Key Mindsets for Success - Part 1: Patience
An acting career can test your patience on both a daily basis - waiting for the phone to ring - and over months and years as you try to get to that next level. Here, the industry experts interviewed for The Actor's Career Bible offer some inspiration, encouraging you to develop patience as a key mindset for success.
From the outset of your career patience with your progress is a necessary trait. As one career coach emphasises, 'things won't happen as quickly as you think they will, and actors can be heavily demoralised by this. But you are doing the right things! It just takes longer than you realise.' A successful, seasoned actor also encourages actors to take a long-term view: 'It's really important to know that early "failure" - not being immediately successful and facing some struggles - is a possibility. (An acting career) isn't about the next two years, or the next three years ... it's about the next 45 years, please god!'
Stretches of unemployment will of course test your patience. Some perspective can help here, and it's useful to remind yourself that slower periods are an occupational hazard, rather than something just afflicting you. As one leading agent highlights, ‘(periods of unemployment) are inevitable. Even our actors who are doing really well, who are leading names, go through several months where they don’t work.’ Being ready for future periods of unemployment - rather than hoping you'll be lucky - means you can take steps to minimise any negative impact.
Developing ease with the ups and downs of the profession will allow you to enjoy the 'journey', as one actor puts it. A career coach explains, 'you don't have much autonomy over your careers, so you need to embrace the excitement of uncertainty,' with an experienced actor echoing this: 'Embrace the madness! Don't see (quiet periods) as nothing on the horizon. Instead think, anything can happen!' Their advice is to 'work hard for everything and see how it shakes out. There are no mistakes. You never know what anything will lead to. Things that appear to be terrible or great may turn out to be the opposite. That workshop that was seemingly dead-end somehow leads to you developing it into amazing work five years later.'
Key to developing patience is maintaining your belief: 'There is a place for every good quality actor, and there will be opportunities at some point,' a leading agent reassures, while an experienced casting director says, 'if you're good enough - or make yourself good enough - then you will get those opportunities. You might not become a film star but you can become a rock-solid working actor.' An agent's assistant perhaps best describes the mindsets to work towards: 'You've got to be confident that it's what you want to do and that you can do it, even at rock-bottom points. Confidence in a realistic way: knowing what you are good at, and that if you work in a certain way you can get results.'
This is an adapted extract from The Actor's Carer Bible book, available now.