Why do some people succeed in the acting world when others do not? Is it always down to talent or do you find that, sometimes, there are actors who have completed three years at prestigious drama schools and are outstandingly talented, who are stuck in a rut, or even give up, while a new actor with minimal training and mediocre skill is flying to the top?
This does sometimes happen! Why? Have you ever watched a TV series or soap and thought to yourself “There are much more talented actors out there, how did they book the job? They must be so lucky!”
No! They are not lucky.
Being successful has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with attitude. To stop being ordinary, we need to do things that ordinary people don’t do and think in a way that sets us apart from the rest. Do we need talent? Yes! But having talent alone isn’t enough. We need to be the kind of people that others will want to work with and the sort of attitude that means success is the only option, regardless of how many knock backs we face on the way.
Successful actors have certain qualities in common. If we want to follow their path, we need to mimic their behaviours consistently.
Here are some things that successful actors do differently.
They are passionate about acting
In an industry where there are far more actors than there are jobs, it is essential for us to have passion for our craft. Those that are in it for fame, fortune or whatever else will not last long term- they tend to get bored and give up when they realise how hard they actually have to work.
They have a lot of strength and determination
Not many people can take rejection after rejection, brush it off and carry on but that is exactly what actors constantly need to do. It takes strength and determination to keep going after each knock back, it takes guts to put ourselves out there as actors to be critiqued by the public and it takes courage to keep stepping out of our comfort zones to move forward.
As the famous saying goes, it takes ten years to become an overnight success. This is real life, not a fairy tale, we are highly unlikely to be spotted by Steven Spielberg when we’re at Tesco’s doing the weekly shop. It will not happen overnight. It takes a long time to build relationships and a good reputation in the industry. As with other jobs, we start at the bottom and work our way up.
If we don’t believe in ourselves then why should others believe in us? We have to believe in our skills and believe in our ability to succeed. Our confidence needs to be stronger than our fear for us to be able to put ourselves out there without fear of failure, and of people’s opinions holding us back. We need confidence to be able to say yes to new challenges, and no to the things that won’t benefit us. It’s confidence that will keep us moving forward and testing our limits.
Positive actors see the best in everything and as a result, are happier and more motivated. Instead of dwelling on problems, they think of a way around them.
The actors who have a positive attitude make others around them feel good- it is contagious! Who would you rather be with on set- the actor who is moaning that they are tired, cold, hungry and bored or the actor who is having a great time despite being up at 4am and being outside all day in the middle of November?
Are you able to resist short term temptations for long term gain?
You’ve had a hard day at work all you feel like doing is crashing in front of the TV. Do you still go to your acting class?
You had set aside an evening to start preparing your role in a film you have been cast in but a friend you haven’t seen in months calls to invite you to the pub for a few drinks. Do you go?
After a crazy few weeks, you are really looking forward to a day off tomorrow and have planned a day of relaxation. Your agent calls you to tell you that you’re booked in for a commercial audition, 4 hours away, at 9am that day. Do you go?
It’s easy to talk ourselves out of doing something we don’t feel like doing at that particular time but to get ahead, we need to be consistent with our efforts.
They get on well with people
I have known many instances where an actor fit a role perfectly but wasn’t chosen because they weren’t easy to get on with. It’s simple- nobody wants to work with a diva or someone who is argumentative, and word does get around.
They look after their bodies
Healthy body, healthy mind. Enough said.
They realise that there is always more to learn
We should always be striving to learn more and to improve. Why settle for mediocrity when we can continue learning to be the best we can possibly be?
They follow instruction well
Follow instruction carefully. During a scene, on set, at an audition, when applying for jobs… All of the time! It shows professionalism and that we will be easy to work with.
We are in control of our own futures- don’t rely on anybody else. Haven’t booked a job for a while? Instead of blaming your agent/the industry/producers/your pet dog, take a look at what you could be doing to help yourself. Do you need new headshots? Are your CV’s and online profiles up to date? Are you applying for your own work? Networking?
Take control of your future, be consistent with the above and see how your career changes for the better. Do what others refuse to do and that’s what will give you the edge!