I’m nearly at the end of my first year out of drama school. They say the first few years are the most difficult, and I’m starting to appreciate that.
It’s been an interesting year with mostly steady work and mostly very little money. There’s been the thrill of getting an agent (hi Carol!), the excitement of going to castings, the joy of getting stuck into a part, the constant niggle in the back of my mind about money, the effort not to compare myself to other actors who seem to be ‘doing better’, the elation when I got a job and the disappointment when I didn’t.
It’s very easy to start worrying that everyone else is getting more work, their careers are progressing faster, they’re more talented or luckier, and of course there’s that fear creeping in that I’ve failed before I’ve really begun. You fall into a trough and the more you struggle and flail your arms, the more you seem to sink into the mud. But recently I’ve come to realise, and maybe for many of you fellow performers this has been obvious all along, that this is the job. This is the life. This is not me failing at being an actor. This is me BEING an actor.
And so it’s ok! Just like choosing to start not only a new sentence but a whole new paragraph with the word ‘and’ is ok! (My mum will disagree.) Nothing’s wrong, this is just how it is on this particular path I’ve chosen. No wonder they went on about ‘building resilience’ so much at drama school. It all makes sense now. I guess you’ve got to actually live it in order to really understand.
Some of my friends and fellow actors have also been feeling a bit stuck in the mud, so for any of you performers out there feeling this way, you’re not alone. Remember your support network, and try to find the balance of work and play. If you need a bit of guidance with that, I’ve found the following book to be a great help: An Attitude for Acting by Andrew Tidmarsh and Dr Tara Swart. I’m sure there’s all manner of self-help books out there for actors, and many of them are probably a waste of money, but I think this one’s pretty good. It just helped me bring things back into focus.
I feel I’m back on the upward climb at the moment. I had that amazing experience working in Russia, and since I’ve been back I’ve had two auditions, one for a play, one for a commercial, and two for TIE tours. I’ve also just been offered the two TIE tours. So things are definitely happening, even if it’s a slow trickle. Onwards and upwards I say!