In this industry, people often talk about how important “who you know” is, but they’re usually referring to casting directors, producers, and other power players who can move the needle for your career. And while it’s true that knowing powerful people can be helpful, power alone isn’t everything. As recent events have made all the more clear, powerful people can also bring a lot of toxicity to your life.
“Who you know” is critical to your success as an actor, but the most important aspect of the people you know isn’t power, it’s how genuinely supportive they are of you as an artist.
You will inevitably have to interact with people who don’t have your best interest at heart. People who try to bring you down by telling you that you’re not pretty or talented enough. And this is why it’s essential to cultivate the right inner circle, the people with whom you spend the most time.
Your inner circle consists of the people you confide in, ask for advice, share your challenges with, and entrust with your dreams. A formidable inner circle is what prevents the shitty situations and people you’ll have to deal with from holding you back (especially in the early stages of your career when receiving harsh criticism before a certain amount of success can crush your dreams).
Your success as an actor depends on having the right people in your inner circle. Without them, you’ll waste your precious energy worrying about what other people think and have a difficult time being true to yourself.
I’m sure you know what it's like to be having lunch with a friend when they slip a passive-aggressive dig into the conversation, one that leaves you feeling less-than.
That’s a classic sign they might need to be removed from your inner circle. Time spent with people who don’t belong in your inner circle leaves you feeling:
- angry, bitter, and upset
- down on yourself
- conflicted about your acting goals and dreams
- haunted by things they said
But the number one, surefire way you can tell if you need to let someone go from your inner circle is when you (more often than not) walk away from spending time with them feeling smaller and more contracted instead of bigger and more expansive.
On the other hand, people who do belong in your inner circle leave you feeling:
- encouraged and understood
- happy, peaceful, and appreciated
- valued for who you are
- reassured about your acting goals and dreams
- uplifted by the things they said
You probably have a specific person in mind who you suspect you may need to remove from your inner circle, but then feel guilty at the thought. You may be afraid of hurting them or even worry that you’ll end up alone. But here’s the thing: you don’t do yourself or anyone else any favors by staying close to them when you’re no longer walking away from time spent together feeling good. If you let them go with love in your heart (or just hang out with them less frequently) you’re opening up a space in your life and theirs for new connections that truly benefit you both.
I don’t mean that you have to take a hatchet to everyone in your life who may occasionally doubt your dreams. What I am suggesting is that you gravitate toward spending the majority of your time with people who understand the challenges you face, people who, like you, are continually stepping outside of their comfort zone. People who are truly rooting for you and wanting you to succeed, no matter how long it takes.
If you feel like you need more of those kinds of people in your inner circle, I invite you to join my private Facebook group. I hope to see you there!
Teri Wade has dedicated her life to empowering actors, writers, and directors. Using her transformational coaching methods, she has helped thousands of artists change their lives, enhance their careers and connect with new audiences. She is the creator of The Evolving Artist™, author of “The Essential Life Story™,” and a contributing writer for Backstage.
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