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You can’t be your best artistic self if your mental health is struggling. Period. 

As actors, we’re trained to cry about the darkest parts of our lives to give an ‘honest performance.’ We hear ‘no’ on a daily basis, agents and casting directors only want to hear about our career, not our feelings, and the world always seems far more interested in “What’s next?” than “Are you okay?” 

With mental stumbling blocks in our path 24/7, it’s no wonder most actors are not experts at taking care of themselves. 

The pandemic was a major call-out for many of us. In the midst of a nation-wide crisis that pulled most of our careers to a screeching halt, mental health rightfully took its place at the forefront of many actors’ minds. And better mental health practices are even more important as we move back into auditions and work. 

Below I share six crucial ways you can take care of your brain and heart — so that you can keep putting your best work forward. 

1. Give therapy a chance.

This may sound cheesy…but therapy is “cool” right now. And thank goodness for that! We’ve finally gotten to a place where going to therapy isn’t shameful or embarrassing. If that type of ridiculous stigma is what’s been holding you back, take a deep breath, find someone you click with, and get to work on yourself.

Therapy isn’t covered by a lot of insurance providers, and money may be tight, but if you can afford it, it’s worth it. If you’re struggling financially, check out The Actor’s Fund. They’ve got amazing support for artists and can help you find more affordable/free options.

2. Create structure when you can’t find any.

Imposing structure on our lives is the constant battle of being an artist. I know so many people who define their lives as periods of “I have a gig” and “I’m looking for the next gig.” It’s dangerous. When you don’t have structure outside of your work, it’s easy to lose months of your life refreshing emails and dreaming of purpose. 

But you don’t need a gig to have structure and purpose. You are an artist whether you’re getting paid or not, so don’t give casting the keys to your life. Look at what you want to do and make a schedule to fit it. Get up, write, move, sing, go to your day job, see your friends and family. Take breaks from your life to do your gigs — not the other way around.

3. Keep your body active in a way that inspires you.

There’s a lot of pressure for actors to stay active because of looks or costumes, but putting movement in your routine is about you and your health, not your size. Many actors are naturally energetic people and being in our bodies is part of our craft, so when you’re not in the middle of a gig, you have to find a way to move for your creative health.

Find something active that speaks to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s dance class, workouts, yoga, walking through the city, or even cleaning your apartment. Your brain will thank you for putting your body in motion.  

4. Take social media breaks.

Just like your life isn’t defined by your next gig, it’s also not defined by your social media presence. Social media isn’t reality, but it has a way of making us feel like it is when we spend too much time on it. 

Ever hear the axiom, “Comparison is the thief of joy?” The fact is, social media makes us compare our average lives to other people’s staged and filtered highlights — and that’s not healthy. It also doesn’t make sense half the time. Why would you feel bad about a friend booking a gig you didn’t even audition for? 

Take a step back from the constant need for validation once in a while. You’ll always have things to celebrate or people to love — posting or not posting about them doesn’t make them any less real or valid.  

5. Explore and discover other creative outlets.  

You are an artist. You don’t need anyone’s permission to be creative. If you love cooking, cook. If you love crafting, craft. Find something that you don’t have to be good at, and do it for the joy of doing it! A stage or a studio might not always be available to you, but that just means your creativity can find other fantastic outlets. 

Build a community of creative friends and support each other in your desire to make something. Unlearn the toxic competition of the audition waiting room. Grow from each other’s art.

Also, don’t monetize everything you love. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean other people need to judge it with their money. You can paint just for you.  

6. Find a day job that doesn’t put you down.

Obviously, we’d all rather be acting full time, but we have ups, downs, and bills to pay. When you need to take a non-acting job, make sure it’s something that supports your craft as well as your wallet. 

If your day job makes you feel like crap, then get a new one. Full stop. You’ll just bring that feeling into your auditions and stay stuck in the misery. You deserve to work with people you enjoy in a job that doesn’t beat down your self-esteem. 

If you’re working on finding purpose in your day job, take a look at where your paycheck is going. Once you’ve budgeted all the essentials, put some of your funds towards classes and career-oriented things. That way, you’re not just working to survive, you’re working to thrive.


Mental health and creative health go hand in hand.

Remember, your artistry isn’t just your lines, or your looks; it’s your whole being. If your mental health is off, it’s going to affect your performance — because your performance is you. Also, you deserve better. We’ve moved past the glamorous ideas of the ‘starving artist’ or the ‘suffering actor.’ Take care of yourself. 

For a place to start healing, reach out to The Actor’s Fund or the NYC Mental Health Services site for assistance. If you’re looking for a supportive day job with other actors, contact Worthwhile Event Services.

Roderick Lawrence is an actor, filmmaker, and Blacktivist whose long resume includes Simba in The Lion King, Ramses in The Prince of Egypt, Guy in ONCE, and an appearance on Comedy Central’s Broad City. He also created, produced, and starred in the multi-award-winning short film Silent Partner, which premiered in August at the Oscar-qualifying RSF Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival (