How to Fail as an Actor

Here are some handy tips on how to fail as an actor.

If you’re not an actor, no worries, the laws of failure are universal. Just substitute “actor” for any occupation you care to choose.


  1. Audition occasionally, but don’t actively seek out work. Let others do that for you.

  2. Blame the industry. Tell yourself, “no one is writing roles for ____ (insert age, ethnicity, body type, gender, etc.) actors these days.“

  3. When you’re starting your career, turn down work that’s beneath you or isn’t a lead in a studio film. It’s better to stay at home than do a student film or some play for no pay.

  4. Do it tomorrow. If you have a project or assignment you need to do for your career, wait. Today always sucks. Tomorrow might be better.

  5. Base your career on your feelings. If you don’t feel like getting out of bed some days, then go with it. Watch TV instead. Eat that donut. Have that affair. Let your feelings run your life and career.

  6. Don’t take care of your body. Feed it lots of sugar and caffeine. Don’t rest it, and never, ever, exercise it.

  7. Don’t work on yourself or your craft. You know it all already. It’s just a matter of time (lots of time).

  8. Seek mediocrity. Seeking excellence is too hard. Mediocrity is so much easier.

  9. Criticize other actors, especially famous ones, but also your friends. The more successful the actor, the more criticism they deserve. You know you’re better.

  10. Follow the herd. They must know something to all be going in the same direction. Follow them. Never think for yourself or the herd may turn on you.

  11. Lie and cheat to get ahead. Ethics are for goody-two-shoes that live boring lives. Everyone knows nice guys finish last. Be a jerk.

  12. Don’t get an agent. Or better yet, get one and blame him for your lousy career.

  13. Don’t promote yourself. You act and that’s it. Promotion is for pompous fools. Refuse to do it.

  14. Do not seek help or help others. Look out for number one — that’s you! Everyone else is the enemy!

  15. Be your own worst critic. Chop yourself to pieces. You know you suck. Tell yourself every day, especially if you didn’t get a job. Attack yourself before others do it for you.

Okay, I hope these tips were useful! But remember, this list is by no means comprehensive. I’m sure each of you can think of many, many more ways to fail. Send them to me, and maybe I will publish them next time!

— Isa Totah


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