Sunday, April 11, 2010

Negativity and Your Acting Career

From the first time you mention to anyone that you would like to be an actor to conversing with fellow actors twenty years later, you are going to experience a lot of negativity. How you deal with it and how you let it affect you will have a lot to do with whether you are successful as an actor. Acting is essentially a negative career. Most of the work is done by a small coterie of already very successful people, and it is next to impossible to break into that circle of the elite. Oh, do those two previous sentences sound negative? Let's turn them around. Acting is a career like no other if you are lucky enough to break into the pool of the regularly employed actors. Is that a little better? It is diffiuclt to discuss the reality of professional acting without sounding a bit negative. As an aspiring actor, one of two things is going to happen when you run into negativity, such as when you tell someone you would like to be an actor and they say, " That's impossible. You can't do that." Either you will believe them and quit, or you will set out to prove them wrong and get involved as an actor in a play or film. The most effective thing you can do is to sort of ignore the comment and get busy acting. You don't let it affect you and you go right on becoming an actor. But negativity can pile up on you. The time it takes to get an agent, the time it take an agent to get you an audition, the time it takes to do enough auditions until you get a part, the time it takes to become recognized as being ready for bigger parts. These things can seem negative to some people. The successful actor has a personality component that just does not see the negativity. He ignores it and plows forward. Of course he uses every positive thing in his arsenel of attack on a career. Some aspiring actors become inactive in the face of negativity. It just makes them stop trying, and , of course, they never become actors. They are not meant to be actors or they would have the personality traits for success as actors. Much is said and written about developing the proper personality for success in acting. One source I just read suggests the aspiring actor study the personality traits of all successful people. Yeah, might help you to know what they are and try to emulate them. But I think a key factor is missing and that is that the successful individual is born with the personality traits to succeed in his chosen field. Acting requires some different personality traits than being a scientist. While there may be some common factors, there are always those specific traits for each field. I have heard a lot of motivational speakers and was once in a business that trived on motivational training. It really didn't work for me at all. I dropped our after a couple of years.
But I never dropped out of theatre and acting. Getting my PhD was easy for me,and acting was easy for me as well. I think that is due to my having the personality traits for success in academia and at least some of those needed for acting as well. But I was never cut out to be a businessman like my father who was very good at it. The point of this is that if you are the right person to become an actor. the negativity barriers that stop most people from succeeding will not affect you at all. You will just ignore them and go ahead and keep at it. Another kind of negativity you will run into as an actor is that which you hear in conversations about other actors, and about other people in the buisness. If you are going to succeed, give such negative comments little recognition. I found as an actor that almost every negative thing I heard about other people in the business turned out not to be true. What happens is that someone makes a mistake in his or her dealings with a person in the business and winds up with a negative result in those dealings. They blame the other person rather than themselves and so they have only bad things to say about that person. If you foster good relationships with everyone you meet in the business, you will avoid this second kind of negativity and give your self a better chance of success. If you find yourself in a conversation with someone and they start making negative comments about something or someone in the business, just walk away. You don't want to be seen being involved in such a conversation. Having talent is not enough for success in acting. Talent is cheap and plentiful. What is rare is the person with talent who also has the personality traits to remain positive in the face of negativity. Finally, the best thing anyone can do when faced with a negative situation, is to get to work making it a positive one. You spill your coffee, you clean it up. You are told you cannot act, you go and get cast in a show. But never allow anything negative make you stop and do nothing.

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