Defining “success” / by Rob Ostlere

‘There are so many factors that make the ingredients right for each performer; there is no crystal-ball.’ As this experienced agent suggests, there isn’t one simple formula for success. The reality of the industry is that actors are reliant on the decision making of casting directors, agents, directors and producers, as well as many other factors outside of our control. 

So, in the day-to-day of your career experienced industry interviewees advise you to take a step back from thinking about the big, abstract goal of ‘success’. Instead, identify and work on the things you can influence when it comes to getting jobs and staying afloat, and leave the rest – the things you can’t control – in the hands of industry figures. 

To do this, focus on the quality of your efforts rather than your results. With this attitude, success becomes more about ‘What can I improve about the way I prepare for auditions?’ rather than ‘Did I get the part?’; ‘Am I doing the right things to get me through this period of unemployment?’ rather than ‘When is this going to end?’; and ‘I can relax and really enjoy this job’ rather than ‘What work will it lead to next?’ 

As one agent explains, ‘you shouldn’t try to control and worry about something that is inevitably out of your hands; what type of opportunities you’ll get and when they’ll come. By focusing on and worrying about those, you detract from your ability to take those opportunities.’ 

This sort of mindset takes practice to get into. But if you can slowly shift your attention away from success in conventional terms – from the end-goal – you’ll be able to put more energy towards the things that actually might lead you there. 

This is an extract from The Actor’s Career Bible, available here