There will always be somebody who’s not as good at what you do as you are, and there will always be somebody who’s better. Kathy Burke told me that. It’s the one thing that has always kept my feet on the ground.

Matthew Horn

It is inevitable that as an actor you will fail at some point. You could pull off a real bum-hummer of a performance or the project you were in could implode and bomb spectacularly. We’ve all heard the old adage about ‘failure being a learning opportunity’. Whilst that remains true, we think it’s become a bit of a platitude and doesn’t do much soothe the hurt during an emotional low point. So here are some decent pointers from your colleagues in The Biz on handling failure with grace, maturity and integrity:

  1. Just admit the thing you did or the thing you were in was a failure. It takes a big person to admit this but you will be respected all the more for it.
  2. Figure out exactly what went wrong (or what led to things going wrong) and do everything in your power to never repeat it.
  3. Take some time out for yourself after it’s all gone wrong. Go on a hike, eat a good dinner, buy an oversized bath bomb and while away some time in the tub listening to quality jazz.
  4. Remind yourself silently that it is probably not entirely your fault. 99% of the time an actors failure is brought about by multiple variables/people.
  5. By the same token, admit to yourself anything that could have contributed towards it. If you feel that you were lazy, own up to it. If you feel that you burned bridges you shouldn’t have, own up to it. Once you have, it’s time to move on.
  6. DO NOT AVOID PEOPLE in The Biz. Go about life completely normally. Once again it will take guts to do so, but people will notice. Even the ones trying to use your failure as means to tear you down. You empower yourself by doing this in front of such people and they will be thrown by your level-headedness and surety.
  7. Get busy on another project as soon as possible. Remember that Developing a Hinterland is a way of rejuvenating your creative soul.
  8. DO NOT VENT about a bad experience online. Do not post anything aggressive, passive aggressive or vitriolic on social media. It’s petty, bitter and unprofessional. You may also inadvertently burn bridges you wish you hadn’t.
  9. If you an acting workshop/masterclass/scene study didn’t go so well for you, find something you learned. The moment you find it and implement a change, your time was not wasted.
  10. Fail happily! Maybe you took a risk with a choice, a character approach, a project, a scene, an idea or a vocal technique… and it was a complete wipe out. Well, congratulate yourself for being brave enough to do so. If you truly jumped off, you’re doing your job!
  11. If you felt good about the work you did in a show that flopped, don’t let the show’s failure take your personal achievement away from you.
  12. 99% of career issues won’t matter in a month or so, and will have quickly evaporated within 3 months or so.