3 Tips for Overcoming Bitterness



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.

Why an Actor Absolutely, Positively Needs a Mentor



Imagine if you had Warren Buffet help you become wealthy beyond your wildest dreams, or Kevin Spacey sharing his insights with you on how to best approach a scene. Or perhaps Oprah Winfrey explaining how to conduct a successful interview. This is what a mentor can do for you; working with a mentor can transform your life. 

A mentor is that one person who can guide you, help you, take you under his or her wing, and nurture your career quest. Mentoring gives us a roadmap of the actions our successful counterparts have done so that we can follow them on their path. Success leaves clues, and if you look to learn from those who are ahead of you, you can pick up on those clues. You can learn from a mentor’s mistakes and avoid making them yourself. A mentor may notice potential in you that you might not see in yourself.   

When I spoke to casting director and coach Jen Rudolph of the Actor’s Green Room regarding the value of actors working with a mentor, she said, “It’s important for actors to work with a mentor because they can help you understand how your fears or beliefs might be holding you back. They take you under their wing and coach you. A lot of times what holds us back is our own stuff. A mentor can help you work through that and give you an understanding about how the business works, or what specific things you probably need to do to help yourself.” She explained to me that when she works with actors, she tries to give them a sense of empowerment more than anything else. She tries to help them find direction versus feeling lost not knowing what to do.

Look for mentors not only in a person you can talk to, but also look for stories about how those you respect became successful. I always think of Sylvester Stallone as someone who is extremely successful, and I use him as a mentor in my life. As a young actor, everyone told him to quit because of how he spoke. So what did he do? He wrote “Rocky.” Other actors I look to as mentors are those who I relate to, like Vin Diesel, Ed Burns and John Liguizamo—all who created their own paths. And so I copied them by writing and producing my own solo show, and I am now working on turning that successful show into a film. 

My personal belief is that the easiest way to find a mentor is through books. The most famous and successful people in the world can be in your house.  Books contain a treasure trove of tips and suggestions on how to achieve success in your life. Books are the CliffsNotes of the most successful people in the world. You may have to rewire your brain so that you see books as a golden opportunity to gain incredible knowledge. Don’t think of books as a one-time event, read it over and over to absorb the knowledge. There is no rule on how fast you need to read them. You set your own pace. Make notes in the margins and refer back to them often.

If you’re looking for a mentor of your own, here are four places to start: 

  1. Write to someone who is at least five or 10 times ahead of you in the field in which you are trying to gain knowledge and ask them to be your mentor. They have a whole different network of contacts and connections that you don’t.
  2. Work with a coach or a consultant to help you understand things about the business on which you don’t have a grasp. Working with a coach as a mentor can help you reach the next level of your career faster. 
  3. Persevere. You must persevere in your search for a mentor. You must persevere to get success in your life. If you write somebody and they don’t answer, don’t give up so easy. Keep at it. Success comes to those who are willing to persevere.
  4. Read a book a week. You don’t have to finish the book in a week but you should be reading a book a week on something that will help you improve your life. Books are a treasure trove of information and advice. 

Showbusiness can be tough and confusing to navigate. Having someone to guide you is so critical!Posted by Backstage on Thursday, February 11, 2016


Read How to Make an Interesting Choice in a Scene 

TED Talk by Derek Sivers

If you have not read or listen to Derek Sivers, I strongly suggest that you do. Think of him as a philosopher-king programmer and a master teacher. Originally a professional musician and circus clown, Derek created CD Baby in 1998. It became the largest seller of independent music online, with $100 million in sales for 150,000 musicians. He also has a website where you can read his notes on some of his favorite books.

Derek Sivers: Weird, or just different?

Bruce Lee, Sylvester Stallone & Arnold Schwarzenegger's Rules of Success

I have many inspirational individuals who I look up to but three of my favorite that inspire me the most are Bruce Lee, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
We know them now as legends today but there was a time that everyone told them no and no one believed in them. Their determination and believe in themselves took them to where they are now and how we view them today.
Bruce Lee's T op 10 Rules for Success
1. Demonstrate Impressively
2. Express Your Self
3. Have Faith in Yourself
4. Exploit Opportunity
5. Be Confident
6. Be Like Water
7. Create Your Art
8. Commit Fearlessly
9. Don't think, Feel
10. Take on the Best
Sylvester Stallone's Top 10 Rules for Success
1. No Means yes
2. Listen to Your Gut
3. Improvise
4. Don't Give up, Keep Talking
5. Get it Done
6. Believe in Yourself
7. Find Your Process
8. Do One Thing Right
9. You Only Learn Through Failure
10. Keep Moving Forward.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's Top 10 Rules for Success
1. Have a Clear Goal
2. Think Big
3. Turn Your Liabilities into Assets
4. Ignore the Littleton
5. Work your Butt Off
6. Make the World a Better Place
7. Don't be Realistic
8. Don't be Afraid to Fail
9. Find a Model of Success
10. Believe in Yourself

