Building Resilience in College Acting Students

Building Resilience in College Acting Students

Resilience is the ability to “bounce back” from adversity or negative events, and there is a bit of a crisis going on with it in today’s college acting students. More and more are being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and some people blame increased school and college workloads and constant ability testing. There are, of course, a lot of other factors at play here too, which teachers and students have no control over - but for the areas we can make a difference in, read on.

For acting college students:

Keep perspective. Ok, so you fluffed the audition and you’re ready to hang up your acting hat and go and work in a supermarket. Stop, and have a look at the bigger picture: there will be hundreds, if not thousands more auditions! Pick yourself up, dust off your pride, and try again.

Build good connections. Having a support network around you is really important, so try to connect with your peers. In an acting college situation this shouldn’t be too difficult, as there will be many other students on the same course as you, with the same dreams, so you can support each other.

Learn coping strategies. If you know you don’t deal well with what you construe as criticism, try to turn it around in your head. No one at acting college will be trying to bring you down or destroy your dreams; quite the opposite! Try to view “criticism” as an honest attempt to improve your work and help you succeed in the future.

Practise mindfulness. This is an increasingly popular technique, and for good reason. Mindfulness can help you put your problems into perspective, and will teach you ways of moving on from them, as well as coping with them in the first place.

Take rejection. Sometimes you’re just not right for the part. That’s a fact of life! Not everyone can win the audition; sometimes there’s only one part and a hundred actors who want it. You’ll have to get used to being rejected if you want to be an actor - if every rich and famous actor today had given up at the first rejection there would literally be no actors.

Stay positive. There is always another job out there; another audition; another chance at the big time. Keep a hopeful outlook, count your many blessings, and you should find that more opportunities come your way than if you give up college acting and mope in your bedroom.

Take care of yourself. Along with all the hard work, auditions and acting college training, you need to make time for a bit of self care. Go out for a coffee with a friend, phone your mum, go for a barefoot walk around the park - whatever helps you feel relaxed and grounded.

For college acting teachers:

Give praise. We’re not talking over-enthusiastically shouting about a college acting student’s abilities, but give credit where it’s due in an honest fashion, and you will be helping develop self confidence.

Develop good relationships. Getting to know your students well is key here, as it means you can spot their individual quirks and foibles, and learn how to best support each one.

Teach resilient thinking. I know you’re there to teach acting, not help a bunch of snowflake kids get over their emotional issues. But think of this as part of your teaching remit; by helping them develop their resilience you are actually helping them further their career too - as we all know, resilience is a big part of being an actor. 

Mental health is a big issue these days. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t suffer, or doesn’t know someone who suffers with anxiety, depression or any one of the other myriad issues that face us in life. There are ways that you can get over your insecurities and build your resilience - the first step is to ask for help. The second step is to take it. After that, the world - and the acting college world - is your oyster!


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The 12 Obstacles

One of the biggest obstacles to a successful acting career is the inner critic, the voice in your head, but there are many more.

In this free advice guide, Acting Coach and Performance Psychology expert Mark Westbrook outlines the most common inner obstacles to success and offers you insightful and practical tools for overcoming them.

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