The Thing That Makes Child Actors Successful? Attitude

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You have the talent, the look, and the right training. But you’re not booking the job. So what gives? The missing ingredient could be the right attitude. As the founder and artistic director of an acting studio for kids (and as a former actor myself), I know what it takes to find success in this business, and having a positive attitude is key!

Successful actors have an “inner monologue” that is positive. Unsuccessful actors are not happy or satisfied because they have a negative attitude and negative inner monologue. They take things personally, they compare themselves to others, and they’ve lost the joy of performing. The constitution of a successful actor is positive, optimistic, and forgiving. Without the self-esteem and confidence, an actor will not find success in this difficult industry. Whenever you notice your inner monologue is negative, pessimistic, and unforgiving, make an effort to be more positive.

Instill a positive attitude in a child actor early in life when their thinking habits are still developing, or it may never happen. An actor’s attitude and inner monologue are as essential to success as their talent!

When it comes to...auditions.
Positive, optimistic, forgiving: Auditioning is a fun opportunity to perform and successful actors have a good sense of perspective. Their inner monologue is, “I know that no matter what happens, there will be other auditions in the future.”

Negative, pessimistic, unforgiving: Auditioning is a high-stakes, high-stress event; it is a trial to overcome, an ordeal to survive. Their inner monologue is, “That audition was a total failure and a waste of my time. Why did I even try?”

No matter what happens in the audition room, a successful actor will walk away with something to work on. A negative actor will never be happy with their performance; the negative actor is a perfectionist, and anything less than is not ideal. A negative actor will obsess over every detail of every audition and pick apart the entire experience. Weeks later a negative actor may still be stewing over what they wore, how they wished they did something else in the audition room, even how she said hello.

READ: Parents, Don’t Kill Your Child’s Career Before It Starts

When it comes to...rejection.
Positive, optimistic, forgiving: Rejection is part of the business and there are a lot of uncontrollable factors that go into the decision to cast one actor over another. Every actor faces rejection...lots of rejection. Their inner monologue is, “I know it may take 99 auditions to land that one role and I have to keep at it!”

Negative, pessimistic, unforgiving: Rejection is a personal attack. It is a blow that takes time to recover from and rattles confidence. Their inner monologue is, “What’s wrong with me, why can’t I book a job?”

Even successful working actors go on plenty of auditions where they don’t get the role. Rejection is a difficult but inescapable part of the entertainment industry. Everyone is disappointed when they face rejection, there’s no getting around it. What sets a successful actor apart is how they handle rejection. A successful actor will learn from rejection and move on. An unsuccessful, negative-thinking actor will fixate on the rejection and take it personally. An unsuccessful actor will see a rejection of a role as a rejection of herself as a person when that’s simply not the case.

When it comes to...other actors.
Positive, optimistic, forgiving: Looks at other actors and sees equals, peers, and friends. Their inner monologue is, “Everyone’s different and no one on earth offers what you do because no one else is you!”

Negative, pessimistic, unforgiving: Looks at other actors and sees them as better, more accomplished, and a competitor. They find themselves deficient in some way and create obstacles. Their inner monologue is “I can’t be successful, that actor is better looking, more fit, more talented, and more trained than I am.”

The positive-thinking actor generally has high self-esteem while the negative-thinking actor feels insecure. The negative-thinking actor often sees performing as a path to validation, while a positive-thinking actor validates herself and doesn’t need it from other people.

Be Positive, optimistic, and forgiving.
Often the hardest part of performing isn’t the work itself. It isn’t even the hustle for jobs. It’s the emotional work of staying positive and confident while facing the rejection inherent in this business. Any time you catch yourself being unkind in your head, try to replace the negativity with something positive. Remind yourself that performing is fun, and what you have to offer is unique and valuable. Take good care of yourself and your emotions. As an actor, your body, brain, and personality are your tools. Make sure you’re healthy on the inside and success will follow!

Check out Backstage’s kids auditions!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Author Headshot
Jessica R. Grosman
Jessica R. Grosman is the founder and artistic director of A Class Act NY, Manhattan’s award-winning acting studio for kids and teens. She has successfully coached students who have booked roles in feature films, Broadway productions, and on primetime TV series.
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