The other day leaving an audition, I had barely exited the building before I was speed dialing my best friend Margot. When she didn’t answer, I immediately called another friend and another until third time lucky, someone answered and I could speak. I have a habit of doing this, growing up every time I left a casting I would immediately call my mother and tell her a play by play of every second that took place in the room. As an adult, to a lesser degree, I still do this. If I leave a casting I call someone, I need to hear a familiar voice.
Reflecting on this, it makes sense to me, a day in the life of an actor can be very solitary. We take meetings alone; go to auditions alone, often walking into stressful, vulnerable environments alone. It is in these audition rooms where we are required to exist fully in a creative space and express parts of our self as a character in the most personal way. So it makes sense that I would leave those environments and want familiarity, I would want some kind of emotional security. Interestingly in psychology there is actually a name for this.
This term in psychology is Ontological Security and it refers to a cognitive need in humans, an innate desire to feel secure and stable in our identity. In simple terms, it describes a human desire to know who we are, what we are and further that a profound feeling of stability and meaning comes from knowing that the world is predictable and ordered and understanding our place in it.
Reflecting on this, it made sense to me, of course we desire this. Yet, it does create a big problem for actors. We know that the world is not predictable and ordered and our routinely chaotic lives reflect that. So, how do gain stability and meaning in order to understand our place in the world when our lives are so unpredictable? When we so often lack security?
Well the answer to these big questions might be simple.
We love and support the other actors in our lives. We reach out to each other, we join communities and we ask for help. In this way, we gain meaning and order in our lives, we fulfil an innate human desire within ourselves.
In my article today, I delve further into this. I hope as always these words serve as a simple reminder to love your self and to support the actors in your life.
We are in this together.
‘A little more kindness, a little less judgement.’
JOIN A COMMUNITY
When I was eighteen years old and moved to Sydney from Canberra, I didn’t know a soul. The first thing I did was join an acting class. In reflection, if I hadn’t have joined that class my entire life would be completely different. The friends and connections I made in that class for four years shaped and transformed my adult life as an actor and as a person. It was my first adult experience being a part of an acting communityand it had a huge impact on me. If you are new to LA or any town and wanting to pursue an acting career, the first thing you need to do is join an acting class and become a part of a community. If the first class you join is not right for you, don’t be disparaged; keep looking until you find the right one.
SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITY
It’s Saturday morning, it’s 10am, I don’t want to say I’m hung over but I’m not, not hung over you know what I’m saying? I am uber pooling to Downtown LA from West Hollywood to go see my friends play reading. Did I want to get up early on a Saturday morning and go to this play reading, honestly no. But I did, because I support my friend and ultimately I was glad I did because I got to see great actors reading and telling great stories and that is worth it. There are of course, countless times, I have seen bad plays and whilst not particularly enjoying the experience, you often learn a lot from just going. It won’t always be possible but if you can go and see your friends play or movie screening and support them because it will likely mean a lot to them and is an opportunity to network and hear and see new work.
CONGRATULATE OTHER ACTORS
Recently, someone I know as an acquaintance booked a big acting job and feeling amazed and excited, I wanted to reach out
personally and congratulate them, yet something stopped me. I started to reflect on the situation and questioned how it might be received. I don’t know this person that well? Are they going to find it strange that I would reach out to them to say congratulations? Could they even question my motives? I wondered about this and remembered the times when I may have booked something or had any level of success for a moment and had people reach out to me. I never found it to be strange or inappropriate, it made me feel loved and supported. The message here is that supporting other actors and congratulating them for their successes is an important and often overlooked part of the acting community, reaching out to other actors in support of their successes enables them to feel valued. This outcome is so incredibly important in an industry where success is so few and far between and validation and support can often come so little.
ASK FOR ADVICE
This past year, more than ever, I have made career decisions that without the actors in my life, I couldn’t have made. I have made countless phone calls to friends unsure of what I should do and without their support; I really would have felt so lost. I have been reminded countless times this year that my decision making process is largely a combination of advice from people I respect and trust and a gut instinct that I can’t explain. Living in LA as an actor, handling different representation, auditions, personalities and maintaining a creative process and dignity is incredibly difficult. We want to make the best decision but sometimes it can be difficult to know what the right outcome even is. As in any profession, we rely on our peers to help us. So, reaching out to actors you trust can be life changing when facing difficult decision-making.
LOVE YOUR COMMUNITY
Writing these articles and therefore routinely reflecting on my life as an actor, I am constantly reminded of a striking juxtaposition in an actors life. An actor must be strong, maintaining a kind of superhuman resilience against the endless treadmill of rejection and radio silence that can fill our creative lives. All the while maintaining softness a truth and vulnerability that allows for an empathetic sprit and connection to the world, this of course is required so we can relate. In order to survive this we need the friendship and support of the actors around us. In writing this article I am reminded of how grateful I am to the people that answer my phone calls, offering constant advice and support and it reminds me of how valuable this is. In an industry of competition and struggle, we can’t forget the value in loving and supporting our peers and creating a community around us that lifts us up, allowing everyone to be the most authentic and creative versions of them selves.