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Success in Hollywood Can Come When You ‘Give Less of a Damn’

Photo Source: Birdie Thompson

I was seven years old when I first realized I wanted to be an actor. The idea of being in a play was the most exciting thing in the world, so I pursued it at school and with an Off-Broadway theater company in Brooklyn. It took less than a day for me to fall in love with everything about the theater. The excitement you feel when reading a new script, the vigorous rehearsal hours, the vibrant energy in the dressing rooms, the sets, the costumes, even the practically inaudible conversations exchanged backstage during performances—I cherished it all. I felt magic when I walked through those theater doors. And being on stage performing was the best part of it all. It’s what I looked forward to the most. When I was acting, I didn’t have a worry in the world. My inhibitions were nonexistent. I was consumed by my character and more importantly, I was having fun.

As I got older, something changed. I don’t mean my devotion and excitement lessened, but my carefree attitude was replaced by a somewhat nervous and fearful one. Suddenly, I felt stress related to my performances, and I started putting too much pressure on myself. I strived for perfection. I was trying too hard. I cared too much about what my performance looked like rather than finding a genuine connection to the story. I’m sure many actors out there face this issue, especially once they are introduced to the machine that is Hollywood. In this industry, it’s important to try to let go of your insecurities and give less of a damn.

Taking rejection and negative critique constructively is a powerful tool that is given to all creatives, we just decide whether or not we want to utilize it. Feedback can foster resilience and drive, which can ultimately lead to a more confident approach in life. Take it, use it if it’s helpful, and just let it go if it’s hurtful. Remember: It’s okay to be yourself. There may be pressure to conform to societal standards, but I can’t stress how important it is to understand that individuality is one of the most magnificent things the human race has to offer, and we should all be incredibly proud of who we are. The next time you approach an audition, try embracing your individuality and completely dedicate yourself to being present. I promise you will not regret it.

That being said, the audition room seems terrifying, doesn’t it? You walk into a holding room filled with all of these gorgeous and talented people, and you try being gracious, but no matter how hard you try, you’re subconsciously psyched out by merely waiting in the same room with them. After some time, you’re called into the room to meet with a panel of likely strangers who are watching your every move. You introduce yourself and “action!”—you’re supposed to be vulnerable and perform.

It may seem intimidating, especially if you’re new to auditioning, but it really isn’t that scary. With each audition, you gain a lot more than you lose. Whether it’s knowledge, a better understanding of your craft, or a new friend, each audition is a learning experience. I wish someone told me this when I started because it would have saved me a lot of time!

In terms of stressing over your performance, don’t. There is no point. Stress translates very clearly on camera, and it’s only going to limit your capabilities, which is the last thing you want. Believe it or not, the casting directors want you to succeed.

It’s easy to feel as though the industry stifles your individuality, and in many ways it does, but that’s not entirely the case. Yes, you received a character breakdown with your audition asking for a specific “type” of person, and that means they’re seeing hundreds of other people that look just like you; however, it’s your job to make that character your own. When you come in, they don’t want to see a version of what you think they’re looking for, they want to see you. They’re auditioning you for a reason, so show them what you can bring to the table. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t book the gig? If you’re caught up in your nerves, you probably aren’t going to book it anyway. There’s no point in wasting your energy feeling sorry for yourself. Get out of your head and just breathe.

Victoria Konefal is a Los Angeles-based actor and stars in “Days of Our Lives.”

Ready to put this advice to use on the small screen? Check out Backstage’s TV audition listings!

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