Article Australian Journal of Career Development 2021, Vol. 30(1) 55–63 Helping actors improve their career ! Australian Council for Educational Research 2020 well-being Article reuse guidelines: sagepub.com/journals-permissions DOI: 10.1177/1038416220983945 journals.sagepub.com/home/acd Charles P Chen and Komila Jagtiani University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada Abstract It is generally assumed that visible actors in the performing arts industry maintain overall wellness despite the knowledge that an actor’s life is often characterized by instability. While an actor’s performance is often critiqued subjectively and critically, the variety of occupational risks associated with an actor’s well-being is less closely examined. Prior research suggests those working within the acting profession experience significant levels of distress. As a result, this article, first, aims to address the issues confronting the actor, in particular, anxiety associated with erratic employment, vulnerability to adverse working conditions, and conflict in identity owing to the impact of acting coupled with the effect of economic insecurity. Second, the paper follows with a consideration of key counselling theories to help strengthen this diverse group’s personal well-being and career prospects. By examining counselling interventions, the application of these theories can allow actors to develop optimally in acting industries worldwide. Keywords Actors, career well-being, hindering factors, career counselling, career theories To bring forth a character is a fundamental process in not, those who entertain by role-playing are found the acting profession, but doing this can pose a chal- working in a television studio, circus production, lenge to an actor’s well-being. In spite of the pressures theme park, live event, local theatre, cabaret or of the profession and limited research, interest in and comedy club. With a profound level of commitment, discussion of the subject, however, have increased in an actor entertains, expresses ideas, and communi- recent times (Bille & Jensen, 2018; Bradley & Ash, cates with their audience through the interpretation 2019; Lemasson et al., 2018; Maxwell et al., 2018; of a dramatic role; yet few achieve the recognition of Robb et al., 2018). According to Silverberg (2017), stardom (US DOL, 2020). at its heart, “acting is living truthfully under imagi- As one of the world’s earliest professions, and nary circumstances” (Preface section, para. 4). given the desirability of working as an actor in a cre- Acting sees, upon receipt of script and character, an ative industry, one might predict that the arts would actor not just imbed themselves but also inhabit a have been treated to a systematic study of occupation character’s life on stage or screen. Challenged to iden- much like traditional careers in medicine or law, yet tify and render the reality of a person’s thoughts, feel- academic research on actors’ lives and the acting pro- ings, and behaviour, a worker in this profession will fession over recent decades has often been neglected rely on their extraordinary capacity to explore the (Foster & Blau, 1989). The prerequisite to attend fragmentation of character more often in private numerous auditions and rehearsals is a well-known than around others during rehearsal (Boguszak, process for those aspiring to make it in a field that 2016). holds the promise for fame and fortune; yet the issue According to the US Department of Labor of what it takes to survive in a creative industry and (US DOL; 2008, 2020), it is thought that actors are turn an art into a profession is seldom examined (Bille seen on the silver screen, although more often than & Jensen, 2018). Corresponding author: Charles P Chen, Counselling and Clinical Psychology Program, Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, 252 Bloor Street West, 7th Floor, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1V6, Canada. Email: email@example.com 56 Australian Journal of Career Development 30(1) Confronting this issue, Seton (2008) shed light on new dialogue in an actor’s work setting, nationally the complex nature of the acting practice and the and beyond (Gibson et al., 2019). impact of “post-dramatic stress” (borrowing from Being cognizant of the complex and intertwined post-traumatic stress disorder) on actors’ lives (p. life-career experiences of actors in the prior discus- 2), while Middleton (2012) argued that acting training sion, this article attempts to focus specifically on has not been examined through a psychological lens, issues pertaining to career well-being of actors in a even though it requires actors to work intensively North American context, namely, the USA and with material located within one’s own mind/body. Canada. To this end, the article elaborates on three Along these lines, research by Prior et al. (2015) sug- factors that hinder an actor’s career development: gested that an investigation into an actor’s personal erratic employment, challenging work conditions, well-being is more often than not scarce, even though and income insecurity. The article then considers Brandfonbrener (1992) wrote of actors as “The theory-guided strategies to help actors better cope Forgotten Patients,” who face health risks and psy- with these career problems, utilizing key tenets and chological hazards while endeavoring to portray with ideas from major career theories, such as Holland’s depth a character’s emotions, not to mention acquire (1997) theory of personality types, Cochran’s (1997) possible negative personality traits of their character. narrative career counselling