3 Tips To Help Actors Stressed About the State of the Industry

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I’m sure you’ve been getting a lot of questions and comments lately about our current situation. “How long will we be out of work?” “What will the future of film look like?” “It feels like forever until theaters can open again.”

The last time I was this stressed was 10 years ago. I was brand new to Chicago and living in a studio apartment. I went from friends all around me to zero. Plus, I was broke with no clue how to be an actor. Fast forward 10 years and I’m in the best day job I’ve ever had. I have access to a hard-to-get audition and my first lead role in a web series. Then, the coronavirus hit. The day job laid me off. All those casting directors couldn’t cast me if they wanted to and my web series got postponed. Now, this is normally where I’d tell you how things got so much better: New job, new opportunities, fell in love during quarantine...unfortunately, that’s not the case.

But here’s the thing. If I went from zero friends, a low paying job, and zero clue as to how to be an actor to where I am today? That means I figured it out before and I’ll figure it out again. In case you haven’t realized it, you’ll figure it out too.

If you’re not embracing the whole “things will get better” attitude, no sweat. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Go easy on yourself. No one taught us this. 
Remember when you went to acting school and learned a bunch of things? Script analysis, taking care of your voice, and so much more? Then maybe took some on-camera classes after you graduated? I’m guessing you learned things that you didn’t know before. We’re in a business with constant rejection and ongoing comparison to our peers, but for some reason, amid everything else we’re not taught about our mental health. Which means we lack the necessary tools in our tool belt.

It’s the same thing for this pandemic. No one’s taught us how to handle this. If you’re feeling extra stressed, start by going easy on yourself for feeling whatever comes up.

2. You’ve figured out hard things before. You’ll figure this out too. 
My story of moving to Chicago might sound similar to something you’ve experienced. Did you figure out how to get an agent? How to become SAG eligible? How to earn your EMC card? Or maybe you’re not there yet, but you know how to apply to agents or crash Equity calls.

If you’re an actor, that means you’re tough. You have a resilience others don’t necessarily have. You’re an actor. You’ve done hard things before. You figured them out. You’ll figure this out too.

3. You’re allowed to enjoy parts of this. 
We live in a very black or white, either-or, type of world so it’s natural if your mind jumps to “I have to be super depressed or super positive.”

What if we could both acknowledge what’s going on and feel sad when we feel sad while accepting the parts that are good? Happy to have a break from auditions? Happy you get a break from your restaurant job? It’s allowed! It doesn’t mean you hate acting or you wish ill on the restaurant. You’re simply taking the good that comes with the bad.

I hope these tips help the next time you’re wondering “How will I figure this out?” Or better yet, “How will the business figure this out?” My advice? Focus on what’s in your control. Enjoy the good that comes with the bad and please remember that you’ve done hard things before. You’ll learn how to do them again with this.

If we take care of both ourselves and each other, I really believe we’re going to be OK.

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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.

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Tony Rossi
Tony is a Chicago based actor, having performed both in the Chicago and Boston markets. His training includes the Second City Conservatory and the Business of Coaching and Speaking certification program. After hitting his rock bottom while waiting tables, Tony now coaches actors to see things differently with the things that make them stressed so they can focus on what matters. Check out the Actor Problems podcast, dedicated to the mental well being of actors.
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