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June 2024

train as an actor

Bouncing Back: Tips To Help Actors Handle Criticism Well

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Anyone who embarks on the journey to train as an actor and put themselves forward for roles will find that they sometimes encounter unhelpful or downright hurtful criticism. It’s important to learn how to process and respond to criticism well, otherwise you may find it weighs you down and knocks your confidence.

The criticism will probably most often be performance related, but it could also be of the type of roles or productions you choose to audition for, or of your career choice itself. Here are some helpful tips for taking criticism in your stride and turning it into a tool of empowerment.

Take it on the chin

It may be tempting to bury the criticism, especially if you find it hurtful or it was delivered in an insensitive manner. However, this will only cause it to fester at the back of your mind and affect your enthusiasm for acting. Try to separate your emotions from what was actually said.

You might not be able to do this straightaway, so choose a time when you are more chilled out and free from distractions. Unpack what was said, trying to be accurate and objective and putting to one side the tone of voice or the reactions of others in the group. 

It may be that the comment was meant to be feedback rather than criticism, and it was delivered in an unintentionally blunt or clumsy manner. This is an experience that actors have to get used to as they work with a wide range of directors and cast members. If you are confused about any aspect of the criticism, consider approaching the person for clarification.

Take away the useful insights

Sometimes, the most difficult to hear thing can also be galvanising: if you recognise truth in it, you can use this valuable insight to grow and adjust your approach to this aspect of your acting. Remember that as an actor, we have to rely on the feedback of others to help us evolve and grow in confidence.  

However, sometimes feedback can be misdirected and we do not have to take it on board. After all, it’s just another person’s opinion, so consider their perspective, level of experience, and how much you respect them for their skills or personal qualities. 

If there is a jarring mismatch between your values and artistic vision, then maybe you can let go of their opinion without resentment and move on. If you find this hard, write down what you found unjust or irrelevant about the criticism, and stand up for yourself and your talents! Maybe you were just having an off day; it happens to everyone.

Remember that how you respond to criticism is always more important than what was actually said. Embrace the pain and defend yourself if you feel unfairly attacked, but don’t brood on negative feelings. Channel your emotional energy into proving the critic wrong or to refine your acting skills and goals.