10 More Things All Actors Can Do To Maximize Their Potential
Continuing with my previous post about how the well known "Ten Habits of Highly Successful People" apply to a life in a theatre, here are even more Habits of Highly Successful that I strongly believe apply to all creative professionals, not just actors.
1) Writing/journaling daily. While on tour, I found that bullet journaling and making "top 3" lists really helped me take ownership of what little free time I did have, and once I returned home when the pandemic hit, these same tactics allowed me to feel a sense of accomplishment in my days. For the first two months of quarantine, I actually did morning pages every single day as a way to still my mind, and I actually made some amazing self discoveries from doing them.
2) Treating food like fuel. This one is so vital for me because, just speaking from my own personal experience, weight can be a highly sensitive topic. When I was an Acting Apprentice at Williamstown Theatre Festival a few years ago, I heard countless actors discuss dieting for roles, and it always made food a source of anxiety for me. However, the reality is that when you're doing 8+ shows a week, it's essential to get enough fuel to maintain your energy levels.
3) Prioritizing time unplugged. In this day and age, I fervently believe that everyone needs time to disconnect from social media to stay sane. However, this can be particularly important in a highly competitive career like this one where it's so easy to compare one's career success to someone else's. Also, l find that taking a break from social media helps me to be more present in my own life, rather than scrutinizing my appearance or accomplishments against someone else's.
4) Just keep swimming. If I ever get a tattoo, I think it would be this phrase. What some people may not know about me is that my path to becoming a professional actress was not a typical one. I never had a lead in my high school shows, I got rejected from very BFA program I applied to, and I actually never got cast in a mainstage production in college. However, I've been fortunate enough to have worked fairly steadily after graduating college (minus during the Covid crisis) because I just didn't stop trying. While I wouldn't claim that this is necessarily the right choice for everyone, I do think that sometimes people give up on their dreams perhaps more quickly than they should because they're not getting the immediate results that they want. The reality is that in ANY highly competitive profession, success can take years to play out.
5) Listen to feedback. As much as it can be hard to take, feedback is the only way we can truly grow as artists and people. I actually keep all of the feedback I received during my undergrad years in a Google Doc that I review periodically before auditions. This is a way for me to ensure that I'm not making my art in a vaccum, and that I'm aware of my weaknesses. With that being said, there is certainly a difference between constructive and destructive criticism, and it's important to honestly assess if the person delivering the feedback has your best interests at heart.
6) Limit to do list to three things. When acting is my full time job, I typically have very little free time. Therefore, I find that limiting my to-do list helps me honestly assess which things on my to-do list are actually the most urgent priorities, and which can wait a few more days. I generally find three to be a good number for a variety of lists, such as top 3 audition tapes to make this week, top 3 career goals for the year, etc.
7) Do the biggest thing first. Another way of saying this is "eat the frog." I find that when I put off the most important and challenging task of the day, I tend to feel more anxious than when I attack it first thing in the morning.
8) Tap a nap. This is especially appropriate for days when you have evening shows that you need to conserve your energy for.
9) Keep moving. Regardless of the type of show, most acting projects involve movement to some degree. Therefore, I personally find that when I make movement a priority, I have significantly more energy on stage.
10) Always keep learning. In this day and age, the skillset an actor needs is constantly expanding. Therefore, it behooves all of us to try to use this time in quarantine to learn at least one new skill. This doesn't necessarily just have to be limited to acting techniques either. It can be a class in website design, marketing for the actor, guitar, etc. I also personally find that when I'm learning new things, I'm much happier.