When we think about “work”, what are some words that pop into your mind? Stress, chore, pressure, nervousness–do those sound like fun?
I’m gonna guess that majority of you said no. But when we show up to our work as an actor, it should be FUN! Whether it’s an audition or on set–we love what we do, and the last thing we should be putting on ourselves is any of those yucky words up there. But we so often do that to ourselves.
We show up worried about whether we’re gonna be what they’re “looking for”, if I’m “good enough”, if I’ll remember my lines, if I’m gonna book the job, or–If we’ve booked the job–whether or not I’m gonna screw it all up. Sound familiar?
We categorize these emotions as just “being nervous”, like this is out of our control. But I’m here to tell you, that’s not true! Physiologically, being nervous is the same as being EXCITED!
Let that sink in.
So all those times that you’ve been nervous or excited about something, the same thing is happening in your body: sweaty palms, heart palpitations, maybe some butterflies in the stomach–we’ve just been telling ourselves the reason why. And based on what our own self-critic has been saying in our head, that’s when we label it nervousness or excitement!
Now that we know that–why would we EVER want to go back to being nervous?
You may be thinking “but how do we change how we think?”
One easy way to try to flip the switch to being excited rather than nervous, is to look at going into and audition or going on set as being there to play, rather than work. After all, that’s what we love about acting–isn’t it?
We’re not supposed to show up rigid in our choices or obsessing about every single line–we’re there to bring the story alive. To be creative and imaginative. To make choices that are personal to us, that will make casting go “hmm, that was interesting”. We’re there to say “yes” to direction, “yes” to suggestions, “yes” to cooperating to bring a piece of art together.
So the next time you have an audition or are heading to set, just remember: Don’t show up ready to work, SHOW UP READY TO PLAY!