3 Things Actors Need to Know About Themselves

There’s much talk about actors needing to know about getting into character, but not an awful lot on the topic of knowing about yourself. It’s only in the knowing of oneself that you can determine the sort of work you audition for or the roles you entertain. Whether you’re on camera, on the stage, or at the microphone, you need to make thoughtful decisions about your career and the story you want your life to tell.

The following tips will help you to discover who you are and give you greater confidence when navigating opportunities that require quick decisions.

1. Know who you are. Although much of what happens in life is out of your control, you can govern how you choose to live and promote yourself. Identity is huge. Your identity, or in business terms, your brand, is representative of who you are as a person, what you value and how you see the world. Politics and religion—though not usually welcome in the public square—are the very things that make life interesting, and for many people, give meaning to their lives. Whether privately held or openly shared, your allegiances and beliefs shape the person you are today. Having great headshots is trivial when compared with who you are on the inside. To paraphrase one of my favorite authors, “You are a soul. You have a body.” Likewise, not all that glitters is gold and beauty fades with time. Focus on what will last as you brand yourself as an actor.

2. Know what you value. What drives you? Three core values our team shares at Voices.com are innovation, excellence, and integrity. Identifying what means the most to you, for example education, health, security, or growth, will help you to focus as you evaluate new opportunities. What you value determines where you should spend your time and effort. Let’s say healthy living is one of your values. Every step along the way, you’ll be looking at opportunities through the lens of how a certain activity or choice will impact your health. Similarly, if you place value on authenticity, take care to only audition for those roles that best reflect your brand and career objectives.

3. Know where you draw the line. Now that we’ve covered who you are and what you hold dear, it’s time to know where to draw the line. Setting up healthy boundaries allows you to honor your values while being true to yourself. In business as in life, you will need to make strategic trade-offs. This might mean turning down work that runs contrary to your values or holding firm on rates when a producer offers lower pay than you might have otherwise expected. Knowing what you won’t do is just as important as knowing what you will do. One way to go about making decisions is adopting the 10-10-10 principle as championed by Suzy Welch, wife of former General Electric chairman and CEO Jack Welch. She suggests viewing each decision in light of how your choice could impact you 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now, and 10 years from now. Taking the long view into account gives perspective and helps speed up the decision making process.

No matter what stage you are at in your acting career, you need to know these basic things about yourself in order to conduct business in a consistent, purpose-driven, and confident manner. Understanding who you are is key to developing a brand. Every brand has values, and when you stand for something, you’ll stand out because boldness sets people apart.

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Stephanie Ciccarelli
Stephanie Ciccarelli is the co-founder and chief brand officer of Voices.com, the industry-leading website that connects businesses with professional voice talent. 
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