Get Over Yourself!

There is no such thing as absolute perfection, so get over yourself!

I think we can all agree that we humans aren’t perfect.
Especially when it came to auditions, I used to worry if I was the “best” or if I was “perfect for the part.” However, I’ve found this to be a useless exercise. First, what does “best” mean? MY best? My best for TODAY? The BEST person who auditioned? Was I exactly what they wanted? These questions usually only become bigger and more haunting if you don’t get the role. The answers often made me feel lacking and like I would never “arrive” at that pot at the end of the rainbow, called “perfection.”
In addition, I used to idolize those people who got cast all the time(or at least in my mind they did)! What did they have that I didn’t? A certain look? A specific education? More talent? More connections? This led to jealousy, a deadly vice. Time and again, it would destroy any hope or confidence I ever had.
Through a series of ups and (mostly) downs in auditioning this last year, I have come to a revolutionary (and quite professionally helpful) conclusion! There is no such thing as “perfect” and there is no use answering those questions! JUST DON’T DO IT! Helpful, right? I know that advice wouldn’t have helped me at the time. THIS is what did help me.
One of the biggest pieces of my journey last year was applying for the Ensemble Training Intensive with Freehold Studio in Seattle. I spent most of the Summer hoping and waiting to hear if I would be accepted into the 10 month program which would consume my life for its duration. I thought, “This is the answer to all my auditioning woes!” I was tired of not getting cast and thought this would be the solution: intense acting training, connections with Seattle theatre professionals, and a great addition to my resume! I was ecstatic when I WAS ACCEPTED! I was even more devastated when, two weeks later, the program was CANCELLED, due to lack of funds and participation. Back to square one! As I picked myself up off the floor, I tried to find meaning in the failure of this plan. This is what I learned.

  • Improve in (post performance) self-evaluation! You can’t go by what the auditors say, don’t say or whether or not you get cast. There are too many factors for any of that to be an accurate or helpful evaluation of how you did. Set a goal for yourself or pick one aspect of acting you are looking to improve and use that as your benchmark for your post-evaluation. If you met it, great! If you didn’t, you know what you need to work on for next time! (If you don’t see how or where you can improve, get over yourself. Everyone has areas in which they can improve. Seek the advice of a coach or director/actor friend you trust.) When you find areas for improvement, tell yourself….
  • “I may not be the best at ________, but I CAN get better!” I used to be so afraid of admitting a fault. If someone pointed out a flaw, I was crushed! As if, if I couldn’t do something now, I never would. FALSE. GET MORE TRAINING! There were all sorts of excuses I made for not getting more training, but it makes a HUGE difference. I thought a masters or intensive program would answer all my auditioning problems, which was false. However, desiring to improve and address certain areas was the best goal I could have made for myself. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to have picked one or two specific things on which I wanted to improve, pursued training, and noticed a difference in that area! And lastly…
  • Celebrate your successes AND your failures! Success is not just limited to booking a job; it’s any sort of acting breakthrough or achievement of a goal you set for yourself. YOU define success for yourself: going to that audition, taking that acting class, or approaching that agent who is just out of reach etc. And possibly most importantly, celebrate your failures. Why? Because you took a risk! If you take any sort of risk in life, you will fall. Your ultimate success is determined by how you handle that fall. Celebrate your effort and risk taking ability! How to celebrate? You choose. Have fun with it!

These revolutionary ideas have made this process a whole lot more enjoyable and is especially applicable as I make my transition into the LA market! Those people, who I thought had achieved perfection, were only working hard, never quitting, and personally investing in this career we call acting! Instead of beating myself up over missed opportunities and telling myself I will never join the actor elite, I have joined their ranks, not because I am at the top, but because I have decided to work hard, no matter what the cost or the result! The joy IS in the journey!

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To boldly go… where most actors have gone before!

I told you I’m moving to LA, right? I had this great situation worked out: a house with five people, three of them actors, two of whom were close friends from college; only $300/month rent (including food); cars to share/borrow; and an ideal location. Then all that fell through!
My friend called me last week to tell me they would no longer be living in the house…. as of Sunday. She was incredibly optimistic and exuded a peace which carried me over for a couple days — that is, until anxiety started setting in. It got worse every time a friend or acquaintance started inquiring as to the details of my move. Those questions only cemented the craziness of this plan (or lack thereof). “So, you’re flying to LA next week and you don’t have a car or a place to live.”  Starting to sweat, I squeak out, “Uh, yes.” I start asking myself, “Where AM I going to live? How much is that going to cost? Will I have enough money to make it? Should I postpone? Should I even go?”
All of a sudden, I recognize the familiar sound of change and doubts that come with it. Several years ago, I moved to Prague, Czech Republic with only two suitcases and a plan of teaching English: no contacts, no Czech, and no return ticket. Within three months, I had completed a certification course, landed an English teaching job and started acting for an educational theatre company. I spent a year and a half in Prague, during which I had some of the most amazing life experiences and met some life-long friends, including my future husband. If all that can come out of such uncertainty, surely I can brave a new city with a loving and supportive husband, where they speak the same language and I have friends around every corner. The thing is, in my experience, the most amazing things happen when you let go and step out into the unknown. Is LA daunting? Yes. Will a living situation work out? Yes. Will I find a way to get around? Yes. Will things turn out the way I expect? No. Is this adventure worth the risk? HELL, YES!