3 Ways to Guarantee Success as an Actor

If I told you that in three steps, you could guarantee your success as an actor, would you do it?

Considering how turbulent an acting career can be, my guess is that if you knew there were three things you could do to make 100% sure you were successful in this arena, you’d do them!

In fact, what I’m about to share with you isn’t revolutionary. These ideas have been around for a while, but I think it’s important to keep sharing them because even though they’re floating through our collective actor consciousness, so many of us choose not to live by them.

So here we go. Follow these three steps to guarantee your success as an actor.

Step 1: Define and Re-define What Success Means to You

What does “success” mean to you, exactly? Can you be ultra-specific about what your life would look like if you were an acting “success”?

I have one actress friend in Los Angeles who was asked this question recently. Her answer was, “Well, success to me would mean writing my own scripts, producing them and acting in them.”

As soon as the words came out of her mouth she realized that she was already a success according to this definition! She had already written, produced and acted in independent feature films. In that moment, she re-defined her measure of success as, “Success to me means writing, producing and acting in my own films that have movie stars in the lead roles.”

Now that’s specific. Before that exercise, she had generally felt like she wasn’t a success but she wasn’t quite sure why.

So often we have a nebulous sense of what success actually is, and it’s different for each person. We don’t stop to define what it means to us – does it mean working on stage at Steppenwolf? Does it mean being an ensemble member of a Broadway tour? Does it mean shaking hands with Kevin Spacey as you step on set to work with him?

For this step, think about what you really believe success would mean. What is the ultra-specific scenario that you envision when you hear the word “success”? Bonus points if you leave your answer in the comment section below.

Step 2: Put Success in Your Own Hands

Okay, now you’ve defined what success actually means to you, but we’re not done yet. Having “success” mean simply that you win an Oscar isn’t a recipe for success. I’m not saying that you’ll never win an Oscar – because you just might! I’m saying that when our success depends on other people’s actions and choices, we can never truly succeed.

I love what Dallas Travers says about the Academy Awards:

“The first step to winning an Oscar is filling your fridge.” SHARE on Twitter. 

That statement is genius because it’s so true but we often overlook it! You can’t win a prestigious acting award if you’re starving (Jared Leto aside) because it’s impossible to take the necessary action steps if you’re not nourished, healthy and vibrant.

Take a moment to consider your definition of success. How can you re-work that statement so that it puts the reins back in your hands?

"Success lives in the actions you take, not the results you make."
~Dallas Travers

For instance, if your definition of success is to win an Oscar, let’s look at that more closely. Winning an Oscar is usually a result of giving a noteworthy performance in a project an actor cares about very much. Normally that person is highly regarded in the industry already, and surrounded by a team of elements working in her favor (agents, managers, supportive friends and family, a full fridge!).

Know what it takes to achieve your goal, really. If you’re a young actor who has only recently moved to New York City to pursue a dream, the first step may be to get your feet on solid ground. Get a job to keep the rent paid. Make friends who will be your support system and find an acting class that keeps you engaged and pushes you to grow.

Each of those pieces are success elements in your overall plan to win an Oscar. Which leads me to the next segment...

Step 3: Make SMART Goals

Once you have broken down your large definition of “success” into smaller pieces you can tackle them at will.

Many of us have heard the idea of setting “S.M.A.R.T.” goals. It’s an acronym that stands for, “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based."

Let’s look at this with our previous example in mind: you want to win an Oscar, but you’re fresh off the Kansas train and you need to establish yourself in the big city. You need a job. Here’s how we break this down:

Specific: I want a job that pays at least $12/hour and has flexible hours so I can go to auditions at the last minute when I need to.

Measurable: I’ll know I have achieved this goal when I get a phone call with a job offer.

Attainable: Based on what I know about myself and what I know about the New York City job market, I believe that I can achieve this goal.

Relevant: This goal is relevant to my bigger definition of success because the first step to winning an Oscar is to fill the fridge!

Time-Based: I will achieve this goal in the next three weeks because that’s when my savings will run out.

I don’t know about you, but I think this process is invigorating! Imagine that you break down all your goals this way, into attainable, mini-steps that all lead toward the bigger goal of winning an Oscar.

And there you have it. When success is defined by parameters that you control, as opposed to giving other people the keys to your happiness, it is 100% possible to become the success you envision.

Here’s one final insight: you already are a success. When you actively choose to pursue your dream as an artist, you are a success. And now you have my full permission to keep expanding and growing along your journey!

Keep working toward your goals, because the world needs to hear your voice! If you’d like a little assistance along your journey, let’s talk. Click HERE to set up a time to speak with me directly.

Courtney Rioux, The Whole Artist coaches actors and other creative talent who feel stuck in their career and want more out of life. She's here to help you shift your mindset from stuck and unhappy to empowered and joyful — all while making it feel fun and easy. It’s like therapy without the therapy.