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The 3 Categories Every Actor Should Examine

The 3 Categories Every Actor Should Examine
Photo Source: Pete McDonnell

The key to a successful acting career is finding the right balance.

I’ve been practicing yoga for over five years, and I am constantly reminded that balance is essential. And I’m not just talking about one-legged poses where the slightest shift can send you crashing to the floor. It’s also important that both sides of your body be equally strong and limber. They need to be balanced.  

This basic lesson applies to all aspects of our lives. It also applies to your acting career. That’s why I’m going to help you find the right balance.

First, I want you to get a piece of paper and a pen. Draw three columns with the following titles at the top: Skill, Career, and Personal Life. These are the three parts of your life that must be in balance if you’re going to be successful.

Now you need to do some honest writing. Let’s start with Skill, which is another word for Talent. What are you doing to be the best possible actor that you can be? If you’re currently in a class, write down the name and type of class. (You should also make a note of how long you’ve been studying with that teacher. It could be time for a change.)

What else are you doing? One of my younger clients gets together with a group of like-minded actors every week to practice putting themselves on tape. Are you doing something like that? Good. Write it down.

Do you go out of your way to watch others act? For example, maybe you see a play every week, hoping to learn from the performances onstage. If that’s the case, write it down.

Are you starting to get the picture?

Let’s move on to Career. What have you been doing to advance your circle of contacts? If you’ve been attending workshops, that counts. You’re meeting casting directors and their staff. Write it down.

Do you have a detailed list of every industry professional you’ve ever met? Have you noted under what circumstances you met, and have you stayed in touch with them about advances in your career? That’s excellent. Write it down.

Are you tracking the casting directors of specific projects you’re right for? Have you made an effort to attend events that allow you to network? Do you have an outstanding website? Write it all down.

And finally, let’s discuss your Personal Life.

This is the one category that actors tend to ignore. They argue that life can wait. Career comes first. This is nonsense. If acting is based on life experience, how can you be a great actor when you have no life?

Make a list of everything you do that has nothing to do with acting. Are you an avid reader? Do you like to explore your city? Are you into photography?

Your physical and mental states also have a huge effect on your ability to perform. Are you in shape? Do you eat well? Are there people in your life who listen when you need to talk?

And let’s not forget about money. It’s hard to crush an audition when you’re worried about the rent. So do you have a system that protects you from financial despair? Have you set up an IRA? Are you smart about how you spend your money? 

Write it all down.

Now pour yourself a glass of wine and take a long look at that list. Is it in balance? Are there areas that need more attention? The answers should be obvious.

Finding balance is more than a goal. It’s a way of life.

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