Everyone loves a good superhero. And if you put them all in the same room, you'd see that they all have the same superpower: The ability to improve. Their commitment to getting better is one of the biggest reasons we root for superheroes.
From Rick Blaine in CASABLANCA to King T’Challa in BLACK PANTHER, we root for these heroes as they charter new lands and a journey of growth; a growth that has them constantly working toward bettering themselves.
So is the case in real life.
We always want to be a better version of ourselves. But those people who succeed in this quest, who improve the most, are those who do so deliberately.
This holds true for actors or anyone in the entertainment industry.
You must always be actively improving yourself, no matter where you are in your career.
The second you stop improving, that’s when your growth as an actor and a person stops … and it’s when it gets harder to root for yourself to succeed.
To that end, I recommend that you ask yourself these five questions that will help you hone in on what you want to improve, why, and how you’re going to do it.
1) What are You Trying to Improve?
“Talent” is somewhat of an abstract idea, so I hope didn’t just answer that. When you’re thinking about what you want to improve in your life, you should be thinking about clear, actionable things.
When you think about improvement in a purely abstract sense, you risk overlooking the gradual positive steps you need to take to get there. Identifying action items like “I’ll read two scripts/week” or “I’ll go to one networking event/week” allows you to appreciate the progress you’re making and not get bogged down by feeling you’re not moving as fast as you’d like.
Maybe you want to be more aggressive about networking.
Maybe you want to work on your auditioning skills.
Maybe you want to cultivate a different skill that could help you in your acting career, like learning how to edit together a reel for yourself.
Whatever it is, it’s got to be something specific, concrete, and actionable. And most of all, it must be something that you truly want to work on.
The more motivated you are from the get-go, the more likely you are to succeed.
2) What is Your Process for Trying to Improve?
It’s more valuable to look at the contributing pieces to your end goal rather than the goal itself. You can improve in your field through practice and training, certainly, but how are you going to practice and train?
Get in the mindset of thinking holistically about the process it will take to reach your goal, and write that process out. Compare it to what you’re currently doing and be honest with yourself. What’s easy to do, what’s a little more difficult?
It’s important to take stock of where you are so that you can chart the logical next step. You may, in your current process, already have a layer of foundation that you can build upon in your journey to self-improvement.
If, for instance, you want to network more, and you’re already making a new contact every week, you have a base to work from.
On the flip side, it’s OK if you’re starting with nothing — as long as you know where you’re coming from, you have nowhere to go but up.
3) What are the Biggest Roadblocks to Your Process?
There are a lot of obstacles on the road to success.
When you’re continuing to think about the building blocks of the process, you can more easily identify the roadblocks, too.
Night shift keeping you from your prime thinking hours? Look into trading shifts.
Identifying the practical roadblocks to your process is the first step in eliminating them entirely. It’s the easiest thing in the world to dream of something, but it’s a whole lot harder to turn that dream into action. And what stops more people than anything is an unexpected obstacle.
Just think about how many New Year’s resolutions fall through the second someone’s schedule fills up so they can’t go to the gym, or a break-up happens so it’s too stressful to quit smoking.
But if you plan ahead and think through what the roadblocks will be, you’ll be able to work against them before they even show up.
4) How Can You Eliminate Those Roadblocks?
Some things will always be outside of your control so focus only on what is. The amount of time you can devote to reading, studying, learning new skills, meeting new people. Maintaining a positive attitude.
You’re not going to be able to rework an agent’s schedule so she shows up at your one-man show but you can put in the hard work and treat the people you meet well. When you can identify the roadblocks that are within your control and take steps to overcome them, the ones that aren’t in your control may just work themselves out.
Let’s say you want to work on your audition technique, but you have no way to talk to a casting director about how you perform in a room. It may seem like an impenetrable roadblock, but why not invite some actor friends over for a mock audition?
Everyone gets a turn auditioning, and then everyone else gives them feedback following.
You may not be getting that feedback directly from the source, but you will be getting plenty of notes from other people working in the business.
And just like that, you’re back on the road to improvement.
5) What Specific Area Will You Focus On?
What one area will you focus on eliminating or improving moving forward, and how specifically will you implement those improvements? This echoes the prevailing theme of keeping it simple and actionable. Nobody has the time or energy to completely overhaul their life at the drop of a hat.
Rather, zero in on one action item and devote yourself to it. Break down the process further. When you’ve committed to improving that one area of your overarching process, other good things will follow.
Be specific. Don’t just say, “I’m going to have a better reel,” or, “I’m going to go on more auditions.” Know how you’re going to get there, and layout specific steps.
Create manageable goals for yourself that you can work towards over the course of the next year. And then, once the year’s up, take stock of how much you’ve improved … and find something new to work on for the coming year.
The greatest heroes of film and television always work towards improving themselves and achieving their goals. That’s what makes them compelling, more than their looks or talents.
It’s the unflinching need to do better. Model your own careers on that and you’ll always be working towards success.
Other Stage 32 posts by Brian:
Brian Medavoy is an award-winning producer and manager who has been
in the entertainment business for nearly 25 years. In that time he has emerged
as one of Hollywood’s top talent representatives, helping to craft the early
careers of actors such as Ryan Reynolds, Tobey Maguire, Josh Brolin, David
Schwimmer, Jason Bateman, and Maria Bello, among others.
More-Medavoy merged with powerhouse managers Susan Bymel and Evelyn O’Neill
in 1999 to form Talent Entertainment Group. Under their combined banner,
TEG continued to represent A-list talent while developing film and television projects
for their clients. One of those projects, the highly-acclaimed PBS series “American High,”
garnered Medavoy an Emmy award for Outstanding Non-Fiction Program (Reality).
The documentary series followed fourteen students from Highland Park High School in Illinois for one year.
A Los Angeles native, Medavoy has deep roots in the entertainment industry.
His father, prolific film producer Mike Medavoy, is the co-founder of Orion Pictures,
former chairman of TriStar Pictures and current chairman and CEO of Phoenix Pictures.
Brian attended UCLA where he majored in history.
Learn more at: Brian Medavoy
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