Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Actor, Victoria Lucie, talks about her experiences of 'resting' and how to cope with the highs and lows of freelance acting.
We’ve all been there; faced with weeks of blank diary pages after a stint of busyness, with the only thing in the month to look forward to being a dental appointment and worming your cat. But sometimes it can’t be laughed off. After a time of employment, (and we all know stage shows and filming both have very intense schedules) the sudden plunge into nothingness can leave us feeling a little lost and perplexed. That accompanied with the idea of having no money, and a stream of well-meaning but clueless, family members, friends and even strangers asking you “So what’s next?” and “How do you survive? I couldn’t do that” and my personal favourite “Don’t they call it resting?” Usually preceded with “Oh, you’re an ACT-TOOOOOOR!”…Seriously shoot me. But regardless, I am on a mission to re-define 'resting' for actors and make it the most productive and positive time possible, before your next job comes along.
Pick Up a New Skill
Now, I know what’s going to happen here. "What about money?" "But I only want to act." "It’s my passion." etc etc. And I hear you; however, this is a brilliant time to learn something new, especially if it’s something you have wanted to learn for a while or something that could make your CV stand out. Nothing can stop you becoming the best unicycle riding, fire-breathing opera star you can be! As exciting as that is, my hobbies have started on a much smaller scale, and have cost very little. I have recently started to learn French, I bought a beginners book for about £3 and study it about 5 times a week, and already I know the basics. Now tell me that’s not, one, useful for impressing people at French restaurants, and two, useful for acting purposes. French accent nailed: tick!
Learn to Play an Instrument
As an extension of the first point, this is another useful skill to have, and fun to learn. With the wealth of online tutorials and, I presume, arty friends you can force to teach you (thank you, you know who you are) there is nothing in your way. Maybe don’t purchase a double bass off the cuff, but go to a music shop and have a play, find what suits you and maybe borrow an instrument first. I am currently learning how to play the drums by pestering friends that have them and making a racket (again, thank you.) There are also tons of affordable instruments, such as the humble ukulele. This is great instrument to just dabble with a few basic chords and learn your favourite songs. Actor/Muso jobs: tick*!
*Those who are actor musos I salute you. I am still baffled by your talent. Please don’t hate my attempt at humour.
Surround Yourself with People That “Get It”
I am fortunate to have friends within the same industry and some who aren’t, and I love to spend time with both. I enjoy chatting about anything but acting a lot of the time, because it’s important to invest in what others are doing too. Pop around to a friends house for a cuppa and a catch up (knowing full well that while you were working you probably missed out on socialising with those outside of your job), watch a film, cook something together, just keep social. I know how easy it is to go into hermit mode, where the confines of your bedroom are comfortable and the furthest you venture is the fridge. But instead keep chatting, talk about sweet nothings and enjoy those around you. It helps I promise.
Que groans of disappointment. I agree, finding the motivation to stay active was definitely a personal
battle for me. Especially when working you are often exercising a lot, be it dance or just being up on your feet, it’s quite easy to stay fit during busy times (hello pantomime and your weight loss abilities) But when that all stops, although your body could do with a bit of a recovery period, it’s important to get outside or get moving as often as possible. I like to go for walks in the woods, or swim. There is just something really lovely about losing yourself in nature (also its free!) or spending time in the water. Just make sure your bed isn’t also your desk, dinner table and resting place all at the same time. Even if it’s just walking to a coffee shop to do a bit of people watching. Get up and go!
Keep Working Hours
This was a huge hurdle for me. I found myself checking my phone for emails, casting calls and auditions every 10 minutes. That was a waste of time. Generally most casting companies work within office hours, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm (ish) so checking constantly on a Sunday afternoon was completely pointless. Being focused and pushing for jobs is not achieved by staring a screen and hoping, it’s by setting aside a chunk of time to look within those hours and apply properly for suitable jobs. I tend to check at 11am and 3pm Monday-Friday, and apply for suitable things then. That means I not only get weekends free to do other things mentioned above or work on a job I have confirmed, instead of lying in bed at midnight scrolling away not sleeping. It also allows proper, focused time to film self-tapes and write cover letters. Please do this. It will change your time management forever, and you’ll achieve so much more.
Now this might seem contradictory, but I feel sometimes you do just need some recovery time. If you’ve been on a busy run or a crazy schedule, working at all hours and spending your life on trains then it’s important to give yourself a bit of TLC. This was also another massive hurdle. I learnt to stop beating myself up if all I wanted to do was relax. Run yourself a nice bath, catch up on your favourite TV series (side note this is technically research for your film acting. Just saying.) or spend time doing a bit of cleaning. I know that last one doesn’t sound particularly relaxing, but if you are anything like me a clear space means a clear mind, and you’ll probably have a lot of dirty clothes in a suitcase that you’ve lived out of for 3 months. You’ll feel better if you deal with it.
Now I agree, easier said than done but here are a few tricks to keep you upbeat.
- Write down what you are grateful for whenever you need to, it really gives you a boost, similarly I have a “one line a day” journal which I really enjoy filling with things I have achieved, no matter how small.
- Ring a family member for a pep talk. I do this every now and then to the point where my amazing mum can tell exactly what tone of voice means, “please kick me up the bum and make me feel better” (Thank you May family, you are the best family)
- Think of how much you enjoyed your last job, and if you didn’t, think of how many people wanted it but you got it! Stop thinking about all the jobs you didn’t get, and focus on how far you’ve come.
- And finally SMILE…
Because you are following a really crazy path and still pushing on. We’ve chosen one of the most rejection filled, all-consuming professions there is. But you know what? It’s utterly brilliant too. I would have as many days 'resting' as it takes until I can climb the next rung of the acting ladder, because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It’s a passion and if it’s your passion too, congratulations on having the courage to pursue it. Let’s regard resting as a time where we can improve our skills, see people we love and spend time enjoying a break before the next whirlwind sweeps us away. But in the meantime, let’s make the response to “So what are you doing now?” become…
“I’m RESTING. And I BLOOMING LOVE IT.”
Blog posts, interviews and commentary by individuals do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the
Worcester Repertory Company.
After making her Worcester Rep debut as Gwendolyn in the 2016 production of The Importance of Being Earnest, Victoria has made her second home with the Rep, having appeared in the premieres of Number 42 and Conclusions, William Walton's Façade (co-produced with the English Symphony Orchestra), Cider with Rosie, Charley's Aunt and the smash hit, award-winning production of Sleeping Beauty.
Other theatre includes; The Night Pirates (National Tour and the Rose Theatre Kingston), Much Ado About Nothing, Snow White, and The Wind in the Willows (Groundlings Theatre); Murder on the Nile Bijou Productions) and Insensible (Edinburgh Fringe, Middle Weight Theatre)
Screen credits include; Dartmoor Killing, Elizabeth Taylor in Autopsy: The Last Hours of...(ITV), Snow White in Behind the Magic (ABC) and multiple music videos and shorts. Follow Victoria on Twitter - @VictoriaLucieM