Can you think of any career (outside of the arts) where the customers lavish you with flowers and praise when you finish your shift? After every screening and performance, friends and strangers wait for us to emerge to celebrate us with a chorus of:
“You were SO good!” “That was AMAZING.” “Genius! Absolutely amazing.”
The baseline expectation is our work is brilliant and our audiences are basically required to compliment us. (No matter what they really thought 😱)
And if they don’t tell us we’re incredible… then we sucked, right? No wonder we have trouble dealing with results. In the last blog, I argued that your acting career can be simple, straightforward, and effective. This can happen by…
Answering Three Questions:
What Is Your Product?
Is Your Product Good Enough?
Do the Buyers Know Your Product Exists?
The magic to the second question is figuring out HOW we answer the it. So let’s dig into: #2. Is Your Product Good Enough? Can we agree that feedback for actors can be rife with bullshit, creating a reality where the only two options are our genius or our total downfall? That’s not sustainable. It’s not professional. And it kills creativity. We have to CHOOSE to filter out Emotional Feedback and, even worse, Polite Feedback. Emotional Feedback is how someone felt about your work. It’s lovely if they choose to share a compliment, but their experience is theirs. It’s subjective. Polite Feedback is when someone lies to you about your work. It’s not necessarily bullshit, but it’s goal is to make you feel good rather than be honest. But we don’t need their feedback! Think about it…
Do you compliment your tax preparer on the beauty of your return?
Do we bring flowers to our Amazon driver after they drop off a package?
Do we tell the head of H.R. their work was genius and they should be a star?
But if we ignore Emotional Feedback and Polite Feedback, how we do know if our product is actually good enough?
First, we measure in RESULTS. I’m talking callbacks, avails, and bookings. Quite simply, when your product is defined and the work is good enough, your callbacks, pins, and bookings will go up. You won’t book every job, but you’ll feel truly in the discussion for way more of them. This is why it is vitally important to track and celebrate callbacks, avails, pins, and all the other silly designations that come before booking. It’s all positive data. Second, we replace the question “Was It Good?” with “Was It Successful?” The concept of good and bad in our acting reinforces the idea that there is an objective value assessment of our work. There isn’t! Instead, create an intention for your work and see if you meet it or not. Replace: "Was it good?” With: “In this run I wanted to explore my character’s inner obstacle and it was very successful; I connected more deeply and found humor I didn’t expect.” Replace: "Was I good?” With: "I wanted to have the status this time but it wasn’t successful because I kept pushing and the dynamic works better in reverse.” Focusing on the success of a specific intention removes shame because it’s not a judgement on your entire craft. This helps us engage with our work honestly and collaborate more effectively. Lastly, we bring this POV to every tool of our career, not just our craft! Replace: "Is my headshot good?” With: “Was this headshot successful in getting me in for the role that matches my primary product… or not?” Replace: “Is my self-tape equipment good enough?” With: “Are my auditions successful in being clear and competitive for the job?”
Woof! Okay… We’ve covered a lot.
Define my product, willfully ignore the Emotional and Polite Feedback aimed right at my vulnerable ego, actually wrestle with the results of my career while forgoing the safety of the simplistic “good vs. bad” framework, and…. there’s a step three? Yeah. But we’ll worry about that next time.