Do You Have What It Takes to Succeed?


Sharon Moist

One of the first questions my clients always ask me is: "What does it take to succeed in this business?"

Now, here's the catch with that question: What It Takes to succeed as an actor, and What You Have To Do to be successful in this business are two different things.

This week we'll look at what it takes to succeed, which primarily consists of two things:

1) Perseverance

2) A Positive Mental Attitude

Connections can certainly help - but only in helping you get your foot in the door. Then, the rest is up to you: your talent, your training, your knowledge, your persistence and your attitude.

It also helps to have an agent or a manager, but it is not a necessity (at least at the beginning), and agents and managers are not god. Believe me, I was an agent, so I know! The agency where I worked discovered Adam Sandler, Jack Black, Halle Berry, T.R. Knight, Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins and Josh Lucas, just to name a few actors whom you may recognize as having successful careers. We also passed on John Travolta and Russell Crowe, so obviously we don't know everything!

To paraphrase what Sir Anthony Hopkins once told soap opera actor Tony Geary (General Hospital), "success in this business is a 'numbers game' and it's just a matter of waiting for your number to come up." (A good definition of perseverance!)

Talent also helps, but as one of my acting teachers once told me, during the pursuit of my own career, "... there are many actors out there working who are less talented than you are, and there are many actors out there who are more talented than you are, who are not working. It really comes down to how badly you want it, and how long you're willing to wait for it."

Personally, I didn't have the patience to wait for it (perseverance), and I certainly wasn't willing to share an apartment with 3 roommates and live on macaroni and cheese for months on end (positive mental attitude), so I moved over to production and worked as a development executive at one of the major studios, before becoming an agent.

I truly believe that anyone who wants to succeed can succeed in this business. I've seen it with my own clients who have accomplished their professional goals at an astonishing rate.

Look at World Class athletes. They are the perfect example of having what it takes to succeed. Before a swimmer ever reaches the Olympics, a tennis player ever reaches the Wimbledon, or a golfer ever reaches the British Open, they have spent thousands upon thousands of hours swimming laps, hitting tennis balls or swinging golf clubs, because no one becomes a world class athlete overnight. Instead, they continue to persevere and stay positive, even when the end is nowhere in sight, because they know that each lap, swing or stroke will bring them closer to their goal.

Wanting an acting career is one thing. Persevering through the tough times, and staying positive when the auditions aren't coming and nothing seems to be working, is a whole other ball game.

Are you up for the challenge?

Copyright 2008 Sharon Moist. All Rights Reserved.


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