How to Thrive as an Unemployed Actor 



TWITTER - @ DouglasTaurel

Facebook Page


Acting is the only profession in which you will always be in a constant state of unemployment, always,  you will always be looking for work. You book a TV series, a film, a play or a tour, and when that project ends and it will end at some point, you’ll need to find work again. This is the harsh reality of being an actor but you can not only survive in this constant state of unpredictability, you can thrive. 

The key is to having a goal, having something to aim at. During times of unemployment, goals support and protect us. Goals keeps you sharp and they opens doors for you but most importantly, they give you a purpose as an artist.  You need a goal that inspires you to do more, and to improve every single day. Even if it's only by a small percentage.  Be a better actor today than you were yesterday. Strive to do more today than what you did yesterday. 

Sitting around waiting to be booked on an acting job, or hoping that your agent or manager finds you work, is aimless and hopeless. And is what causes such large amounts of depression in actors.  You feel like you have no control over your artistic life but you do have control. You have so much more control than you think. 

Go to work on a monologue that needs to be sharpened, learn a new monologue, learn twenty monologues or create a project for yourself. Always be improving and creating every single day that you call yourself an actor. It is not only the best strategy, it is the only strategy you have. 

Improving your craft as an actor gives you a strong sense of purpose and direction, it invigorates you. It keeps you moving forward towards something a target, and that action will always open doors for you - and there’s a practical reason for this. 

When you improve, people will want to move closer to you and will want to present you with more opportunities.  It is why the phrase “success breads success” or “work begets work” hold such truth, because we're attracted to improvement.  It’s in our DNA as humans. But the opposite is also true, the less you improve the further people want to move away from you and less opportunities will be presented. And that too is in our DNA. 

If you improve every day in some way, even if it’s just by some incremental amount, you will grow exponentially as an actor. These small incremental moments of improvement compound over time and allow you to achieve things literally off the charts.  You have no idea how it can radically changes your life. Opportunities will come to you that you could have never even imagined.  

When I was a young actor,  I would work with a good friend and we both gave ourselves goals to learn 20 monologues. We would meet once a week, bring in a new monologue and give ourselves friendly notes on the pieces. Every week we both moved forward with our monologues.  

And there were days when one of us didn’t have the pieces fully memorized or crafted out but we kept meeting and inch by inch moving forward. By the end of one year, we each had close to twenty-two monologues. I can’t tell you the power and confidence that gave us as actors. It open doors for us and attracted opportunities to us. I truly believe that we have more control than we tend to believe as actors. 

I also wanted to create a project for myself as an actor. So every day, for five years I worked diligently on a play that I wanted to create.  I had many days when I didn’t progress as I wanted to.  It’s never a straight line that only goes up. It goes up, down, sideways, backward but over time, it is going up and consistently moving forward. I’ve taken that project inch by inch to the Kennedy Center, to the Library of Congress and could not even begin to tell you the opportunities it has presented me as an actor.  

Don’t let the distance from the goal crush your spirits. Break it down into small parts so you can have something to aim at every day. But make the aim high enough that it inspires you. Every day just do a tiny bit towards the goal, but every day you must move towards it. And never beat yourself if you don’t achieve 100 % of what you set out to do today but 50% is better than 0%, and 10% is still better than 0%.  It adds up so quickly. 

Make a schedule and keep to it, but write a schedule. Write your over all main goal down on every page of a notebook, diary or your calendar entry on our laptop. And every night before you go to bed, write down one step you wan to accomplish towards that goal. Just keep moving forward inch by inch, and you will be amazed what you can accomplish, it really is off the charts.  Your spirits will lift, your energy will grow and how your career will take the shape that you want it to take. 

Don’t compare yourself to anybody else. That is a recipe for failure.  You must only compare yourself to the you of yesterday. Anybody you compare yourself to is pointless. You don’t know all the detail of their lives, and you're making assumption about them in a complete vacuum. Your are the only measuring stick you need and should every use. 

Acting is hard work and it takes more than it gives you. There is no way around that reality.  Its’ why 90% of your friends you grew up with don’t act and why 90% of your families doesn’t act. It is hard, hard work. But you can find happiness and success if you have a goal to aim at, a sense of purpose to move forward with as an actor.  It’s how you thrive when you're unemployed, which is the one thing you can depend on as an actor.  But when you go to work on your goals, they will go to work on you. 

Are you better today than you were yesterday?  Did you do more today than you did yesterday? It is the only thing that matters.  


  1. Have a goal - sharpen your skills, create a project for yourself.

  2. Write it down.

  3. Break it down into small parts.

  4. Write it into your calendar.

  5. Everyday work inch by inch towards that goal. You will get it done!

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. 
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Connect with me on Social!



TWITTER - @ DouglasTaurel

Facebook Page