For most people outside of the industry (and even some within it), it is a common assumption that the success of an actor can only be measured by the number of credits you have, the TV shows or movies you can be seen in, or the worst one (in my opinion) – how many followers you might have on social media.
Although having all of these things, or even just some of them, can be beneficial to your career, the level of success of an actor should not be measured by them.
The art and beauty of acting is essentially about finding your truth in a moment. Finding your truth in a character and finding your truth in a story. If you can find that completely honest, naked moment, even just once, regardless of who is watching, then that alone is success. Your experience of that moment is **success.
Being an actor is being a student, always!
As an actor or performer you are ultimately a student of life, and not just of your life, but also the lives of the people around you and who you interact with; the lives of the people in the stories you read and see on the news, the people in movies and documentaries you watch, and yes, even the people in those 30 second videos you scroll through on TikTok or Instagram at 2am in the morning when you can’t sleep.
As a student, you get to learn and keep learning. It means you are constantly seeking to listen, to observe, to discover and to understand the human condition. Allowing yourself the permission to explore uncomfortable feelings and perhaps find compassion, empathy, and honest truths in the stories of unlikely people through curiosity rather than judgment.
We, as humans, are complicated and messy, complex, and flawed, but we are also uniquely fascinating, resilient creatures with curious minds. We make mistakes and get things wrong, and that’s ok. We are imperfect. And so are our stories. But that’s what make them beautiful.
In a world where raw, natural beauty is being taken over by retouched filters and fake unattainable perfection, an actor’s greatest superpower right now is to be unapologetically yourself, and find your truth both in your life and in your stories.
As actors, you get the privilege of being able to explore and play with all the different nuances and types of stories and characters. As a student, you get the chance to learn and understand the honest moments and truths behind who and what these characters and stories are. But best of all, being an actor who embraces being a student also means that you don’t have to, or need to be perfect. You are still learning, and there is a beautiful freedom in that.
Whether you are an actor who has just started your first class, or a series regular on a hit show, or even if you’re just running lines for an audition with your best friend, never stop being a student and seeking those moments. Take every opportunity you can to learn from different people, in different places from all different walks of life. Because if that helps you find even just one real moment of truth and connection in your work today, then you are a successful actor, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
*OAS Mic Drop*