Mindset

3 Tips for Overcoming Bitterness

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Letting go of trying to be in control and focusing on enjoying the process is the key to allowing us to feel successful, happy, and helping us overcome the bitter actor syndrome. This is true in an audition, with a project, with our careers, and even with our lives. Not being focussed on a specific result and instead focusing on taking action allows us to be relaxed and happier as actors. The more relaxed and happier you are as an actor, the more creative you will be in your work, leading to more success in your career. 

It’s really hard work trying to impress other people, especially when we usually have no idea what it is they want in the first place. The irony is, they, who we are auditioning for, usually don’t know what they want until they see it. Second-guessing what a casting director, director, or producer wants is ultimately pointless. Trying to impress others will lead to resentment and bitterness. 

Natalie Roy, co-founder of C.R.E.A.T.E., a workshop series designed to break artists free of limiting beliefs, said, “You are entitled to your actions but not entitled to the fruits of those actions. Can you place the value in the action? Can you say, I took this action because I’m the kind of person who enjoys taking action. We become bitter because we want control and we expect a specific result.” The bitterness comes when the desired result does not follow the action.

When we let go and only focus on the action that we are taking for our careers, not only do we overcome being bitter, but we become fulfilled as artists. Being fulfilled leads to us feeling more confident. You enter your audition far more open, creative, and present when you are fulfilled.

The actor that we most want to hang around with and who casting directors enjoy calling in is that actor who is relaxed and isn’t trying to impress because he/she is confident that he or she is enough. He/she is in the room to inspire us with his/her art. We love being around people who are confident, relaxed, and who inspire us. People ultimately want to be inspired; it touches who we are as artist and gives us power. 

So, how do we become that person? By letting go. Letting go of that control stops us from taking things so personally and stops that voice in our head that tells us that we are being rejected. Rejection is something that we actors make up. It’s not actually really true. As Roy puts it, “When you don’t get an audition, you’re not actually being rejected. The industry is not saying something is wrong with you. What they are saying is that you are not right for this project.” By understanding all of this, we come across more confident. 

What all of this means is that we have to have a leap of faith of letting go and trusting that what we do is enough—a leap of faith that your preparation for the audition and role is enough, that you are in the right place for your career.

A few strong suggestions to help you to let go, be happy, and overcome being bitter. 

1. Meditate. Each morning for three-to-five minutes before you start your day (and definitely before you check your phone), sit quietly and tell yourself two or three great things for which you are currently grateful. One minute of mediation can be extremely powerful in starting your day in positive way. 

2. Visualize. Spend a minute telling yourself what an amazing audition or day you are going to have. Visualize that your day will go exactly that way you want to go and give thanks that it did. You are sending out positive waves into the world that will reverberate positive waves back. 

3. Be around positive people. Surround yourself with people who are goal-oriented, mature, optimistic, kind, and who celebrate and validate you. This includes your agent, your manager, and your acting teacher. You are an average of the people you with whom you surround yourself.

Move Your Career Forward with Readings

Getting involved and saying yes to readings is one thing you can do right now to help boost your acting career. This is not new wisdom, but something that had taken me some time to fully understand and take to heart—despite hearing it a long time ago from my good friend and mentor Brian O’Neil.

Going to readings and saying yes to a reading, no matter how small, gets you working. However, more importantly, it helps introduce your craft to other artists who might want to use you for one of their projects or a friend’s project. As the old saying goes “Work begets work!” This is really how you start building your résumé, your networks, and your career.
If you are ever find yourself thinking that a reading at someone’s apartment or a small theater in New Jersey is a waste of time, think again. It is not! In our business, there is absolutely nothing that is a waste of time; you never know what will open what door for you.
For my own career, I got involved with a small theater group many years ago by going to its readings. I then wrote to the director and let him know that if I could ever take part in one of the readings, I would love to be considered. He said yes and pulled me into a small reading at the his apartment. I took the opportunity seriously and worked hard on the role. The next invitation was to another project by the director—but this time it was at Cherry Lane Theatre. From this project, I have been invited onto other projects many times by actors and directors in the Company. One of the producers in the company referred me to a writer who had a project that was being produced at Playwrights Horizon and asked if I would take a small part in the project. And if I had the time and space, I’d share countless other opportunities that have boosted my career by going and saying yes to readings.
Here are two tips to help you get involved in readings and boost your career.
1. Write to the directors you have worked with or would like to work with. Make sure you send a sincere email saying that you would love to take part and help them with any small role in one of their upcoming readings. Why do you want to say small? I believe that this implies that you don’t want to be the star of their project, but simply that you want to work as an actor and to help them. You are showing them that you understand your place in the pecking order. Believe me, you will get offered leads later.
2. If you are in a small market or just starting out, set up your own readings and invite actors and directors to them. I can guarantee you that another project will come from this event and it will help to grow your career.
Remember, this is what luck is—being ready and putting yourself out there so that when opportunity comes knocking, you are the lucky one.
“The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself” - Douglas MacArthurRead more of my Backstage ArticlesRead more on How to Achieve More with Less!Read more about me on IMDB

