When it comes to self image, are you enough? The answer is, of course you are. Are you enough to make your dreams come true? The answer is, of course you are. Wait a minute. If I am a 6-foot, 300 pound man, can I become a jockey in a horse race? If I am a 4-foot-10, 130-pound woman, can I be a runway model?
The answer is, of course you can’t. There are, and will continue to be, rules made by nameless people, preventing you from participating in many arenas. This has nothing to do with self image. You will always be the best at whatever you choose to do, simply by doing whatever is necessary to make that happen. A healthy self image recognizes that truth. When the great Bette Davis was asked if she ever went to a psychiatrist she said, “I almost went three times, almost. Then I decided that what made me peculiar would make me a success.” Consciously or unconsciously we surround ourselves with people who affect our self image on a daily basis. Who is close and near to you? Friends? Family? What are their views on life and success? Are your views similar, if not identical?
When I was in High School, most weekends I would travel to New York City to purchase a standing room ticket for a Broadway show. During the intermission I would talk to the other standees about theatre and the latest shows. The air was always electric. We all had a similar interest. During these same weekends, many of my classmates were at the school’s sports events sharing their enthusiasm with friends of like mind. Doesn’t it seem logical that if you wished to become a success in any chosen profession you would associate with those who were on a path to success? Who believed in success as not only a possibility, but a fact? That you should avoid the people who insist your goals and dreams are unattainable because somehow you don’t have what it takes?
A student recently shared with me the pain he felt because his mother tells him he doesn’t have what it takes to be a successful actor—“There are too many people out there who are more talented.” If you don’t have family support, surround yourself with friends and acquaintances who believe in themselves and you. Too many actors congregate to complain about their careers, the state of the business, how much they hate their bread and butter jobs. If you don’t believe this drains you of a positive self image you are greatly mistaken. If you find you have people like this in your life, dump them and make new friends. This idea that opposites attract is nonsense. It’s people of like mind that attract each other. If you find all your friends wallowing in gloom and doom, know that it was you who attracted them into your life. Change how you think about yourself and begin to seek those who are not complaining and actively pursuing a career. When you do what is necessary on a daily basis to obtain success you will find others with healthy self images beginning to enter your life.
Sean Penn cleaned his acting class toilets when he first began in the business on the way to a very successful career. Barbara Streisand and Danny Glover began their careers in the same way. Is it possible to even suggest any of these incredible talents suffered from low self esteem? I believe they all knew exactly who they were and how much they deserved success. They didn’t identify with what they had to do in order to travel the path to achieve their goals. Is it possible to separate a positive self image from success? I suppose so if you do it the way Russell Crowe did. This Academy Award winning actor says, “I’m never actually expecting success, but it doesn’t surprise me when it comes. I know how much work I put into what I do. And I have to in order to complete the fantasy of my life, which is to work at the highest level in the art form that I’ve chosen to work in.”
One final note to those who believe they aren’t pretty enough, or have the perfect body, or the talent needed—What if you had been born without arms? How limited is that person? Here is what John Foppe, who was born without arms, had to say: “Our only real handicaps are those mental and emotional ones that prevent us from participating fully in life. How we feel and what we think clearly determine what we do. Simply put, our attitudes control our actions.” John knew that what he thought and felt about himself is all that mattered. What others thought took a back seat. Self Image is not about being delusional. If you want to be a great actor you can’t just believe-therefore-you-are. If you want to be a great actor and believe you can be, then do all that is necessary to become one. (Are you tired of hearing me say that? If you are, just know I will never get tired of saying it.) In my book, “Beyond the Moon, an Actors Manual”, I wrote the following in the very first chapter: “Every actor, no matter his or her educational level, their work experience, or how their careers appear to be progressing, must name themselves ‘Actors.’ This is easy and justifiable when we recognize all actors to be ‘works in progress.’ It isn’t another person’s business why you choose your profession. It’s only about what you think and believe. State proudly that you are an actor, then do everything necessary to make it a daily reality.”
Good old, reliable Abe Lincoln said it best: “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” Know who you are and that you can. Put that self image out there for all the world to see. And go to work.
Adam Hill began his theatrical career with the renowned APA Repertory Theatre in New York. Adam acted and/or directed in New York, Los Angeles and throughout the country. Adam relocated to Los Angeles where he was Artistic Director of the Actors Alley Theatre Company. In 1980, he opened the successful Adam Hill Actors Studio and Theatre. While in Los Angeles he directed for television and stage. Adam has taught some of the bright stars of the theatre and film world including Heather Locklear, Laura Dern, Brad Garrett and Doug Savant. He successfully developed the Musical Theater degree program at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania. Adam is the author of “Beyond the Moon,” an acting manual, and “You Got the Job!”, a guide to getting work in the Industry.