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Career Dispatches

Why Professional Dry Spells Are Important for Success as an Actor

Why Professional Dry Spells Are Important for Success as an Actor
Photo Source: Courtesy Universal Pictures

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” This is an adage I often turn to when I feel frustrated, but believe me: It doesn’t keep me from tripping myself up.

Everyone trips up all too often, and most of the time when you’re tired. You begin to look around at what everyone else has and ignore what you’ve accomplished. You’re feeling stressed out and you need to book something just to validate yourself.

But do you see what you did there? The thing is, you have just manufactured a problem.

When you’re working or just coming off a project, it’s all too easy to feel confident. Who wouldn’t? You did it! You booked a role and your craft and your passion is providing for you. Your blessings are too bountiful to count. But the danger comes in the down moments, the quiet moments, when you have too much time and not enough to keep you busy. When weeks seem to pass by with nary a phone call. That confidence you felt only a few months ago begins to dim, and you wonder if you’ve actually achieved anything at all.

From there, things only get worse.

You begin looking at everyone else and how things seem to come so easily to them. Or you compare yourself and gauge how much better they’re doing or how much more exposure they’ve received. This could lead to you at times finding yourself seething or feeling depressed, or other times just pushing people away.

I’m here to tell you R-E-L-A-X.

Life as an actor is a roller coaster ride filled with ups and downs. And surprise—the downs are not only okay—they’re necessary. Enjoy your free time without a phone call because soon enough you may not have any. Now is the time to find new inspiration, to work on yourself, your craft, and develop new skills.

Down time is a great time to find new hobbies. Creative hobbies are important, but diversifying your activities is equally important. Something physical is great, such as gardening or carpentry. New skills and passions become assets that take you away from the hectic work world. They re-center you and allow you to approach your craft with newfound enthusiasm and maybe even new ideas.

Down time is also a great time to dive back into what drew you into this industry in the first place—old movies, books. Whatever it is, reacquaint yourself with it. Look at the icons of acting and watch what they’re doing. In addition to going back to what inspired you, better, still, is to go out and discover new types of inspiration. It can be philosophy, architecture, music—who knows? You’ll never know what until you try.

The important thing in the end is to not let yourself manufacture unnecessary stress. All to often I hear people drone on about their ever-surmounting problems and how they feel trapped and helpless. Week after week, it’s happening again and again. It feels like they’re spiralling out of control, and they’re completely oblivious to the fact that they’re the ones causing it. I say this because I spent years doing it. I became my own competition.

There is no shortage of worries and problems that will face you in this industry, and they will wear you down if you let them. If you’re going to continue in this marathon, find out what’s worth worrying about and what’s not. Don’t trip yourself up before you cross that finish line!


Known previously for his roles in “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” “The Killing” and “The 100,” Levi Meaden can next be seen starring with Gabrielle Union in “Breaking In,” in theaters today.

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