Why is it that when an agent says, “Just go in there and have fun with it!” right before a big pilot audition, you want to claw their eyes out? “This is life-and-death for me,” you think. “How the hell am I supposed to ‘just have fun’ with it?”
It feels like life and death because you care so much; you want to book a pilot this season so badly. And yet every actor has a story about booking a job they didn’t really care about. Why? Because they cared about the work but didn’t obsess.
When you don’t obsess, you’re able to be present. That’s the secret. When the audition matters too much, when there’s so much on the line that it’s “life-and-death,” your mind steps in and tries to control the outcome, making you unable to trust your talent or be present. But it’s talent that books the work, no?
So how do you give yourself space this pilot season? How do you care without caring?
Here’s the thing: Of course you care. You can’t not care. And that’s OK. But when you cross the line from caring to obsessing, bad things happen. That shift takes you from caring about and loving your work to fearing that you may get it wrong and not achieve your goal. That shift takes you from being present in each moment to being in your head, trying to control the outcome. And that’s where artistry dies. Affecting someone on an emotional level only happens when you’re present in your work, experiencing the scene in real time. Controlling it makes people feel manipulated. From that place, success won’t happen.
What are the secrets to caring just enough but not too much?
1. Smart preparation.
There’s so much joy to be found in preparing for a scene, so much to discover from the bold, unique choices you make and how you’re affected by the scene. If you lose yourself in the mystery and discovery of your preparation, it can let you focus on the work itself and not the outcome. Trusting that you’ll discover in the audition leaves room for the work to unfold and can prevent obsessing.
2. Get a life.
When you’ve crafted a well-rounded, healthy life, you stop looking for the validation of the pilot audition to make you whole. When you take responsibility for your own happiness, it takes the pressure off the audition and you’re able to do your work without obsessing. So get out there and live. Volunteer, start a business, travel, do it all. Live a full life and your audition won’t define you.
3. Get your mind right.
You’ll have doubts and fears. Old narratives will come back and try to limit you. Your inner critic will say all the things that undermine your potential. But none of it is real. It’s all nonsense your head creates because being present isn’t easy. Being a successful actor in an emotionally violent business means you have to be in the practice of managing your mind and deep self-awareness, and have a crystal-clear sense of the nature of your mind so that when that inner critic talks smack—and it will—you know it’s not you talking and that you can choose to move forward in spite of it. When you manage your mind, you’re able to care without obsessing.
To book work this pilot season you have to be present. And thankfully, presence is a practice. So start practicing! You can join us at the BGB Studio to engage in the practice of presence.
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