theory, and Krumboltz’s Since acting remains one of the most visible pro- (1996) social learning theory. These theory-guided fessions in the performing arts, the psychological career counselling interventions can be applied to impact of an acting career on well-being has been help actors charter their career trajectory and addressed by academia, although in limited form. manage their work-life in a more optimal manner. Research suggests those working within this field experience significantly greater levels of depression, anxiety, and stress than the general population Hindering factors on life-careers (Maxwell et al., 2015). In addition to symptoms of As a profession that promises upward social mobility anxiety and depression, Robb et al. (2018) found since the mid twentieth century, acting is one of the Australian actors vulnerable to vicarious trauma most popular occupational positions an individual and perfectionism, as well as being exposed to a aspires to (Sewell et al., 1957). While the profession range of issues including alcohol abuse, low help- of acting differs from other established professions in seeking, high self-criticism, and identity problems. the manner by which it is open to all social classes and Thus, research that sheds light on actors’ mental democratic in nature (Foster & Blau, 1989; Zarrilli & health and well-being is warranted. Hulton, 2009), the acting profession, however, brings While Bradley and Ash (2019) discussed the variety an aspect of career precariousness, that of insecurity of factors that contribute to an actor’s poor mental and instability, to which repeated exposure in every- health, there remains considerable room to advocate day life can significantly impact an actor’s well-being. for industry improvement. Take for example, through Let us turn to three factors that characterize the the safe distance of social media, the shared victimi- uncertainty of the acting profession: anxiety caused zation and survival stories of high profile actors who by unpredictable employment, vulnerability fueled by faced sexual assault in a work context - a collective demanding working conditions, and a growing imbal- action that inspired the rise of the 2017 “Me Too” ance in identity which is intensified by insecure movement in the United States, which sought to call income. out to survivors across the country to respond and raise awareness (Gibson et al., 2019). Within weeks, Erratic employment and escalating anxiety the #MeToo campaign saw the unexpected exposure of influential American film producer, Harvey The acting profession depends on indefinable and Weinstein, gave a voice to many across sectors who hard to measure features such as talent and creativity. rallied to be heard despite opposition – and grew into In an attempt to find work within the acting arena, a global movement that affected the highest offices in most aspiring actors flock to cities such as New York Europe (Bhattacharyya, 2018). or Los Angeles; yet the effort to break into a notori- Despite Weinstein’s subsequent conviction, the ously difficult and overcrowded industry leave many response that saw the elite of Hollywood “distance workers feeling disheartened (Chi, 2000). Given that themselves from toxic talent and terminate existing an actor might be recruited by “catching an agent’s contracts” (Sheikha, 2019, p. 203), has now raised eye” only intensifies the competition in an industry concern for the unique challenges associated with that often selects talent based on physical appearance the acting profession. The timing of the #MeToo or experience in the profession. Compounding this movement made salient the issue of sexual miscon- issue, when attempting to find short-term employ- duct in the Hollywood film industry, “an involuntary ment opportunities during the summer and winter crisis that threatens one’s career and psychological in resort areas or on stage, young actors required to health” (Sharf, 2013, p. 278), provided a turning leave home face developmental stressors associated point for attracting public attention, and initiated a with adulthood as they navigate a new environment Chen and Jagtiani 57 (Prior et al., 2012). As an aspiring actor, there are heated lights on stage or studio, are factors that long-term health implications for those exposed to require considerable stamina. Yet, the intense compe- an anxiety-ridden lifestyle associated with not just tition offers little chance of success in an industry the ability to get the job but also with the waiting in where “most actors struggle for a toehold in the pro- between jobs. fession and pick up parts wherever they can” (US While formal dramatic training is expected, the lit- DOL, 2000, p. 254). When employed, actors must erature indicates an artistic education has little impact endure long and irregular working hours as well as on income and career well-being (Bille & Jensen, travel on roadshows under adverse or inclement 2018). Moreover, unexpected elements of acting train- weather conditions that can exist “on location” to ing can lead to further complications in terms of maintain employment (US DOL, 2008, 2020). mental health. In a collaborative project with a The spotlight on achieving perfection is laborious. French school for actors, Lemasson et al. (2018) Compared to artists in other industries, actors are found young actors self-reported higher levels of expected to have high levels of patience and commit- stress and anxiety with both large (often anxiety- ment. It is not unusual for actors to conduct consid- provoking) and small audiences (frustration with erable research to meet the intellectual and emotional