Acting unemployed

Mar 16 2009 by Janet Howd Print This Article

Yesterday evening as I watched the first programme in a special edition of "The Apprentice" being undertaken by celebrities for the BBC's annual Children in Need appeal, Alan Sugar implied quite a few times that actors are no good at doing business.

He may be right, but actors have a thing or two to teach the current business world about maintaining standards of performance and self worth during long periods of unemployment.

To remain solvent, actors must turn their hands to any task. But whether their days are taken up with dish washing, tyre fitting, street cleaning or shelf stacking, they know that they must keep their bodies and voices in trim so that - no matter how much time has elapsed since they last trod the boards or faced a camera - they can turn up at an audition and prove that they still have the ability to deliver the goods.

Actors are often out of work not because they are bad at their job, but because their world of work that offers little security and virtually no continuity. This means that all actors - even the world's most adulated - will at some time have had to spend periods of unemployment scraping a living while still maintaining and protesting their own worth.

If keeping fit and exercising the voice regularly, learning lines for no reason other than to keep memory and tongue active, observing and mimicking character traits of others, keeping up to date with changing theatrical techniques and fashions by trying out different roles has allowed actors to retain a belief in themselves while 'resting' - why not advocate this practice for out of work managers too?

Many able employees have recently become unemployed through no fault of their own. As with actors searching for work in an-always overcrowded job market, unemployed professionals not only need to retain the belief that they will resume working in their core trade or profession at some time, but also find ways to value their own worth while undertaking menial forms of employment for solvency's sake.

These people need help in coping with feelings of rejection that will eat into the psyche if not deflected They need help to keep abreast of information that will make them credible candidates within their chosen ball park no matter how long they have to spend out of it.

If you are amongst this increasingly numerous group why not take a leaf out of an actor's book? Why not organise meetings with others in the same situation as yourself to find out what different takes they have on this unprecedented situation? Why not Innovate workshops together? Create scenarios based on the reality we all hope will be restored. Simulate interviews. Take the opportunity to get to grips with new technology. Pool expertise. Share equipment. Learn to present to better effect. Mimic how colleagues you wish to emulate behave. Try out different delivery techniques and mould them to fit comfortably with your performance.

By doing all this, once the opportunity to take on a more exacting role arises again, an efficient model of the tactics required for you to be successful will already be in place.

Over time, the profit gained in self reliance may well offset any financial loss you incurred while out of work. As to the life-skills and camaraderie gained: they will prove to be assets beyond price.

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About The Author

Janet Howd
Janet Howd

Janet Howd is a voice coach who works with corporate, academic, legal, theatrical and private clients in the UK, North America, Australia and Europe.