by Michelle Danner
The life of an actor is filled with ups and downs. The business of acting is one where the best people in the world get rejected all the time. It’s a rejecting business and you have to make your peace with it.
There are times when you feel on top of the world and times where it’s in a dump. Everyone’s career and life is like that. And if you don’t understand that about life, you’ll take it to heart each time that you are in a valley.
Being in a valley is a very wonderful thing sometimes, because you don’t have the pressure of the mountaintop and you can learn more of yourself then. It’s rich soil that will help you climb and go back to the mountain.
You will always have to deal with the uncertainty of where your next job will come from and the insecurity of not knowing if it will ever come at all. Once again you get turned down because you are too this or that—you can fill in the blank. You have to be able to stay open and strong and have faith.
I remember Stella Adler said, actors have to have “the soul of a rose and the hide of rhinoceros.” No matter how many times you hear no and why they’ve said it, you can’t let it shut you down. You have to work at staying open, being positive, hopeful, and creative.
That means having the soul Adler is talking about. Don’t retreat into your shell and never come out again to play. That’s the hide; it’s having tough skin and letting malice, criticism, and jealously slide off of you. There will always be a percentage of an audience, industry folks, and critics that…won’t like you.
So how do you stay open?
You develop a huge feeling of acceptance of yourself. You keep hearing yes inside of you over and over again. Yes to everything you do.
You look at every audition as a learning experience. Look at what you gained from it, even if you feel it didn’t go well. Ask yourself what the lesson was in that one. Artists grow from their biggest failures.
The challenge is to overcome them by learning how you feel about yourself and by understanding that you are valuable no matter how many no’s you hear. Your value as an actor doesn’t lie on hearing yes, from anyone. The most important yes comes from you and only you.
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