lack of viewers but with enhanced critique). While demands of characterization. From learning a foreign on stage, Lemasson and colleagues noted that actors language to mastering accents, extended hours spent in training turned the left side of their face (related to rehearsing scenes are very much part of an actor’s life. the brain’s right hemisphere which processes negative A flawless performance requires repetitive rehearsals emotions) toward the large and small audience signif- and memorization of lines, generally a tedious task, icantly more that the right side (related to the brain’s and an actor must deliver a commendable perfor- left hemisphere which processes positive emotions), mance with little time to prepare (US DOL, 2008, research that provides support for the link between 2020). Alongside this, background actors, known as anxiety and audience effect. “extras” often contend with small parts with no lines Actors who invest in training are subject to criti- to deliver (US DOL, 2008, 2020). cism and judgement of their work in progress (Hays, Although actors choose to be actors, repeated expo- 2002). According to Wangh (2013), since acting sure of this kind has costly consequences when it instructors are a key point of access to the industry, comes to health and well-being. In a study that exam- students often dismiss personal well-being issues and ined undergraduate actor training for Shakespeare’s opt-out of seeking help, which can lead to further King Lear, known in theater circles as the “greatest negative effects. tragedy” and “cruelest play,” McDonald et al. (2019) Drawing on data collected from a 2012 Actors’ noted that “audience members confront these cruelties Wellbeing Survey, Maxwell et al. (2018) examined only once, yet actors embody them on a nightly basis” the ontological question of what it means to be an (p. 69), and that some students expressed that “the actor and argued that “the claim to being an actor heaviness of the tragedy threatened to ‘crumble us on itself entails a certain precarity” (p. 150). With no the inside’” (p. 76). required degree, registration with a casting agency, According to Seton (2010), who assessed the power license, or agent representation, the authors looked structures inherent in a student-teacher relationship, at the vocation as a sort of gamble – one that is student actors expose their inner world and look to “high risk and low return”, where “anyone” can be their teachers for recognition while teachers look for an actor (Maxwell et al., 2018). In an industry where willingness and vulnerability from their students. actors do not necessarily need an educational qualifi- Seton (2010) considered that this embodied interac- cation or formal training (which might have provided tion leads to a concern of the manifestation and a protective factor) they are more vulnerable than misuse of vulnerability in the process of acting train- others training in the creative arts (Siddins et al., ing and argued for both a sustainable and ethical 2016). training process. Keeping in mind the unstable environment offered That student actors do “what it takes” to “make by the acting profession, and the embedded insecur- it” in an industry that can render them unemployable ities not easily seen yet experienced, an actor is at the slightest hint of ill-health provides insight into exposed and left vulnerable to several heightened what the acting profession offers its workers and the stressors in an attempt to pursue their dream career extent to which their well-being might be impacted. choice. Income insecurity and identity destabilization Challenging work conditions and the role of It is commonplace for aspiring actors to be lured into vulnerability the profession by a screen star’s image of fame and The acting profession demands frequent auditions. fortune. Yet, heavy financial investments that allow According to the US DOL (2008, 2020), this test of relocation to a large city for a career in acting, work- ability, coupled with elaborate makeup, costume, and ing actors can grapple with questions such as “Will I 58 Australian Journal of Career Development 30(1) earn enough to cover my monthly expenses?” or process that engages “enhanced attention, memory, “How many different jobs do I need to pursue my concentration, imagination, emotional expression, acting career.” The kind of jobs actors find them- physical action, and intellectual analysis” (p. 361), selves employed in between acting opportunities are as well as an oscillation between “me” and “not not just low-paid and low-skilled but also the types of me” to create a character, could leave actors partic- employment fluctuate over their career. According to ularly vulnerable to increased dysregulation, the 2012 Actors’ Wellbeing Survey, 84.7 percent boundary-blurring, and identity destabilization. reported income earned from sources other than Indeed, this research suggested that actors might be acting, in areas of hospitality, teaching, and clerical unaware that personal trauma responses could be work. Maxwell et al. (2018) found retail to be the triggered as they used themselves to portray a char- most common source of work outside of acting. acter; thus generating negative effects on well-being Not only is there the context of low pay and (Thomson & Jaque, 2012). “speculative arrangements with producers”, but actors may take on work assignments for “deferred payment, or as part of a co-operative, dependent Theory-guided career counselling upon reaching a certain box-office threshold”; yet, interventions for actors hold an indirect acknowledgment of the possibility When it comes to an