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Going For The Gold!

March 20, 2013

I have never been athletic in any way, shape, or form, but I have always felt inspired watching athletes, especially the Olympic athletes. I was recently thinking about the determination, devotion, and hard work it takes for athletes to make it to the Olympics, and I began comparing it to acting. Okay, so actors may not have a team in the Olympics (I wish we did!), but in the end, we are all going after the same thing – the gold! The “gold” is different for most actors. Some see the gold as getting cast in their dream role in a show, working with someone they admire in the biz, getting into a union, getting an agent, etc. Whatever your “gold” is, you are working hard to win it!

Like athletes, we also have to train hard. Maybe we don’t eat a dozen eggs in the morning or swim 7 miles a day, but we have to keep OUR talents in check. Whether that be taking classes, going to seminars/workshops, learning new audition material, or practicing at home- you can never work on your craft enough! Believe me, this is definitely something I have to work on as well. There are many days where I would rather just lie on the couch and watch TV, but I need to remember the discipline that the Olympic athletes have.

Another thing we can learn from the Olympic athletes is to take care of ourselves. Unless you are a stunt actor, you probably don’t have to challenge your body as much as an Olympic athlete. However, running around from audition to audition and from job to job can take a toll on your body. Athletes take good care of their bodies. They eat a nutritional diet and make sure to get plenty of sleep. When you are called in for an audition, you want to do your best. You can’t do your best if you are sick or sleep-deprived!

“I didn’t set out to beat the world; I just set out to do my absolute best.”
–Al Oerter, Discus Thrower

After all that training, working out, and eating well, athletes have to place well in a lot of competitions leading up to the Olympics. They don’t just become Olympic athletes overnight! As actors, we can consider auditions to be our competitions. It’s not about being prettier than the woman auditioning before you, stretching in your competitors’ faces in the holding room, or even (surprise surprise) being better than everyone else auditioning. It’s about doing YOUR best. If you go into the audition room and do your material better than the last audition you had, you have already won the competition. It’s constantly about beating your best- the rest is out of your hands.

“My parents knew fencing wasn’t going to pay the bills. They encouraged me to get the best possible education so I’d have plenty of options when my athletic career was over.”
—Sada Jacobson, Fencer

Even though athletes usually have sponsors by the time they make it big at the Olympics, most have a day job or school when they are not training. They have to find balance between working/school and training. That might mean waking up very early in the morning to train, going to work or school, and training again at night. One thing I constantly struggle with as an actor is finding the balance between my survival job and improving my craft. I need an income in order to support myself as an artist, but sometimes I feel like there is no time. On days when I work a double shift (11-12 hours), I don’t want to think about doing anything BUT going to work and coming home! Recently, I have started trying to wake up earlier and work on something- even if it’s just one project before I go to work. It always makes me feel better. I can go to work knowing I did something for my career, no matter how small. It makes a difference!

“The moment I think about past letdowns or future hypotheticals, I mentally put myself on shaky ground. If I clear my mind of chatter, I can succeed, just like I did in 2006.”
—Julia Mancuso, Alpine Skier

We all know that not every audition is going to go as we planned. We all make mistakes, get nervous, have an off day, or are just not right for the role being cast! Athletes make mistakes too. Sometimes they don’t compete as well as they could have or just have an off day. They still “get back on the horse” and try again. We can’t hold our past mistakes against us. We have to move on and try harder next time. Live in the present, not the past. Definitely another thing I have to keep in mind. As an artist, it can be hard to let things go. It’s so easy to question every decision we make. They always say you have to leave the audition in the room. Make your scene choices and deliver them confidently.

“The things you learn from sports—setting goals, being part of a team, confidence—that’s invaluable. It’s not about trophies and ribbons. It’s about being on time for practice, accepting challenges and being fearful of the elements.” —Summer Sanders, Swimmer

“I think the way to become the best is to just have fun.” –Shaun White, Snowboarder 

I often don’t take the time to enjoy the projects I am working on. Instead, I am stressing over learning the lines/blocking, making the connection with my character, possibly learning songs/choreography, etc. I forget to stop and smell the roses. Acting projects are only temporary, and even though we all want to do the best job possible- we need to enjoy the journey. It will come to an end, and soon you will be wishing you enjoyed the process more. This is another thing I have been working on. There is an appropriate time for everything. Be sure to give yourself permission to take pictures, bond with your castmates, make memories, etc. Enjoy the small successes. Sometimes it is beneficial to look at the “big picture”, but remember to enjoy the journey.

“They may become harder to achieve, but your dreams can’t stop because you’ve hit a certain age or you’ve had a child.”
—Dara Torres, Swimmer

Actors come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and nationalities! You may be right for one role, but not right for another. You can’t let that discourage you. Just because you didn’t get cast in a role, doesn’t mean you are not talented. Whether you are cast or not depends on a lot of things. It can depend on height, eye color, whether you match well with the leading man/lady, or even if you happen to look like the casting director/producer/writer/etc.’s ex-spouse whom they have hard feelings towards. Don’t take it personally.

If you haven’t felt inspired reading these awesome quotes, here is one more (my personal favorite and new mantra)-
“If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.”
—Carl Lewis, Track and Field

The Growing Artist Signature

2 Comments leave one →
  1. The Reflective Artist permalink
    March 21, 2013 8:21 am

    Thank you so much for this post. It helped me immensely and kicked me out the door when I needed it yesterday. I got so much door–much more than I had even planned. And the motivation to do so was largely brought about by reading this post.

    Thank you for affecting change!

    • The Growing Artist permalink
      March 22, 2013 5:43 pm

      I am so glad this post helped inspire you! Thank you so much for your comment. It really brightened my day 🙂

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