What do you do if your longtime actor friend gets her big break before you do? You’re happy for her, of course, but it might bring up major feelings of “compare and despair” for you at the same time.
Obviously, it’s not always easy being friends or roommates or lovers with another actor. There’s some ego involved. Sure. You’re only human. And this industry has an undercurrent of competition flowing through it.
So how can you turn those debilitating feelings into ones that help you progress both in your relationships and in your career? I’ve got 3 suggestions for you.
1. Set Boundaries
I heard a story once about the famous acting couple, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, and how they survived living in a tiny New York apartment. Their secret was hats. They each had a hat they would wear when they needed some space or time alone.
The other person knew exactly what that hat meant and, if they saw their partner wearing it, they would not bother them until the hat was off. It was their own little secret language to get things done or just take a break from each other because their physical space didn’t allow for escape to another room. Genius.
Jessica herself once said, “It’s hard sometimes…but we always manage to give ourselves space. We don’t live in each other’s pockets. We don’t take the play home with us. We do make suggestions to each other, and if we don’t agree we respect each other’s views.”
So, what are your boundaries? Do you want avoid talking shop when you’re out socially? Or maybe you want to set rules around complaining. Perhaps for you, boundaries look like setting office hours for your acting so your life feels more balanced.
Whatever they are, get clear about your boundaries for yourself and then share those expectations with the other actors in your life. And while you’re at it, remember to treat your friend with the same respect you do in a strictly professional relationship. They will thank you.
2. Turn Your Creativity into Creation
If you really want to get along with your fellow actors, staying grounded and focused on your own journey is key. But let’s be real… jealousy and a little competitiveness are often a natural side effect of the business.
Use the feelings of jealousy or envy you have as fuel to create more. Work on your one woman show, write a blog post, pick up the phone and ask for a meeting with your ideal agent. Rather than wallow and wish things were different, take action. You don’t need to wait to feel better to do this, just take action and your feelings will shift.
Action is the best cure for jealousy, confusion or all around stuckness.
3. Celebrate each other’s successes
One tactic for harmony between actors is to give each other kudos whenever possible. It may be hard to do, however, especially when your peers are working and you’re not. But, sometimes, taking the focus off yourself can actually help free you up for more opportunities to come in.
Try taking the high road when you need to and express your joy for your friend’s success, even if you currently feel less than successful. This support will greatly strengthen your relationship with a fellow actor. You could actually promote their gigs. Maybe interview them on your blog or post your pride on Facebook. And, if you need to, ask your actors friends to do the same for you.
In the same way that you need to make a plan for your career success, you can plan to navigate how you will handle your fellow actors’ successes. Set clear boundaries, get creative, and celebrate each other’s successes for harmony on and off the stage. Actor relationships can have happy endings, you just need to be an active participant in the plot.
What are some ways you and your actor friends make it work?
Let me know if the comments below.