8 ‘In the Envelope’ Guests Give Their Best Advice for New Actors

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Reading inspirational advice from your favorite actors and creators is a great way to think about your own career in the biz. Even more inspiring? Hearing it from them firsthand! Backstage’s “In the Envelope: The Actor’s Podcast” airs weekly, featuring engaging discussions with industry pros and intimate interviews with today’s most exciting awards contenders. Each of the SAG Award–eligible stars below joined us to reveal the inner workings of their artistic processes, the career moves they wish they’d made starting out, and hard-won practical and philosophical tips for early-career actors. If you just launched your stage or screen career and want to learn from the best (or if you’re an industry vet just hoping for some inspiration), tune in to “In the Envelope” wherever you get your podcasts.

Rob McElhenney, “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet”
“You’ve got to find the perfect confluence of making sure that you’re giving yourself a break [and] that you’re not too hard on yourself…. But also recognize when you’ve got to stop making excuses, stop being lazy, and just go do the thing.”

Zoë Kravitz, “High Fidelity”
“I just really wanted to be liked [in auditions]…. Now, when I do read for things, I’m really thinking about it in terms of if I had this job already. I would say, ‘This line doesn’t make sense. Can we do it like this?’ You communicate with the director the way you’d do [it] if the job was yours.”

Aidy Bryant, “Shrill”
“I feel like my entire career has sort of been born out of deep skepticism and cynicism about what this industry would allow me to do if I just took what was handed to me…. If you’re not getting the parts that you want or would love to be considered for, I do think it’s up to you to make it.”

Eva Noblezada, “Yellow Rose”
“There are always decisions for you. Say no! It’s not like you’re the only actor in the world and they’re only going to you…. Saying no, to me—it’s not a big deal. I don’t want to waste my time. I don’t want to waste their time. There’s something out there for me; I just have to be patient.”

Jonathan Majors, “Da 5 Bloods” + “Lovecraft Country”
“I hope that every actor who is making things can feel emboldened and feel encouraged that we have power. Be yourself. Let your heart break every day. The beautiful thing about it is people have to look at you. Be seen. Be seen. Be seen.”

John Boyega, “Small Axe: Red, White and Blue”
“Train hard, be a fan of what you love, [and] study other people who have struggled the same way you have. It’s all about just calibrating and trying to find what, specifically, motivates you. Your freedom in that is knowing that there are no rules that could limit you as a creative.”

Hugh Grant, “The Gentlemen” + “The Undoing”
“I was so bad and so self-conscious, and I had no idea what was happening [early in my career]…. Trust yourself to find it fresh. Listen to the other actor. Think a thought. Let the line play off that thought.”

Simone Missick, “Altered Carbon” + “All Rise”
“We have to walk [into audition rooms] knowing that we have the most power, as opposed to looking at it like: Oh, I’m just trying to get the job. It’s like: They would be lucky if they got me for this particular project. Sometimes you’ve get to tell yourself that for years.”

This story originally appeared in the Jan. 21 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.

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