Creating Your Solo Show


It felt so good to finally get my solo show out of my head and onto the stage. What an AWESOME feeling! On Tuesday the 24th of July, my sons birthday, I finally got my soldier piece Glorious Sacrifice into the world to be judged. I had been working on this show for so long that I never really thought I would finally be able to create it. It just felt like I could never get it out of my freaking head as an idea and onto the stage as a show.It's a story that I have wanted to tell inspired by actual letters from American soldiers written in every American conflict so needless to say, the material was pretty dense. I was getting so lost in the material that it felt like I was going around and around like some dumb dog chasing his tail. I finally just asked myself, "Doug! what is the definition of insanity!, because you are doing it !" And then an an epiphany came to me, why not get some help? Find someone to work with who has had experience creating solo shows and who can teach me the structure of creating and writing a good story. Get help!And once I understood what makes a good story or better yet, how to write a good one person show, the rest fell into place. Like giving your character a goal or a need that he has to obtain and then throwing obstacles at him/her and watching him/ her fight their ass off to get that goal. And if they don't get the goal, then perhaps getting something close enough to that goal. Like the Rolling Stones song, "you might not always get what you want but you'll get what you need." Hey kind of like acting and breaking down a scene, who would have thunk it?And once I understood the fundamentals of writing the structure, my imagination started to take over. I started finding all kind of cruel and creative obstacles to throw towards my characters so they could work their asses off to obtain them. When I was directed by Tim Phillips in True West, he used to always tell me that playwrights are cruel. They love backing their characters in a corners and throwing as many cruel problems at them making it hard for them to succeed. They want them to fight and squirm their way toward success, not walk.But I think the biggest help was having a DEADLINE. Having someone once a week who was waiting on me to show him what I have done. Every Tuesday I had to have a draft of one of my characters to show and work on. I had to act my stories out to an audience not whisper it to myself or to my laptop. I would have never achieved the completion of my first draft if I had given myself the deadline, it needed to be imposed by someone else. Pressure is an amazing thing and when you give it to yourself, you'll be amazed on what you can accomplish. What makes diamonds? PRESSURE!
The greatest feeling of success you can have is giving yourself a goal and then achieving that goal - There is nothing like it. Your confidence grows and your self esteem goes through the roof.
Success is the child of drudgery and perseverance. It cannot be coaxed or bribed; pay the price and it is yours. - Orison Swett Marden

Tom Hanks and Rocky Story

Tom Hanks and Rocky Story

A great quote from TOM HANKS and the ROCKY story. It is always easy to give up but the discipline as an artist is to stubbornly believe in yourself and remind yourself WHY you do what you love to do. DON"T let anyone tell you no!"My TV show had been cancelled; nothing else had gone anywhere; some alliances I had made petered out and nothing came of them and I was looking at a long, long year ahead of me in which there was no work on the horizon, the phone wasn't ringing. I had two kids, one of them a brand-new baby, and I didn't know if I would be able to keep my house." - TOM HANKS

ROCKY STORYHe knew his whole life that he wanted to be in the movie business. He wanted to inspire people. What a lot of people don't know about Sylvester Stallone is that when he was born, they had to pull him out with forceps, which is why he speaks the way he speaks.
When he went out for auditions everyone told him he was stupid looking and there is no place in movies for someone like him. He was given no after no after no and got rejection after rejection. He was so broke that he had to sell his dog for $25 to help pay for his bills. He was so motivated to make it that he saw the story he wanted to tell and then wrote it. He wrote straight for 20 hours until the story of "ROCKY" was born.He then tried to sell it sell it and they offered him $125, 000 for the script but they did not want to him to star in his movie. Just imagine being broke and getting $125,000 bucks, it would be hard to say no as a starving actor. They told him they wanted Ryan O'neal for the role. Hilarious! He told them no, it's my movie and I want to star in it.  They later came back and offered him $250,00 but they still did not want him to star in his own movie. They finally gave him $35,000 and points to the movie for what they thought it would make in the box office.Rocky made over $200 million dollars that year. Believe!