actor’s health and well-being, the of no pay (Maxwell et al., 2018, p. 152). To gain career factors of unstable employment, challenging experience in an acting role not easily found and to work conditions, and income insecurity pose signifi- contribute to a craft they have spent their lives work- cant issues and can cause real distress. The following ing toward, actors often collaborate in small arthouse section will explore the career counselling techniques films, for free. of Holland’s (1997) theory of types, Cochran’s (1997) Compared to other labour markets, Bille and narrative career counselling theory, and Krumboltz’s Jensen (2018) noted several peculiarities in the (1996) social learning theory approaches, which coun- actor’s market through an excess of supply of sellors can use to tap into important areas that have talent, low income on average, a skewed income dis- implications for an actor’s short and long-term well- tribution, and next to no impact of formal education being, as well as working practice. on success. Due to poor earning capacity, the authors of this study found over 50% of stage, film and relat- Using theory of types ed actors, and directors were forced to leave their occupation of choice after 2 years, which is fastest The use of Holland’s (1997) theory of types can pro- compared to other artists (Bille & Jensen, 2018). vide a framework for career-related problems encoun- Maxwell et al. (2018), however, argued a deeper tered in the acting profession. To start with, issue for those who stayed the course: “radical Holland’s (1997) theory of types is based on the insecurity” overtime is a social existence that is notion that individuals seek occupations that fit denied access to benefits and is one that leaves their broad personality. Depicted on a hexagon employees in the “very paradigm of ‘precarity’” (p. model to better understand the relationship between 163). The authors in this study also pointed out that person and environment, Holland developed six cat- further challenges from the phenomenon of an egories defined as, realistic, investigative, artistic, “arrested development”, whereby a sense of “‘playful- social, enterprising, and conventional, which match ness’ demanded of the actor ‘seeps’ into the rest of a personality type to their work environment (Sharf, their lives” (p. 156) and contributes to a feeling 2013). Holland’s view, that personality types flourish of marginalization; thus impacting an actor’s sense in matched environments highlights the key construct of self-worth and identity. of “vocational interest,” where choice in a career is In a landmark study that examined the impact of aligned with a person’s interest. In this case, the actor acting on university student actors, Burgoyne et al. as an “artistic” individual, who enjoys freedom of (1999) found a blurring of boundaries between the expression and unstructured activities in an “artistic” “self” and “role” in the hard-to-discern loop between workplace environment, such as the entertainment theatre and life, which might not only lead to emo- industry, lends to the idea that “career choice and tional distress in students but also can result in an career adjustment both represent an extension of per- actor carrying negative aspects of a character into son’s personality” (Sharf, 2013, p. 119), which, in daily life. This ties into research produced by Seton turn, helps both the actor and counsellor think of (2008) who raised the concern of student actors tap- alternative work options within the artistic environ- ping into a character’s trauma to authentically build ment. An artistic client working in the acting indus- and develop the role, an acting strategy that can try, could, for example, emphasize the importance of become problematic. storytelling, performance, and emotional expression Similarly, research by Thomson and Jaque (2012), in a counselling session. Instead of worksheets and which examined professional and pre-professional written materials, this expressive individual might actors who underwent intensive training, found the prefer a non-structured approach, a discussion, that Chen and Jagtiani 59 makes clear “their excitement centers on their creative themselves dissatisfied with their career prospects. At activity” (Sharf, 2013, p. 122). When it comes to first, this actor found bit parts provided a sense of assessing the behaviour of artistic clients, they are meaning, but was not prepared to compete against “likely to rely on emotions in their discussion of actors in a similar age group who had considerably career issues and to see the choice process as affective more experience, a scenario compounded by low rather than logical” (Sharf, 2013, p. 122). paying parts and years of struggle. This actor regrets For a counsellor, out of Holland’s (1997) four not pursuing the acting profession earlier and now explanatory constructs defined as congruency, differ- might consider acting school to become a well- entiation, consistency, and identity, the construct of rounded actor. According to Sharf (2013), “because “identity” is key to identifying how stable and realis- narrative counselling is a thorough approach” (p. tic an actor’s goals might be within the acting profes- 299), this approach allows the client to interpret and sion. While an actor’s “artistic personality type” is construct meaning from their story as well as recon- congruent with working in an “artistic environment,” struct the outcome of the story that can be applied to the actor remains frustrated with the lack of work and their career. It also allows the client to stay in control has much to share about coping