Hello! This is a blog/article I wrote in 2016. Nobody has seen it but me. Whilst re-reading it today I thought that it might be useful/helpful to somebody out there who may be experiencing a similar situation. With that in mind, I thought I’d like to share it with the ‘Honest Actors’ blog readers 🙂 I hope you find it beneficial.

Since writing this blog two years ago, my luck did change. I began work on a new job shortly afterwards. This job lasted four months. I now find myself in a similar situation; not knowing what is next acting wise! However, I carry on in good faith that ‘All will be well’ and ‘This too shall pass’. But it is difficult! Of course it is.

Life is full of ups and downs. We do not know what is around the corner. All we can do is be ready and look after ourselves as best we can in the meantime. To be our own best friend. To keep those dreams alive. They are what carry us through the fallow times; they are the fire burning brightly within. Keep it lit and well fuelled. Keep going. Moving forward. Step by step.

Sending best wishes your way and thanks so much for reading.                                 

Lorna 🙂 x    

Hello readers. What is it I want to share? My experience I guess. My experience right now. And what is that? It is one of insecurity, not knowing what’s next, it is one of fear, it is one of darkness, and it is one of vulnerability, fragility, raw energy and emotion.

I am a female actor. I’m 32. Next year, it will be ten years since I graduated from actor training. As I get older, the panic is setting in. What if my dreams don’t come true? What if it doesn’t work out for me? What if I look too old and aged and wrinkly and not attractive enough for casting directors? How much longer can I keep my body in fit and slim enough condition? How much energy have I left in me to continue pursuing this ambition to earn a successful living as an actor? How much more can I take?

Right now, I am very unhappy. I feel unfulfilled in my life situation, right now. It’s not always like that, but when I’m not working/acting, the self-criticism, pity, comparisons to others, questioning of future prospects and general fear and anxiety set in. I feel like I am the only one in this situation. It is like I am walking around and completely separate and ‘other’ from the world around me. My rationale is, because I am not working, I am a failure.

The ironic thing is, I am actually working, just not acting work. I teach drama and I work part-time in a restaurant. But from my point of view, because it is not acting work, it is not fulfilling me in a way that acting does. Whilst I appreciate that I am earning a few bob and I really do enjoy teaching, a part of me feels a little hollow when not engaged in some element of performance. I feel like a failure in the eyes of any colleagues I meet socially. It’s like my part-time job stands for nothing. As the days go on, and the gap between now and my last professional acting engagement increases, I find myself withdrawing more, and feeling like I will soon be forgotten if something does not present itself to me soon.

I have been here before, when I felt like “This is it. My purple patch with acting is over, and you just have to pack up your bags and go back to college and study to become a teacher.” But miraculously, something comes up, and this barren period of doubt, fear, gloom, resentment, anger, hurt, disappointment and depression fades into my distant memory, and I suddenly have a spring in my step, my eyes look brighter, my cheeks are glowing and I’m smiling naturally…….and I wear nice clothes and even some nice make-up. I feel good, I feel energised, I feel hope, I feel happy, I feel like an actor!

Before this, it really is a trudge. A thought occurred to me today whilst in the gym, about all the different things that are difficult to hear/see/experience when going through a lean period work-wise as a creative artist. I don’t know if the following will apply to you, but here’s a few that come to my mind.

