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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Definition of Success

We’re in the midst of awards season, so naturally it’s a time actors begin to daydream about achieving that ultimate success in their career. We watch acceptance speeches with a mix of envy and awe, and we fervently wonder what it will take for us to launch our career to that level.

The truth is, only a fraction of the A list actors will ever be nominated for a major award, let alone win an award (here’s looking at you, John Barrymore and Marilyn Monroe.) So it wouldn’t be reasonable (or mentally healthy) to use “winning a major award” as a litmus test for success.

If that isn’t a standard to live by, then what is an actor to do?

You want to start looking at other measures of success for your career, and they can be any number of things based on the kind of career you want to have. Success is simply defined as, “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” So what are you aiming for? Some examples:
• An agent
• A guest star role
• To be called in directly for a regional/Broadway show
• To build relationships with all CDs in a specific office
• To make more than 50% of your income from acting
• To balance you work and home life
• To get a more flexible/lucrative day job

The key is: make sure that the measures can grow and change over time as YOU grow and change. You should have a sense of what “success” means for your current year, and also have a 3 or 5 year plan so you can see what success might look like in the future. Any of these examples above could be year-long goals, or could be mini-goals in service of a greater goal.

As you probably know, I’m also an actor so I’ve created my own measure of success just like I’m advising you to. In 2017 here’s what this looked like for me:

My measure of success (goal) for 2017 was to pay my rent only using acting income. To achieve that, I created a bunch of mini goals each quarter. I started by aiming to attend at least 30 EPAs in the first quarter of 2017. The next quarter I focused on networking and making sure my self submissions were strong, in addition to going to EPAs. In the 3rd quarter I focused on self-producing my own projects and taking on projects that I was referred for. And by the end of the year I found that I had achieved my overarching goal - I had gotten two long-term singing gigs (one as a stand-by in an open-ended Off Broadway musical) that are now paying my rent. And I was able to feel especially successful because I had achieved all of those mini-goals in between.

So what is your measure of success for this year? How about this month? Or this week? Leave your ideas in a comment below so that I can help give you some free accountability!

Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican’s career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. She is the Founder/Coach of The Actors’ Enterprise, co-founder and Managing Director of The Seeing Place Theater, and writes an “Experts” column for Backstage. To learn more, check out and find her on Twitter @ErinCronican.

2 COMMENTS - Click to READ:

Unknown said...

Hi Erin thanks for this great step by step example.
Question: what is an EPA?

Erin Cronican said...

Thanks for your question! EPA stands for Equity Principal Audition - it’s an audition that is held for a union theater projects. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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