What to do if those around you don't support your acting career | Surviving Actors column

Many actors I know have wanted to be an actor for a very long time. Perhaps they were inspired by a childhood film or loved the feeling of ‘being on stage’ when they were in a school production. 

When did you know you wanted to be an actor? What was the deciding moment? Who did you tell first? 

When people ask you, ‘So what do you do?’ and you tell them, what do they say? What do they want to know? What are the questions they ask? 

You may have made the decision to be an actor many years ago, during a discussion in the school playground. Or acting may have always been a passion of yours that you are revisiting in later life. Whatever your path, I’m sure your decision sparks some opinion. 

So what happens if your friends and family don’t agree with your decision? What do you say during a particularly dry spell, when you know you will get a simple ‘Told you so’.

I’m sure you are familiar with the spectrum of emotions we encounter as actors. On landing an amazing job, we feel elated and exhilarated. But when we don’t get the job, or even worse, come so close and then don’t get it, our confidence and outlook can take a hammering. During those bleaker times, we really need the support of our loved ones to cheer us up and spur us on. 

However, what do you do if the support isn’t there? What do you do if you feel misunderstood? 

Here are 5 strategies that can help you ease any animosity. 

1. Understanding

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. What is their perspective? Why don’t they agree with your career choice? What has formed their ideas? Experience? Fear? Lack of knowledge? 

What piece of information is missing that you could share? What parts of the industry do they relate to? List some possible conversation starters.

2. Identify

Who does support your vision? Friends? Fellow actors? A mentor? A coach? A teacher? Who makes you feel great about being an actor? Book in some regular time with them and during that time, be proactive. Don’t spend the time moaning that nobody understands; share ideas and join forces so you can make it happen. Hold each other accountable and help the other person to set targets and goals so they remain focused and proactive.

3. Step into an entrepreneurial mindset

Often the acting industry is frowned upon due to its job insecurity. As the majority of acting jobs are contract based, the likelihood is, you will be ‘out of work’ for some of the time. With this in mind, be inventive. Don’t assign yourself to just waiting for the phone to ring, get busy. Sometimes there is a glamour attached to the ‘struggling artist’ but you don’t have to be one. If you are being seen to be proactive, upbeat and flourishing, you are more likely to invite a positive reaction. Be creative in your thinking and look for ways you can earn money, honour your commitments and still be available for auditions. By adopting this mindset, you will be able to support yourself and maintain a strong position. 

4.  Take the advice from those who can give it

Surround yourself with people in the know and create a tool kit of knowledge (videos,podcasts, books etc). Sometimes, when we are experiencing a lull, we ask for help but are not selective in who we ask. Before long, you are receiving advice from your hairdresser, lady in shop, your mum’s best friend or a man in a local pub. Make the decision to get the help you need and from informative places. 

5.   Be careful when you share

This applies to social media and in the flesh. Sometimes there isa temptation to take everyone through the whole process; the call from your agent,  the audition preparation, the audition, the recall, the pencil, the call to say you didn’t get it etc. But it isn’t necessary. In sharing every layer of the story, you can subconsciously add more pressure to yourself. The external opinions of those around can come into play and take you out of the present moment of the job. If it helps, share only with a couple of people and then share the good news when you have it. 

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