  • Monday mornings – people getting up early and getting ready to go to work. A reminder that I don’t have anywhere to be on a Monday morning. I’m not getting up to go to work. I get up and go for a run, and pass lots of traffic with people wearing suits and work outfits and expressions of purpose and a sense of having to be somewhere. I envy that.
  • Being in the gym during the day. I feel embarrassed and ashamed that I can be in the gym at 11am. Don’t I have anywhere else to be? I look around at the other people and wonder why they can be in the gym at this time? What is their story?
  • Twitter and social media posts from actor friends promoting plays/films/TV shows that they are working on. I feel bad that I find this so hard, but again, it’s just a reminder to me that I’m not working. They are barrelling forward with exciting opportunities. Meanwhile, I feel stagnant, stunted and left behind.
  • Social media in general I find hard, but it seems like a necessary networking tool to have in this modern world. But I don’t enjoy it. Everything is so fast moving, I often feel like I can’t keep up.
  • Meeting well-meaning colleagues randomly in the street and having to explain that it’s “quite quiet at the moment…..etc etc!” I feel ashamed and I imagine them telling mutual friends, “Oh I just bumped into X, very quiet at the moment. Not working! Poor thing. Hopefully it will pick up soon.” I don’t want that to happen, so maybe that’s why I try to avoid that happening by limiting social engagements and withdrawing until…….the phone rings and I GET A JOB! Then I’ll swing back into action! (But I know that’s not good….but maybe it’s a tincy wincy bit true😕).
  • Being available for things. Sometimes I don’t want to be so available. I want to be busy and having to turn down requests to be places, because I need to learn lines, prepare for a great audition, have to travel with work etc. Having a clean diary is not always a good thing!

I felt compelled to write something for this blog. Because I am going through a quiet period since early August, it is very raw for me right now – that sense of not being “in anything at the moment”. I’ve procrastinated and doubted my ability to put my thoughts together, but here it is, and I hope that perhaps you might be able to relate to some of my thoughts. It’s not a ground-breaking piece and I don’t think you’ll find it funny……but I just tried to be frank, open, honest and say it as it is. I hope that light will emerge soon from this tunnel that I’m in. This profession is not easy. We often only hear the success stories, and rarely hear the stories of struggle and near nervous breakdown! It challenges us and requires us to be vessels of steel, with sheer self-belief, resilience, confidence, talent, charisma, beauty, versatility, and to be ultra adaptable to whatever is put before us.

It’s the hurdles we have to jump over to get to that place on stage or on screen that is the most challenging part. If we can master the self-care, compassion and belief to wade through the choppy waters in advance of the calm sea of security, reward and promise, then we will most certainly be the most appreciative, generous, hard-working and grounded actors alive, because we will know what it’s like in the down times, the quiet times, the lonely times, the barren times, the times of insecurity, financial fear, self-doubt, self-pity and existential crisis.

I hope that I can look back on this time, and feel blessed that I had the experience to go through a period in my life where I truly did not know what was next for me, but that I felt deep down, that I had something to offer the world, in terms of my acting, and that that enabled me to carry on and drive forward. I hope that I can be an example of someone who struggled, worked, struggled again for a while, got some more nice work, and eventually ended up working quite consistently and managed to earn a nice living from this wonderful profession.

I love acting, and the reason I’m not feeling very happy at the moment, is because I’m not doing what I love. At least I know the answer to eliminate this period of discontentment. I could just say “Sod it” and pack it in. But I don’t want to do that. Something in me is driving me forward, with an inner belief that now is not the time to close the shutters on this aspect of my life. It’s what I live for, and I hold tight to that hope that one day my agent will ring, and share with me the news that “I got the part!”, and that I’ll be back on the acting carousel with all of my other actor friends. I will then feel like an ‘actor’. Right now, I’m in the wings. The lights are out and I’m not needed. There is lots of activity happening around me and people are coming and going, but I’m quietly going about my business, hoping that I can just about hold it together as I cling to hope and good faith that my time to shine under the lights is not too far away.

Thanks for reading,

Lorna 🙂 x

Series 3 of the podcast is now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Acast. Episodes already released feature full-length interviews with Adrian Lester, Joanna Scanlan, Tom Riley, Kate Fleetwood, Sarah Ball and Jonjo O’Neill. Click here to listen!

Series 1 & 2 are also available free, along with a special live episode for Equity recorded in November 2018, and follow-up inteaviews with all seven of the emerging actors, conducted in October. Go have a listen

Lorna Quinn

Lorna Quinn. Actor. VO. Speech & Drama Teacher. Tentative(!) writer. Great appreciator of this site, blog and podcast.