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The #1 Personality Trait That Will Sink Your Career

The #1 Personality Trait That Will Sink Your Career
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I've had a 30,000-foot view of this industry for many years and have helped countless clients launch wildly successful acting careers. I’ve also witnessed some clients crash and burn as a result of self-destructive and self-sabotaging behavior. When people think of self-destructive behavior in show business, they usually picture someone with a needle in their arm or someone who shows up to late to set, reeking of alcohol. However, there are other equally damaging behaviors that actors engage in constantly that hold them back and tank any success they’ve accumulated.

The behaviorisms vary, but they all connect to one vicious belief: self-entitlement.

The world does not owe anyone an acting career. The actors who believe that they are entitled to a career are generally the ones who don’t have one. Below are the three types of artist mindsets I’ve encountered in my time helping actors reach their Oscar-winning potential.

The Narcissist
These are the types of actors who are often oblivious to the existence of others. They treat their reps as if their client list is only one name long. On set, they often have no respect or regard for their fellow actors except for how these actors might impact how they look (i.e. they fear being outshone). They have no regard for the other collaborators in the room; for example, the makeup artists aren’t talented professionals in their own right, just people who exist to glorify this actor. They are generally not helpful to others, but will only act helpful if asked, for

They are generally not helpful to others but will only act helpful if asked for appearance's sake, in front of a large group of people. These types of actors love to talk about themselves. They love acting not for the craft but for the amount of attention they receive when they do it. The pathology of this type of self-entitled actor can be quite toxic: if they don’t work for a while, such a dry spell doesn’t match their grandiose beliefs of themselves, and they can become quite poisonous.

READ: Tortoise or Hare? The Value of Persistence & Consistency

The Sloth
These are the actors who don’t think they need to be in an acting class because they believe that they are already so talented, it’s not necessary. These are the actors who believe their agents and managers work for them (not with them) and they tend to shirk all forms of personal responsibility when it comes to getting more auditions. Their headshots are okay, not great. They don’t make an active effort to keep up relationships with production companies or casting offices. Their priority is being comfortable and they don’t often deign to make a move outside of their comfort zone. You’ll often find them complaining about not getting enough auditions. Their lack of career momentum can always be blamed on their reps. Sadly, they don’t truly love acting.

Their headshots are okay, not great. They don’t make an active effort to keep up relationships with production companies or casting offices. Their priority is being comfortable and they don’t often deign to make a move outside of their comfort zone. You’ll often find them complaining about not getting enough auditions. Their lack of career momentum can always be blamed on their reps. Sadly, they don’t truly love acting. 

The Taker
These are the actors who feel entitled to other’s time or services, who often parade themselves around town with their hand out. They’re very good at asking people for favors or to support their show or screening, but never reciprocate such behavior. Sometimes this can manifest as a particularly cutthroat individual one who not just takes, but seeks to sabotage others and subscribes to the mentality of “this business is tough, and it’s everyone for themselves.” This variety of the self-entitled taker can actually spread gossip and lies about their competition, justifying it as a form of competitive edge needed to get ahead.

The crux of all these types of actors is that their self-entitlement will always prevent them from truly loving the craft of acting more than their own self-absorption. Actors who truly love the craft and don’t self-sabotage in this manner engage in actions that can’t help but further their careers and their relationships.

They respect the time of everyone they work with; they want to be helpful to their fellow actor, as they understand that it is an uphill climb for everyone and they possess deep empathy for others. They understand it is their duty to share opportunities, useful advice, etc., as being generous will pay off more than being cutthroat, and besides, being cutthroat just isn’t in their nature. They know at the end of the day, their success in this industry depends on their actions and they consistently engage in personal responsibility to work hard, keep up relationships, and hustle for every opportunity. 

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Joseph Pearlman is an acting coach for celebrities such as Zooey Deschanel, Skylar Grey, and many others, as well as a Backstage Expert. He helps actors launch careers and boost their audition rates to compete for every role for which they're right. For more information, check out Pearlman’s full bio!

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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