So I just had a breakthrough, even though it’s been in front of my eyes since I was little.
Has that ever happened to you?
You hear something for years and it doesn’t totally make sense/you think you understand, and then BAM one day it hits you?? The marquee finally blinks in all of its’ glory!
Mine went a little something like this:
So, there’s a famous sign: “PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY” that hangs in stairwell between the Norte Dame football locker room and the tunnel to the field. Tradition states that all the players touch the wall on their way out before game day. My dad is an ND alum, so we had a replica hanging in our basement growing up. Later, as I was choosing colleges- I ended up choosing UNC because I saw that same sign in a stairwell at the theatre department, only it read “ACT LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY”. A literal sign I should go there.
Now flash-forward to post college, living in LA and my acting teacher said something along the lines of “LA is the Olympics of acting, so you better train (aka rehearse, practice, read scripts etc.) all the time if you are going to make it in this sea of actors”.
And even with all of these sports metaphors, I was still thinking about myself as an “actor” and weirdly that meant I felt guilty about getting help– I needed to figure it all out on my own because that’s what the great actors do right?? They just find the character, they know the beats of the scene, where it needs to go to tell the writer’s story etc. The greats do it all on their own.
And it’s ironic too because part of the reason I love what I am doing is I constantly get to LEARN. I’m a student of life, as corny as that sounds. But subconsciously I was blocking out help.
But recently it clicked. The “BAM” moment happened during another acting class, as the teacher- a series regular actress- said her career changed when she started thinking about her auditions with an athlete’s mentality. No longer were they this big once in a lifetime, must book or fail situations. Auditions became a game. This meant she was still training, approaching the text from a writer’s stand point and making the strongest choices based on what was on the page BUT she then scored herself post audition like she had just played a game of basketball. That took the audition more into her hands and totally changed her dynamic in the room.
*Most* athletes don’t beat themselves up after all of their losses– because statistically you can’t win them all. Instead, they look at game tapes and work on improving their plays so next time around they can give it a better shot. By approaching acting with the same mentality, it has allowed me to reimagine what winning and losing look like. I feel more in control because I know I have the tools, and can keep training on the parts that aren’t up to par (pun intended).
Not saying this is the way. It’s just the way that I now approach my work- and maybe it’ll help you, regardless of your profession. The same principles can be applied.
Now that the marquee’s lights are flashing (thank God!) I don’t need to feel less than because I work through scenes with an acting coach or another actor (aka teammate). And winning doesn’t just come in the form of booking the job. It comes from keep track of growth in the audition room, classroom and onscreen, of being consistent and great at what I do. Being an athlete means showing up to all days like they’re game days; ready to utilize the training, while also trusting your teammates, coaches and your own worth–and ultimately “PLAYING LIKE A CHAMPION” all the damn time.