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Please Don’t Feed The Beast

A very fine actress recently told me that she looked up other actor’s self-tapes online after submitting her own. After noting that one particular gal’s performance was “trash,” she was shocked and devastated that this same gal was at the callback… and it almost threw her in the room.

What we pay attention to – what we feed ourselves – has a great impact on our creative and inner life. So are you doing what you can to take care of your artist? Or are you succumbing to the beast within? Which are you feeding? Let’s look:

The Artist. She loves what she does with all her heart. She adores the craft, digs deep and is courageously vulnerable. She gives herself wholeheartedly to the characters and story, creating beautifully complex human beings. She’s excited by healthy collaboration and listens openly. She’s playful, smart, vulnerable, creative, empathetic, messy, present and constantly making rich, delicious discoveries. She loves and is grateful for every opportunity she gets to play.

The Smart Adult. This gal pays attention to the industry. She manages all the tactile things like headshots, agents/managers, classes, coaches, networking, research about TV show/movie development, research about CD’s, rent, and having more than just peanut butter in the fridge. She’s smart, observant, level-headed, professional and organized. And she knows – in her bones, she knows – other people’s decisions (like CD’s) are completely out of her control, so she just does what she can and lets The Artist play while she chooses the best headshots.

And then we have…

The Jealous Beast. This thing is RAVENOUS. It sniffs out (unsubstantiated) proof of either the artist’s superiority or her inferiority. The Beast demeans The Artist by comparing her to her “competitors” everywhere: in class, from her high school/college and in the CD’s lobby. The Beast loves to point and say, “See? She’s trash” or “See? You’re trash.” The Beast celebrates The Artist’s crying over being “less than” anyone, be it a model, an established actress, whoever booked the job, or a woman with blonde hair.

The Beast equally loves when The Artist helplessly pounds her chest, demanding everyone recognize just how gosh-darn awesome she is, better than anyone else, in fact. The Beast slurps this up like a delicious ego milkshake.

The Beast feeds greedily on frustration, competition, comparison, helplessness and the desperate attempt to control every aspect of the uncontrollable.

And The Beast is never, ever sated.

When you feed the beast, it grows powerful and strong, stomping on the Artist and crushing the Smart Adult into uselessness. It bloats green with envy, eclipsing any shred of colorful creativity The Artist experiences. If you’re not careful, it can win.

So, please don’t feed the beast. Watching other submissions is feeding the beast. Getting mad because they went with a different type is feeding the beast. Being frustrated because the industry will consider both trained actors and reality stars is feeding the beast. Wanting them to like you is feeding the beast.

Feed the artist, starve the beast. Do the work you love. Love the work you do. Find new ways to be creative. Create your own work. Put down your phone and fill the well. Rejoice in every minute you get to play. Be grateful for creativity and collaboration. Keep fortifying your artist and don’t ever stop. If you feed The Artist, The Beast will shrink and shrink while you just keep on playing.

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