So you’ve studied acting, been in a few commercials, maybe even landed yourself a role on the screen or stage. Your agent’s calling. People want to meet you. Heck, you were almost cast in the latest Jackie Chan film. You feel that big break coming on and you can’t wait to quit your day job but it’s still slightly out of reach. Soon, you’ll be filming in exotic locations eating lobster and channeling Frank Sinatra, telling the director, ‘I do one shot! What are we waiting for? We got the shot! Move on!’ but until then why not using your acting skills to become better at your job.
Whether you’re a secretary wizard, customer service unit, bartending gun or barista boss, every job has the capacity to make you feel stressed. Luckily, you’ve been dealing with stress your entire career. After countless auditions, performances, monologues and meetings, you know how to appear cool, calm and collected while standing in front of people. You know how to deliver the words that people want to hear. Channel this to your day job! Overly stressed corporate yelling at you because you made the milk too hot in his ¾ soy chai latte? Smile and pretend you’re midway through audition. Boss emailing you every five minutes saying he needed those papers yesterday? Simply march into his office, make direct eye contact and communicate that you have micro-managed a team of interns who have color-coded, sorted and separated those papers for his convenience. Receive promotion.
As an actor you use all the sense in your body to study and absorb the feelings, emotions and views of others. You are an expert in studying the human character. As a result you are empathetic, well-rounded and kind. You know how to place yourself in someone else’s shoes. This means you work well in a team. You are sensitive to the needs of others because you understand the needs of others. You have the ability to make people feel at ease. You are well liked by your colleagues and they purchase not one but two cakes for your birthday. Your boss notices. A “team player” award is created for you and you find yourself on a holiday in Barbados reading novels and sipping drinks by a pool.
You’ve developed a thick skin. You’ve faced more rejection than a high school student and you know how to brush the dust off your pants and get back up again. You are resilient. You’ve been passed on for movies, shows, commercials. But you’re still here. You take it in stride. These skills will take you far in your day job. Didn’t receive the drinks-after-work email with the team? Brush it off. Missed out on the promotion your boss said you were a shoe in for? Brush it off. You know you’re going to get where you need to eventually. No one can stop you.
Sometimes your job can be so boring you feel like you’re being crushed from the inside. This wasn’t how it was meant to be! You had dreams! They told you at school you could be anything! And now you’re working in a nightclub picking up glasses at 3am, trying to get past sweaty teenagers making out in the corner and the guy who hasn’t slept for three days. This is all material. Use it. Channel it. Pretend you are Tom Cruise in Cocktail. Dart nimbly between people while juggling schooner glasses behind your back. Someone vomited in the smoking area? Retrieve a mop and begin reciting lines from Good Will Hunting pretending to be a genius. Better yet, create your own scene. We all have to start somewhere. Collect experiences like they are Pokémon and evolve into a more complex character while making your job more enjoyable too.
If all else fails return to the skill we used to have as children and method act your way to success. You’re working on your French accent at night classes two days a week. Why not pretend you are Eva Green from The Dreamers and exercise your French/English accent while fetching different jean sizes for eight hours while people try them on in the dressing room? You will instantly become more interesting and therefore your job will become more interesting. Watch as the clock flies by and you’re already going home when you thought it was lunch. Snag a hot date and continue being Eva Green well into the night. Win at life.