work that goes into landing an audition in the first place. And you had the opportunity to connect with other creatives in person. You (hopefully) showed you are respectful and on time. You showed off how you make interesting character choices. The casting director now has a better idea of what YOU bring to the table, and they’ll call you in for something even more perfect for you. This isn’t a short-term connection- you’re building up a LIFE LONG career.
The opposite scenario: My friend is going out on 100 auditions a day, and I haven’t gone out in weeks. You know how this industry ebbs and flows. It may be you with those 100 auditions next week, and luckily for you, you have time THIS week to be working out, eating right, writing your webseries, taking coffee dates with like-minded creatives, and going on hikes to clear your mind. It can turn at any moment. Take the time you have now to prepare for it.
And this one, which happened to me personally: The film with big, A-list stars that I auditioned for (in a large, supporting role) but didn’t book went to Sundance, has a distribution deal, and is creating great buzz. I understand that it can be difficult not to look at the roles you didn’t get as “the one(s) that got away.” I had a wonderful audition last summer for a role I loved, but in the end I was too young and not quite the type they were looking for. It happens. But that hasn’t stopped me from cheering on the film as it lit on fire at Sundance and truly feeling happy for the actress who landed the gig. For me, the fact that I was up for such a great role is exciting—there is no way I would have gotten that audition even two years ago. I can see my career progressing, and that is thrilling, inspiring, and encouraging.
Wayne Gretzky said, ”You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” And if you take 100 shots and only make one? That may be all you need 🙂
We get to choose how we see things. So be happy, fellow actors, and don’t despair. You’re where you want to be—right in the thick of things!
Altered from an article that originally appeared on www.sarahjeagen.com