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The Working Actor

Actors Anonymous Step 3: Fearless Moral Inventory

Actors Anonymous Step 3: Fearless Moral Inventory
Photo Source: Clay Rodery

This month we enter Step 3 of the Actors Anonymous program. So far we’ve followed a rough sketch of the original 12-step model. Now we skip ahead to “take a fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” I want you to answer the following questions as honestly as possible: Do you have a negative knee-jerk reaction to news of your fellow actors booking jobs? Do you watch awards ceremonies to make fun of the outfits and speeches? Are most of your friends stick-in-the-mud gossips? Misery loves company and the company may be you.

I propose that our attitudes toward each other are in direct proportion to the amount of work we book. There are times in all our lives when everyone around us seems to be getting what we want most: the role, the relationship, the apartment. Right before I joined the cast of “Wicked” I was auditioning at one of the regular haunts. It’s usually the same handful of us waiting around and chitchatting, but that day all of the girls were newbies. My inner circle wasn’t there because they had all booked jobs (or at least that’s what I thought). I fell into a depression. Waves of jealousy and anger washed over me. I went to that all-too-familiar trough to binge-drink on catty comments and hateful snarls and stayed a little too long. In a business that hasn’t proved to make my feelings a priority, I had to change my attitude fast before I lost myself entirely.

A little quiet time with my faith and I learned what I needed to do: sow into the lives of others what I wished to reap in my own. I went to more shows, cheered louder at curtain calls, and reached out to actively celebrate with others in their seasons of success. The result was miraculous. Their joy became my own. Learning to be happy for someone else even at the expense of your own desires will change you in ways you can’t imagine. My philosophy flipped and a revelation was made. If most of the women in my circle had their breakthroughs, then I would be next. Their successes became the doors opening to my own (doors that have opened widest since this epiphany). I also realized that I had let some people in who were dragging me down. The adage “You are only as strong as the weakest among you” became a moral anthem. I needed to move away from les misérables and invest with those who had been my supporters, championing me and showing up when I needed them the most. Misery may love company, but joy cannot exist without it. If I ever achieved the success I sought, what would be the point without people to share in it?

Someone else will inevitably get the thing we want. It’ll happen many times. In each instance, the choice will remain: spew venom or bask in the wonderful truth that a peer is having their dream-come-true moment and we may be next. It’ll be slow going at first, but even kindness can be made perfect with practice.

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