The Conscious Actor

The Conscious Actor

10 Ways To Build Resilience

Talent alone is not enough to bring you success.  You must   have  resilience in order to hang in there when the going gets tough.   Woody Allen recognizes the importance of stamina when he said,  “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”  Last Sunday, I was visiting the Hammer Museum with my family and noticed  Dianne Wiest eating lunch alone. She looked fragile with her arm in a sling and I thought to myself, underneath that angelic exterior and soft voice is one tough cookie! I remembered reading about what she had gone through as an actress in her early days.  As a young actress, she hit a bump that could’ve ended her career. Cast in a play and feeling totally lost, during a rehearsal, the director exploded at her saying, “If I had any idea how BAD you really were, I never would have cast you!” Instead of going home and giving up, she found the strength to hang in there and create a flourishing career.  In an excerpt from the book, “Actors At Work,” by Tichler and Kaplan, Wiest talks openly about another challenge in her career while filming the film Bullets Over Broadway  – “Woody sent me the script (Bullets Over Broadway) and said I’d be perfect for the part. 

So I read it, and I thought, what the hell is he dreaming of? This isn’t for me. I had no idea what he was thinking. So I put on these beautiful costumes, and the first day of shooting comes and goes, and Woody says, ‘Come to the cutting room.’ He said, ‘Look at this,’ and I looked at the dailies, and it was awful. I mean awful, just a stupid woman saying these meaningless lines, trying to seduce beautiful John Cusack. And I said, ‘I don’t know what to do, Woody.’ And he said, ‘Well, think of something.’ I said, ‘I think you should replace me.’ So the next day, we were sitting on the set, both of us in despair, saying this is truly awful. And I said, ‘I think you have to replace me. You have to fire me and get somebody who can do this.’ And he said, very loyally, ‘No, I think it’s something to do with your voice.’ And I remember coming toward panic that morning, determined that I would lower my voice, but really not knowing what the hell I was going to do. So we went back and reshot the same scene, and I was determined, and I lowered my voice, and suddenly, with this fake voice I could do anything. Anything. “

And so she did… she went on to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Wiest did not let fear and self -doubt shut her down.   Instead, she turned an obstacle into an opportunity to grow as an actress.   With Woody Allen’s belief in her acting ability and her courage to hang in there when she wanted to give up, she was able to turn the situation around.

It is essential that you  develop staying power instead of running away from your challenges. Obstacles are unavoidable.  Learning how to deal with them rather than avoid them will contribute to your growth as an actor and a human being.

Here are 10 tips to help you stay in there for the long haul:

  1. Trust that everything that happens to you, good and bad, contains the seeds for the next thing to unfold. All beginnings have endings, its part of the process. Patience will help you endure the storm until the rainbow arrives.
  2. Learn to approach things with positive, open-hearted curiosity. Curiosity will open you up; self-judgment will shut you down.
  3. Don’t waste your time feeling sorry for yourself and thinking why me.   Instead, get out of your own way by seeing difficulty as part of living and an opportunity for growth. Remember, when growth is your goal, you will never lose. Enjoy being a student the rest of your life.
  4. Have fun, experience your life as an experiment. Nobody is watching or keeping score. Stop comparing yourself to others. “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
  5. Loosen your attachment to right and wrong. Rigid thinking will limit your creativity. Think outside of the box and go for it.   If something doesn’t work out, no big deal. When it’s ready to happen for you it will.
  6. Have a plan for obstacles. Figure out what you need in order to hang in there and ride out the waves of life.   When a big wave comes and knocks you down, shake the sand out of your nose and ears, find your feet and stand up for the next wave.   Put your energy towards learning to ride the waves rather than trying to stop them.
  7. Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends, or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience.
  8. Accept that change is a part of living. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
  9. Nurture a positive view of yourself. Remembering your competence will help you develop confidence in your ability to solve problems. Learning to trust your instincts helps build resilience.
  10. Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body ready to deal with tough situations.


The next time you face an obstacle and feel like giving up,  remember you are not alone, in fact you are in very good company!

Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday.


I’ve created The Conscious Actor Inspiration Journal; to help actors develop awareness of what inspires them. Beautiful pages filled with inspirational quotes to help keep you strong minded. For New York actors, the journal is available at Drama Book Shop Los Angeles actors may pick up the journal at Samuel French Bookshop

Conscious Actor articles are not a substitution for professional psychotherapy.

Bonnie Katz, MFT is a licensed therapist in private practice. Her goal as a therapist is to help clients reach “optimal mental wellness”, so that they can feel happiness, fulfillment and joy in their everyday lives. For more information on Bonnie’s therapy practice, visit her website.