7 Ways to Become a Self-Sufficient Actor
There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking the feedback and opinions of others when it comes to choices. Seeking the approval of others though is where things begin to become destructive.
Below are seven easy way to ensure that all the work you are doing in your classes and career development is leading you towards the ultimate goal of emotional, intellectual, and creative independence. I am not suggesting that you ignore outside feedback, only that you never rely on it to thrive.
1. Break things down. Break every goal down into its component parts and create a plan for how you might go about achieving it, even if it’s preparing for a role. Allocating rehearsal time, mastering line-learning, conducting background research, and exploring the physical and emotional life of your character are all parts in need of careful individual consideration. Just as one doesn’t become Mr. Universe overnight without a plan, one does not become a full-time working actor by simply desiring it as an outcome.
2. Employ the +1 and 50/5 rules. What is the point attempting to take multiple risks simultaneously when one hasn’t yet mastered any one individually? Then spend at least 50 percent of your time focusing on the difficult parts (the risks) even if they comprise only 5 percent of your entire plan. If, by applying the same amount of effort as you do to your strengths, your weaknesses developed equally across the board then they wouldn’t be called weaknesses.
3. Make failure a daily goal. Seek out what could be and what might be in your work instead of what will be and what should be. In doing so, you as an actor, can make interesting, uncommon, and unique discoveries by investigating areas in which your “gut” may habitually tell you not to “waste time” exploring. The one common trait of all who would be considered successful in their chosen field is that they have failed more often than anyone else. Their success is in having taken more shots at the target than anyone else. To take risks, one must walk a fine line of almost daring oneself to fail, for to guard against the possibility of failure entirely is no risk at all.
4. Employ intelligent skepticism. To never question your teacher, parent, or authority figures is a predictable path to mediocrity and creative stagnation. Every creative, passionate, and innovative person I’ve ever admired in the world has made his or her own decisions based upon intelligent skepticism. The ability to test the voracity of an idea through questions and practical application (as opposed to simply disagreeing in order to prove intellectual dominance) is integral to all independent thinkers.
5. Acknowledge the input of others. It’s easy to focus so heavily on your own hard work that it leads to the erroneous belief that nobody else played any part in your ultimate success. Regardless of how self-sufficient you are, there are always people to thank and acknowledge for the support and advice they’ve given along the way. Do not mistake thanking others for dependence upon them. Independence is using what’s in one’s environment to stimulate growth, including teachers and mentors. Dependence is not being able to survive without them.
6. Use S.M.A.R.T. goals. This useful mnemonic acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals. These goals need little further explanation and can help professionals in any field in which they find themselves choosing to excel. If you as an actor were not given acting or career directions that fit these criteria, you would do well to adopt them independently. Ideally, by following this guide in the first place, outside feedback would be welcome, certainly, but by no means necessary.
7. Claim responsibility for both successes and failures. At the end of the day independent actors and thinkers take responsibility for their decisions. Whether you followed the instructions of someone else or not, it is you who made the decision to take the job or audition, follow the directions given, and produce the result that the world now sees in front of them.
If you desire to become a truly self-dependent creative being in the world, then accept that you have the power to make choices, but also the responsibility to accept the resulting consequences.