with the stress of the of the narrative and in turn find that they can better industry. However, since actors often do not have a control the outcomes of their lives. chance to express their distress with peers and col- Through a narrative model that helps create dis- leagues, a counselling session can provide the oppor- tance between the client and the problem, Cochran’s tunity to address this issue and compare experiences (1997) first component, allows the client to elaborate with other performers. on the career problem. Considering the significant An actor who works in a profession that facilitates challenges that actors face, some questions could a destabilization of identity will require a counsellor start with the issue of rejection. To whom do actors to be aware of this construct in order to help them turn when they are turned down for a role, and how work through industry discrepancies and what it does the uncertainty of the acting industry affect an might mean to pursue a career in this profession. actor’s self-esteem? Through discussion and journal- With this tool, a counsellor can help create a space ing, methods that will help alleviate some distress, the between the actor as “self” and “other” to rebuild a counsellor and client can investigate issues that cause stable sense of identity. Needing to help improve an actors to be disturbed and discouraged while simulta- actor’s congruency to a demanding workplace, neously inviting the client to take a different perspec- Holland’s (1997) theory of types can be a useful tive on these events to create new meaning. tool for actors to better understand themselves, as In an industry where aspiring actors find them- well as for the counsellor as a way to classify and selves more often between jobs than employed by organize relevant information. the acting job itself, actors can feel socially isolated and misunderstood. The counselling process will offer Using narrative career counselling theory a safe environment for actors to share reflective insights into their craft. The second component In this artistic medium, since actors create, perform, offered by Cochran’s (1997) theory, composing a and express stories through their “characters”, story- life history, allows the counsellor to find moments telling through Cochran’s (1997) narrative career when the client was not only competent but confi- counselling theory could be a suitable approach to dently employed as an actor in a demanding industry, address daily symptoms of stress and anxiety found while Cochran’s (1997) third component of creating a with this population. In Cochran’s (1997) narrative future narrative becomes possible through the career counselling theory, the client is positioned as strengthening of the client’s interests, values, and per- the protagonist, or the leading character so to speak, sonhood, where the client can now foresee a positive in a story. In a collaborative and interactive process outcome in their future. As the client moves forward between the client and counsellor, and based on to the next stage, the narrative-based approach will Cochran’s (1997) seven components, the client is not only help actors better resolve feelings of fear, able to approach their own career story from an out- worry, and anxiety, but also allow them to perceive sider’s perspective. The first three episodes work their career story in a new light and begin to improve toward meaning-making: elaborate a career problem, their health and well-being. compose a life history, and elicit a future narrative (Sharf, 2013). The next three episodes, construct a reality, change Using social learning theory a life structure, and enact a role, focus on being Krumboltz’s (1996) social learning theory focuses on active, while the last episode is the crystallization of cognition and behaviour when it comes to individuals a decision (Sharf, 2013). To illustrate this approach, making effective career decisions, while keeping in take the situation of an individual who started to act mind genetic influences, environmental conditions, late in life. After pursuing the acting dream through learning experiences, and task-approach skills local productions for several years, this person finds (Sharf, 2013). Based on associative learning, as 60 Australian Journal of Career Development 30(1) individuals often make generalizations about occupa- mindedness through the skills of curiosity, persis- tions. The task-approach skills component, which tence, flexibility, optimism, and risk-taking as a way includes setting goals, values clarification, generating to explore unexpected positive outcomes that occurs alternatives, and obtaining occupational information, in a person’s life and career (Sharf, 2013). In this in particular, will benefit actors who often have to theory that “recognizes the importance of chance take on part-time work in between acting jobs. For events in people’s lives,” an emphasis is placed on example, the actor might generalize through self- learning (Sharf, 2013, p. 366). In a constantly chang- observation that they are good at acting, and this ing work environment, the key is to help individuals might determine their career behaviour, but it might use “learning strategies to cope with unexpected even- not generalize accurately to opportunities in the ts” (Sharf, 2013, p. 359). Instead of seeing an event as acting business. To assist this client facing career a setback, a client, through this approach, can issues in the acting field, the counsellor can help iden- reframe the chance event and take advantage of a tify the accuracy of the client’s observations “by a new opportunity. Take, for