The Actor's Sanity Test

by Mark Brandon

Illustration of mind

Here's an effective remedy for recovery when you find the endless rounds of auditions are starting to wear you down.

As an actor, you know how exhilarating it is to learn you've just landed a part. Moreover, you also know the bitter feeling of being turned down approximately nineteen times out of twenty before you're hired. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just a beginner, the fact remains that it's not always easy dealing with dashed hopes. As a matter of fact, nearly every actor at one time or another falls into the familiar, yet vicious self-esteem trap.

When you begin to derive your entire sense of fulfillment and personal worth exclusively from the outcome of your auditions, then you can be sure you're in the trap. And you'll always find ample opportunity there to give in to feelings of inadequacy or depression because the number of rejections to number of jobs actually attained is always larger. In essence, you end up postponing the joy of living by waiting for someone else to give you permission to be happy.

Whenever you find the endless rounds of auditions are starting to wear you down, herding you into the trap, take heart. There's an effective remedy. And it starts to work once you take the simple sanity test for actors.

This test consists only of one, basic question that you ask yourself: "If the art or craft of acting never even existed, what else would I be doing--what would be my consuming passion?"

If pondered carefully and answered honestly, the response can have amazing effects. Clearly identifying another worthwhile pursuit impels you to grow in new and different ways by summoning additional, unused resources. In short, it effectively galvanizes your potential into action. Instead of lying around, grousing about your "down time" (nothing going on acting-wise) you can set yourself to work on an entirely different but equally stimulating endeavor. Without waiting for permission from anybody, you can jump right into this "other life," getting involved in a fulfilling, secondary passion.

Besides acting, what is your secondary passion? Is it dancing? Music? Composing? How about even starting your own business? As an example, one actor used his down time rescuing lost pets from the ravines and canyons surrounding Los Angeles. Interestingly enough, he turned out to be quite successful at it. Later, he even founded a society that drew the attention and financial support of many celebrities.

Why not insulate yourself from the self-esteem trap right at this moment? Elect to take the test. Once you've identified your other passion, you'll begin to have insights into fresh plans or activities you can get involved in at a moment's notice. Thus, when any audition fails to come through as you'd like, you'll be surprised at how quickly any distressed feelings evaporate as a result of your other pursuit. And, most important, you'll keep your sanity, never again having to wait for "the powers that be" to say when you're allowed to feel good about yourself.
Mark Brandon is a native Californian who now makes his home in Vancouver, BC. He has appeared in over 100 commercials, films and TV series. For more audition strategies and career building advice, visit:

The preceding was an excerpt from the best selling acting book, "Winning Auditions - 101 Strategies for Actors" (Limelight Editions, NY) written by Mark Brandon.

Copyright © Mark Brandon. Used with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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