I quit show business.
Really. I did.
In fact, I’ve quit show business so many times in my 25+ year career that I’m afraid to ask how many times you’ve “quit.”
If you are like most actors, you have probably contemplated it at least once, if not dozens of times. Show biz is no joke, and pursuing an acting career can be exhausting, frustrating and sometimes downright debilitating.
But quitting for a short while because it feels too hard, or because you’re not getting closer to your goals is VERY DIFFERENT from truly quitting the business for good.
I did that once, too.
In fact, I quit for a whole year and when I did make that decision, I was certain that I had quit for good.
Of course, you know I came back! But, being away from it for a full year helped me see that I missed it and that I just needed to do things differently to stay in it for the long haul.
But what happens when you do actually start to realize that pursuing an acting career is not making you happy? How do you know how to navigate a whole new life? And how do you know if it’s really time to leave, as opposed to just needing some time to re-evaluate your pursuit?
Here are six things that can help you navigate your feelings around leaving showbiz:
1. Ask yourself what is REALLY making you want to quit. Get crystal clear with yourself as to why you think it is time to move on. Is it because you aren’t booking work? It is because you can’t afford it? Is it because you’ve realized you don’t really like the grind? Is it because your wife wants you to stop? Is it because you really don’t like rehearsals? What is it? Be super honest with yourself so that you can find a way to do the parts you don’t like differently if you choose to stay in. #totalhonesty
2. Write down all the things you love about pursuing your acting career. Writing down what you like about it can illuminate whether you really actually like the work of pursuing your career, or if you really only like it when you’re actually in or on a show. If you realize you only like to perform (and not all the other things required), it might be time to take a step back… especially if the actual performing jobs are getting fewer and farther in between. #whatilove
3. Consider stepping away for a set amount of time first. Try actively NOT pursuing it for six months to a year if you feel you need to re-assess. In that time away you might get all the answers you need, and either realize that you can’t live without it or that you don’t miss it at all. Give yourself permission to step away if you just need to get some clarity before taking the full leap out. #stepaway
4. Let go of the notion of failure. I hear many actors say they are worried that people will think they have failed if they leave, or that you are looking at it as a failure. If you gave it your all and are certain it no longer makes you happy, I count that as a true success, not a failure. It takes bravery to walk away from something you once desperately wanted. #bebrave
5. Talk to people who have left the biz. If you’re wondering what it’s like to leave, find some friends who have left and see if they are happy. You will probably find that they are happy and that they don’t miss it at all. You might also find that many of them have stayed in the business in some form, just not as actors. And that is always an option too. #phoneafriend
6. Leaving the business doesn’t mean leaving acting. Of course, if you still love acting, but find that the grind of it is not working for you, there’s no reason you can’t continue to perform in community theatre and church productions or sing at gigs. Choosing to not pursue it as a career may be all you need to open up your love of it again and take the pressure off. #goodbyepressure
Have you ever considered leaving the acting biz? If so, why haven’t you quit yet?
Leslie Becker is Broadway actress, Billboard artist and best-selling author of The Organized Actor®. Since 1994, her teachings have empowered thousands of actors to be strong individuals so the highs and lows of the industry are balanced by a strong belief in themselves. As an actress, she has appeared in 10 Broadway and National Tour productions and she has starred in over 50 regional shows. She is the host of the Facebook Group Organized Actor Alliance, and offers free tips for actors at www.OrganizedActor.com.