example, the actor who combination of the quantity of experiences, the rep- lands a part that is scheduled to film during a planned resentativeness of the experiences, and the task- period away from work, such as for a holiday. approach skills that an individual uses in evaluating The counsellor can explore the learning experience these experiences” (Sharf, 2013, p. 359). and facilitate discussions around work adjustment In Krumboltz’s view, “how an individual and help resolve dilemmas. For actors who might approaches a task depends on previous experience have miscalculated their chance of success, and and influences the outcome of the task” (Sharf, are struggling with the insecurity of unemployment, 2013, p. 357). Often, actors apply oral communication a counsellor can help build the skills of curiosity, skills, creative problem-solving abilities, and task- persistence, and optimism, and encourage clients approach skills learned in acting school or on-the- to explore other options to improve their life job to assist with personal learning experiences. For situation. actors who perceive there is less acting work in every- For the actor who prefers the flexibility of design- day life, and worry about their ability to get acting ing schedules on their terms, taking advantage of jobs, and therefore worry about their future, the task- time off between roles might allow room for increas- oriented approach allows the actor to shift focus ing social support experiences. A social learning away from the precariousness of the industry by approach, understood through Krumboltz’s (1996) reflecting on questions grounded in the present, social learning theory, can help actors navigate the such as: why are you here, what brought you to this everyday precarity found in challenging workplace profession, and how do you cope with the pressures conditions. of the industry? Actors might observe their innate abilities and prior learning experience and use this approach in their career decision-making process. Career counselling programs for actors To cope with the ups and downs in the auditioning There is a clear requirement for career interventions for roles, actors can hone their talent other areas, focused on the unique needs and challenges faced by such as retail or the hospitality industry, to lessen professional actors. In the U.S., The Actor’s Career the negative impact of repeated audition rejection, Transition Program (ACTP) based in New York ena- or reframe how they approach the acting industry bles performers to explore their career goals and gain with a more positive mindset. access to meaningful work experiences while remain- There are several strategies that counsellor can use ing in the acting profession, preparing for a second to challenge inaccurate thoughts. Since actors often career or both (Ormont, 1989). The client receives experience themselves as being marginal, the counsel- three to 10 individual sessions with a career counsel- lor can counter troublesome beliefs, such as “I’m not lor, plus workshops which include resume writing, good enough” and reframe the situation as “just interview techniques and job search strategies and because you have not landed a role yet does not others to introduce them to alternate career fields. mean you will not nail a role soon” to replace nega- If needed, they may enrol in additional training clas- tive thoughts with positive self-talk and strengthen ses to improve their computer skills, learn how to positive beliefs. Other methods include the discussion teach English as a second language, and practice free- and presentation of role models from the acting lance writing or publishing. If considering a career industry who have had similar experiences to help change or part-time employment, the counsellor the client make decisions. In tandem, the counsellor draws upon the actors’ strong transferrable skills can draw attention to the actor’s natural skills and such as public speaking, writing, memorizing, selling abilities when it comes to making alternative career and interviewing (The Career Center, 2019). This pro- decisions. gram also offers support groups for actors in the job Krumboltz (2009) also described the happenstance search process, which participants report provides learning theory, a taking advantage of chance events, them with encouragement and a renewed sense of which replaces indecision and encourages open- purpose (Ormont, 1989). Chen and Jagtiani 61 In many North American cities, it is difficult to interest or ability which could be pursued in the find programs which support the career pursuits of meantime while being quite satisfying (Brooks & actors exclusively; however, there are counselling Daniluk, 1998, Ormont, 1989). services which cater to the needs of artists and enter- When employing narrative career techniques, the tainers more generally. There are several noteworthy counsellor can help their clients’ creative, performa- commonalities between professional actors and other tive or story-telling interests shine (Lengelle & artists including having a sense of calling to their cre- Meijers, 2014). It has been suggested that the use of ative work, as well as the challenges of audition narrative guided imagery can be very helpful for these uncertainty, facing discrimination, and financial clients to process upcoming career challenges or to instability (Nicholson et al., 2015; Brooks & create a meaningful future career image (Hartung & Daniluk, 1998). However, unlike professional dancers Vess, 2016). The client and the counsellor co- who typically leave this work in their mid-30s, acting, construct “scripts” for the