Do You Have What It Takes?

After my children were born I found it hard to juggle my acting career, which meant very late nights, and the early-to-rise demands of my children, and so I taught drama in secondary schools.

While teaching I thought it really important to come up with a clear, well defined mission statement for the drama department that centered around the values that I wanted to instill in both staff and students and so that our philosophy was clear to everyone.

I thought long and hard and finally came up a mission statement that not only summed up my hopes for the drama department but also really defines the industry in general.

If you wish to succeed in the industry it is an ideal you must not forget. It is a secret that most of the elite actors know because they have experienced it first hand. The degree to which you fully understand and embrace this ideal will not only determine the level success you will achieve but it will also define the journey through the industry that you will take. So, it pretty important!! Sit with it and contemplate it for some time. Allow yourself the time to explore the possibilities of this truth.

So what was the mission statement? Our department signed off all our correspondence with “rewarding enthusiasm with opportunity”.

Let’s explore that for a moment. Let’s go back to the moment you started acting. The moment your interest was peaked. The moment your enthusiasm for the craft started. Let’s look at how enthusiastic you were. You wanted to find out more. You were prepared to do anything to learn more. Your enthusiasm was infectious. Those around you loved working with you, told you how good you were. Were they talking about your ability with the craft? Perhaps, but you are quite new with it so it is more likely they were talking about something else, your enthusiasm.

Now look at the times where you have questioned your ability, even questioned your future with the craft, and let’s look at your enthusiasm levels at that point. Who wanted to work with you then? More than likely the opportunities begin to run dry.

Enthusiasm wins out every time. In an audition it is an actor’s enthusiasm for the project that often gets him or her across the line before all of their less enthusiastic counterparts. Look at the A-list actors or in fact the A-list in any career area and look at how they talk about their career. They are filled with passion and enthusiasm and as a result secure a strong following.

A few yeard ago I attended the Moto GP in Assin. I was surprised to see from the list of competitors that year the majority of fans at the stadium were sporting the colours of only two riders. I opened the program and went through all the photos of the riders and I realized of all of them the two photos that stood out were the photos of these two riders. In fact over that whole weekend these two riders stood apart from the rest.

And why did they stand out? Yeah sure they had heaps of experience and were good at what they did, they had the talent, but so did many of the other riders. What made these to stand out was pure enthusiasm for the sport. They were wildly enthusiastic and they were not afraid to show it. It was infectious!! In fact later when I went through live interview footage of these two riders they spoke enthusiastically about every area of the sport, there did not seem a part of the sport they did not like no matter how tough their journey got. No wonder they were the favorites with the crowds. They kept the sport alive in the hearts’ of their audiences.

So often in acting you meet actors who are quick to complain and quick to blame. Quick to look at a part of the industry, part of the profession that they do not like and in fact they abhor. It is this attitude that kills their career and also kills the enthusiasm for the craft in the hearts of their audiences.

There are two types of actors. The first loves the craft and everything about it. They enjoy diving into the work and being challenged. Obstacles are seen as opportunities to grow and improve. The second likes the idea of himself or herself in the art. They often don’t enjoy the process (the journey) but enjoy the product (the destination). They aren’t really enjoying themselves until it is complete.

The great thing about this is that in order to be enthusiastic we just need to make the choice to be.

The most important word in acting is YES. Challenge yourself to stop thinking and allow things to happen. Get away from defining your acting in terms of a hit or a miss, a success or a failure. It is a journey not a destination.

Whenever there is anything to do start it! Put everything you can muster into starting an enthusiastic start. A professional is at his best regardless.

How enthusiastic are you? Your challenge should you choose to accept is to remain wildly enthusiastic. Remember your enthusiasm is infectious.

And finally I would like to leave you with some advice from Winston Churchill: “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

Do you have what it takes?

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