The Key To An Actor’s Success? Failure

Paul Kampf Acting CoachWritten by Paul Kampf

You will hit tremendous pitfalls in your work as an actor. It’s an inevitable reality in the evolution of your craft. However, only you can take the big risks to leap further than you think you can to find what positive may come from falling short.

We do not often test our talent – really test our talent – on a daily basis because the result might not lead to miraculous breakthroughs or a schedule full of auditions. Yet, every actor who wants to really build his craft must embrace risk more than his ability to memorize text, network, or take the perfect headshot.

The “10,000 hours” time-frame to master any craft has been well addressed in books like The Tipping Point and The Talent Code. They show us that greatness doesn’t come from divine intervention, but that it’s cultivated from our conscious effort to reach towards greatness in one’s chosen field of study.

You’ve chosen acting. You need to put in those hours.

During those seemingly unending hours, you must take steps to move your talent from conscious to unconscious by reaching for a goal just outside of your current skill set – everyday. This exponentially accelerates the mastering of your craft through inevitable FAILURE.

Failure ignites your whole learning system on a visceral level. When you try anything just outside your comfort zone, you’re required to leap from what feels safe to what you feel will hurt. When you take this jump over and over again, you’ll start increasing the risk you’re willing to take because the failures begin to hurt less and the successes feel even better. In this process, conscious actions start becoming instinctual talents.

Now you start to understand that every great success is built on a foundation of failures. Fear then becomes a necessary ally in your daily practice. It not only builds your craft, but it starts to define you as an artist and person.

Therefore, set a goal to leap large and accept failure at least once a day. When you do this, you’ll be inspired by the path you’re building for your career and your life.

Paul is an award winning filmmaker/teacher –

Leave a Reply
Dylan O’Brien on His ‘Maze Runner’ Injury and Working with Michael Keaton on ‘American Assassin’
"Getting to play a character over a lengthy period of time is always a pleasure, especially if you like the character." - Dylan O'Brien
Billy Eichner on His Unsuccessful Past as a Child Actor: “I was too tall. I was too this. I was too that”
Eichner reveals that he turned to comedy because his initial forays into acting proved unsuccessful.
Eddie Izzard on Creating a Character: “I should be able to come off script and improvise”
"The better you researched it – the better you are into the character before you land on the set, the easier it’s going to be. " - Eddie Izzard on Preparing for a Role
Mackenzie Davis on Breakthrough ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ Role: “It was one of my very first jobs. I was so nervous”
"When I started this job, I remembered looking up “how actors prepare for parts” because I just didn’t know!" - Mackenzie Davis
Michael Keaton on Choosing Roles: “If you overthink the money part, you tend to mess it up”
Keaton explains why material is so much more important to him than money.