Screwing Up: An Actor's Lesson in Success by Failure
by Zachary Rivera

“Everyone makes mistakes”, and “Nobody’s perfect”, are things we hear and say to others all the time. This being said, why is it so hard to accept when we make mistakes? In the world of theatre, a young actor’s biggest fear is making a mistake on stage in front of an audience. Just thinking about it will send a chill down their spine, but the truth of the matter is that making mistakes is a skill that we all, especially those in artistic fields, should aim to practice, rather than avoid.

            Try to think of your favorite actor or actress. Popular actors and actresses give completely seamless performances because they aren’t worrying about making mistakes. As an actor in college myself, when I get on stage one of the first things I think about is how I might mess up or forget something, but what I’ve come to learn is that this fear of making mistakes is precisely what causes them to happen. This begs the question however: how do we get rid of the fear? Face it head on.

            Again, as an actor, making mistakes is a skill. The more we make mistakes, the more we realize it isn’t the end of the world. So, if there is one thing I want to encourage fellow actors to do is to screw up. Get on a stage and mess up in front of an audience. Coming from someone who was/is terrified of this, it is one of the most freeing feelings in the world knowing that the thing you fear most as a performer, is in fact, nothing at all frees up your headspace for things like character development, creative ideas, and space to focus on what matters, rather than the fear of the unknown.

            Actors and actresses on Broadway and in film have messed up many times on their road to where they are today. They also continue to do so! Ellen DeGeneres said, “When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” Success and failure are not mutually exclusive, but you cannot have one without the other. So, go! Go mess up! Make mistakes! It just might lead you to something great.

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