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The Working Actor

Stop Thinking About Your Competition

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Stop Thinking About Your Competition
Photo Source: Clay Rodery

Imagine yourself at an audition. You’re waiting around, potentially looking over your material, but more than likely you’re on your smartphone, avoiding life. The people around you are the same gender, height, hair color—even weight. You’re a type, and you’re surrounded by yourself. Hundreds of Yous, all vying for the same job. Once this grim reminder pops into your head, that douchey little voice you try to ignore says, “These actors are totally the better version of you.”

They aren’t. That person across the room who’s tricked you into thinking she is a mirror is in fact completely different than you. She has other skill sets, knows different people, and prepared using methods separate from your own. She brings something into the room that you never will. The cool part? The same goes for you. Sometimes the Powers That Be will dig the other person, and sometimes they’ll dig you. Rarely is booking a job ever about “more talented” as much as it is “more appropriate.” The moment we start accepting that nine times out of 10 it’s not about us, the less time we’ll spend Googling: “cheap early happy hour.”

Sometimes you suck, though. It happens. Your competition is probably going to suck sometimes, too. Why is it that we always assume the other person is kicking ass all the time? I assure you they’re not. Either way, we shouldn’t be worrying about them anyway, because they aren’t our competition. Nobody is your competition. They’re just other people who might fulfill the vision better, or are closer friends with the Powers That Be. Our real competition is circumstance, and she’s a mean bitch.

You can read any number of interviews with casting directors or entertainment professionals that bemoan what not to do in the audition room, but few ever point out that most of what you need to be is someone else. It doesn’t make you any less talented or worthy of the job.

Obviously it’s annoying as shit to keep telling yourself this when you’ve gone to 90 straight auditions without a booking. You’ll keep looking for answers and finding ways to make yourself “better,” but fully embracing what you bring to the table might have been appreciated. Writers, directors, and choreographers get work based on their creative history. We’re often at the whim of what they need, and that doesn’t always give us the creative fulfillment to justify why we chose this business in the first place.

We waste a lot of time questioning why we didn’t get it instead of celebrating that they didn’t get us. It will be a lot healthier in the long run if instead of thinking the person who got it was better than us, we accepted the fact that he was just different than us. And most of the time, “they” aren’t better than us— because we’re awesome. Eventually, opportunity and your awesomeness will collide, and shortly afterward you’ll be so bored with that job.

Read more articles written about and by Annoying Actor Friend here!

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