How to Gain More Confidence


Confidence can feel like such an elusive feeling: “I want to be and feel more confident,” “If only I could have more confidence I would be able to do x and y,” or “If I could just stop feeling so scared I would try x and y.” Feeling confident is so critical for us as actors, for every aspect of our careers, but especially during agent interviews and auditions. 
Your physical posture determines how you feel, how you talk to yourself (either positively or negatively), but more importantly, how the world relates to you and ultimately, how your life unfolds. 
When we stand upright, shoulders back and with our heads held up high—what psychologists call a power pose—we release more testosterone (true for both men and women). Testosterone is the hormone that regulates dominance and assertiveness. When we have our heads down and our shoulders rounded such as in a hunch position, we release more cortisol, the stress hormone.
Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and associate professor at Harvard Business School, performed an experiment where subjects adopted either a high or low power pose in a real-world situation applying for a job. Subjects who adopted high power poses before the interview not only were chosen as viable candidates, but were also evaluated much more positively overall.  Low power posers were judged as not suitable.
Even more fascinating was that people who put themselves in power poses for two minutes had an increase in testosterone of 20 percent, a decrease in cortisol of 20 percent and 86 percent of the group was more likely to take risks. The group that took a low power pose for two minutes showed a decrease in testosterone of 10 percent and an increase in cortisol of 15 percent, and only 60 percent of the group were likely to take risks.
Based on this, I offer two tips that will increase your confidence:
1. When you go to a meeting or an audition, don’t check your cell phone or iPad. Notice the body position you are in when you’re checking your devices: rounded shoulders, bent head. You are releasing more cortisol and placing yourself in a weaker position!
2. Go into the meeting with your chin high and your chest up as if you had a cape on like a super hero, and with a genuine smile. Hold this position for at least two minutes before you go in. Notice not only how confident you begin to feel but also how others respond to you. Put yourself in a stronger position!

The body changes the mind, the mind changes behavior, behavior changes outcomes.” —Amy Cuddy 










8 Ways for Actors to Employ a Navy SEAL Mindset

Mindset for Actors

8 Ways for Actors to Employ a Navy SEAL Mindset

I personally believe that as an actor, you have to think like a Navy SEAL. You have to have sharp mental focus and not be knocked off your dreams or your mission by anybody or anything.
Navy SEALs are the most well-trained special force in the world. In order for you to become a Navy SEAL you must endure six months of torturous runs, swims, no sleep, and tremendous amounts of physical and mental harassment around the clock. You are harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL. The fail rate is around 80 percent. 
And while becoming a Navy SEAL may seem completely unrelated to our worlds as actors and artists, the lessons of surviving in an environment of continued stress, chaos, failure, and hardships are related. If we can learn to think like a Navy SEAL when we are faced with obstacles, we too can become extraordinary and accomplish great things. 
Here are eight lessons every SEAL learns in training that can help you in your career.
1. Always make your bed. By making your bed you complete the first task of the day and it gives you confidence to complete another task and another. In acting, especially when we are so often working alone, we need to complete the small tasks in our day to give us confidence and energy to continue with the rest.

An Actors Job is to Practice!

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Actors Job is to Practice

This past weekend I saw a film that inspired me and re-enforced my beliefs as an actor. The movie is "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1772925/ The film centers around a Japanese word Shokunin - an individual who embodies the artisan spirit of the relentless pursuit of perfection through his craft. It is the craftsman’s spirit.

In order to be the best in your field, to reach the top of your craft, you MUST practice, practice and practice so more. "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice." Once you decide on your occupation, you have to immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work and never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skills as an actor and let that be the secret to your success.

Since I have grown more experienced as an actor, the more I practice, the more I keep coming back to simplest of choices to help me obtain success in my work. What I want in the scene and Why I want it? Why is that so important to my character?  

A Quote from the film- Ultimate simplicity leads to Purity. 

And simplicity comes only from practice. Personally, for me, I have noticed that when I work on monologues three to four times a month and work on two or three scenes in front of the camera a month, I book more work and feel more comfortable in front of auditors and in the audition room. When I practice more, I get faster with my craft. I am able to learn my lines quicker and I am able to see my character's wants and needs more easily.

Dancers practice, singers sing, artist paint and actors also need to practice. You can never practice enough and never be satisfied. Always trying to look ahead and improve your skills. I believe it was casting director Jay Binger in the film "Every Little Step" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0977648/ who said, the way you get to Broadway is by giving a Broadway audition!

Always, look ahead and about yourself and try to improv yourself. Love your craft so much, that becomes the goal. The spirit of Shokunin!


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