Success. It can feel that particularly in the Arts industry it’s a bit of a myth. However, I am sure we all know someone or a story of someone who actually did it and gone on to make a career in show business!
Yet I find that a lot of young Actors, including myself, can view our industry as one big competition. A need to tick boxes, to say you did something to prove you’re better than someone else.
Then there are the people who are actually being successful, the ones who are ‘doing it’ or at least on their way to doing it. It’s such a sad feeling to see someone who is smashing life when you compare them to yourself. when they feel as if they aren’t going quick enough and then forget what they have achieved.
We all know this isn’t good or healthy.
Everyone has a Journey
There is no one way of making a career in the Arts, if there was, well everyone would be doing it. Some go through Drama Schools, some through Universities, some through Regional Theatres and some happen to be in the right place at the right time.
How are you supposed to compare yourself to someone else when they have gone about it a completely different way than you?
The answer is – you don’t!
Find your way and follow it. You may even try one path and it doesn’t work, so you change. This all adds up to how you got to where you are and that’s what makes you…. you.
I don’t mean to blow my own horn but have a read of my article How to Act: Dealing with Audition Rejection. If you can get your head around why you weren’t picked for a job, you have more of a chance to understand why someone else was. It’s not that they are better than you, it’s that they are different
Dealing with it
Once you start to do well, dealing with success can start to become a bit like walking a tightrope. Once you complete something you have to recalibrate and find the next goal, don’t stay stationary, ‘strike while the iron is hot’ some might say. But, at the same time, it’s important to understand what you achieved and where you have come from.
Remember to be gracious to the people who helped you get there and to the people who may need your help in the future.
Of course, most ‘successful’ people don’t realise that they are actually being successful. If you happen to be doubting whether you should be where you are, think all that you have done in the past, or be a bit quicker and have a look at your CV.
Keeping your Head in the Present
I’ve touched on this in my last paragraph but I want to bring even more attention to it. Yes, have goals and dreams but don’t let them become your master. Let your head be where you are now and actually realise the importance of what you’re doing, and I mean the real importance.
The best way to describe what I’m trying to say is to paraphrase what a Director said to me. After the final run-through of a show, 1st-night nerves settling in, he sat us all down and went through notes as is common. Once he had finished he said “Break a leg tonight and remember: The world is going to keep spinning and there are about a thousand more important things going on right at this minute. Just chill out.”
What is Success?
This is a little final thing, that might be the most important bit of advice I can give. It’s so easy to say you want to be successful, but what does that actually mean?
For some, it might be to be a millionaire with a house in Hollywood or their name in lights in the West End. Others, to have a day job that allows them to write their own scripts and screenplays that might just make it to prime time on BBC 1. For me, success means that I’m able to pay the bills.
First, this lets you know what it is you actually want. Second, it reminds you that the people sitting next to you in that audition may have a very different plan than you.
To summarise the best I can: Don’t compare yourself to others, they have different goals. Be happy with you, because you’re great and you have your own plan for the future.
John is a graduate of the YEP Actors and Writers courses and is currently studying Acting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He continues to write his own plays in his own time. He is also an avid football fan and is trying to make his debut into the Liverpool first eleven. Acting was always the plan B.