Photo: Michelle Danner in Russia
Being in a valley is a very wonderful thing sometimes, because you don’t have the pressure of the mountaintop and you can therefore learn more about yourself. It’s rich soil that will help you climb back up the mountain.
You will always have to deal with the uncertainty of where your next job will come from and the insecurity of not knowing if it will ever come at all. You get turned down because you are too this or that—you can fill in the blank. You have to be able to stay open and strong and have faith.
I remember Stella Adler said actors have to have “the soul of a rose and the hide of rhinoceros.” No matter how many times you hear no, you can’t let it shut you down. You have to work at staying open and being positive, hopeful, and creative.
That means having the soul Ms. Adler was talking about. Don’t retreat into your shell and never come out again to play. That’s the hide; it’s having tough skin and letting malice, criticism, and jealousy slide off of you. There will always be a percentage of an audience that won’t like you.
So how do you stay open?
You develop a huge feeling of acceptance of yourself. You keep hearing yes inside of you over and over again. Yes to everything you do.
You look at every audition as a learning experience. Look at what you gained from it, even if you feel it didn’t go well. Ask yourself what the lesson was. Artists grow from their biggest failures.
The challenge is to overcome your failures by learning how you feel about yourself and by understanding that you are valuable no matter how many "no"s you hear. Your value as an actor doesn’t lie on hearing "yes" from everyone. The most important "yes" comes from you and only you.
Michelle Danner is an acting coach and the owner of the Michelle Danner Acting Studio, which is based in Santa Monica, California. You can read Ms. Danner’s full bio here. Read this article on MichelleDanner.com/blog.
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