guided imagery in session, music and visual arts and can be pursued as life-long focused on interactions or scenes of effective careers (Ormont, 1989). These shared career experi- problem-solving (Skovholt et al., 1989). These may ences facilitate the sharing of career interventions and include scripting an upcoming audition or difficult programs among artists and actors. One such pro- gram in Canada is YES-Montreal, which offers conversations with a director. Another creative, group career workshops and individual career expressive technique which actors may find beneficial counselling to artists. One of the workshops employs involves making a three-scene “story-board” of their various self-assessment activities to facilitate career career similar to the story boards created for movie exploration based on suitability (e.g. Holland’s directions, which helps to clarify their personal work types). The one-on-one counselling builds upon this meaning and societal value of their work (Law, 2012). career exploration while strengthening other business Their acting background and industry experience may and soft skills required to succeed as a professional increase the engagement in these techniques and artist (Yes Employment & Entrepreneurship, 2020). strengthen the therapeutic alliance with their counsel- These additional skills are integral to develop, though lor. Adopting a strength-focused lens, the career less often a focus compared to the level of creativity counselling can draw upon existing skills and interests and talent required to perform professionally to help the client scaffold their performance career (Valverde et al., 2020). story, integrate their career identity and make sense In addition to career programs, many existing, of navigating career challenges. established career interventions are appropriate for creative clients in the arts and entertainment industry. These include using self-assessment and instruments geared towards career exploration using Holland’s Conclusion RIASEC types or measurement systems such as the Perhaps the greatest stressor for actors is the uncer- Creative Profiler 2.0, a battery of validated psycho- tainty of employment associated with their profes- metric tests to help actors become aware of their sion. The complex barriers of erratic employment, strengths and weaknesses in promoting their perfor- challenging work conditions, and insecure income mance careers (Lubart et al., 2013). The Creative often leave actors vulnerable to higher levels of anx- Profiler 2.0 draws upon resources including cognitive iety, and, through the nature of the profession, might abilities, personality traits, socio-emotional factors even destabilize personal identity. and environmental conditions; which, taken together, While it is difficult for actors to maintain well- offer a perspective about how to build one’s unique being while working in their industry, career counsel- career path (Valverde et al., 2020). When addressing ling interventions through Holland’s (1997) theory of the assessment of career interests and aptitudes types, Cochran’s (1997) narrative career counselling according to the Holland types, counsellors might theory, and Krumboltz’s (1996) social learning theory consider other sources of work in which an actor might engage, including part-time and temporary can help the actor better clarify and distinguish iden- work (Holland, 1985). Using this data along with tities, create space between personal well-being and specific narrative techniques helps the counsellor career well-being, navigate changes within their pro- and client create a “unifying life portrait” their fession, and, perhaps most importantly, find ways to career stories (Savickas, 2015, p.65). By interweaving better cope with career transitions to build resilience. narrative counselling techniques, clients can become To better shape an actor’s career and personal the “heroes” of their career stories, ensuring their eco- well-being, enhance the art of acting, and provide nomic stability but pursuing part-time or temporary insight to both actor and counsellor, further research “side hustle” work without compromising their com- on the acting profession on a global scale in the per- mitment to their craft (Brooks & Daniluk, 1998). formance arts industries will help tailor interventions While away from the performance work that they and shed light on the complex barriers faced by this feel is their “calling,” they may have a secondary population. 62 Australian Journal of Career Development 30(1) Declaration of conflicting interests timing. Humanity & Society, 43, 217–224. https://doi. The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with org/10.1177/0160597619832047 respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of Hartung, P. J., & Vess, L. (2016). Critical moments in career this article. construction counseling. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 97, 31–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/jvb.2016.07.014 Hays, K. F. (2002). The enhancement of performance excel- Funding lence among performing artists. Journal of Applied Sport The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial Psychology, 14, 299–312. https://doi.org/10.1080/10413 support for the research, authorship, and/or publication 200290103572 of this article: This article was supported in part by a Holland, J. L. (1985). Making vocational choices: A theory Research Grant awarded to Prof. Charles P Chen from of vocational personalities and work environments (2nd the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 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