Actors Who Self Sabotage (Yes, I’m Talking About You)

Today, I found myself in an all too familiar position.  Here I was, calling an actor who was a no show for an audition for a well-paid gig. I also found myself in this position yesterday so I know it well.  When actors book an audition and then bail at the last minute, it not only reflects poorly on the actor but also on the casting director.  The casting director has to endure the exasperated looks from the producers and writers because an actor hasn’t shown up.  Maybe even the clients are in the room, and I’m sitting there trying to get actors and agents on the phone.  If the auditions don’t go smoothly, it’s likely that the client won’t hire me again and it is definite that I will never call the actors who bailed again. And if any other casting director asks me about that actor, I will make sure to tell them that he/ she was a no show for me and seems unreliable.
Actors often assume that we’re seeing tons of people for every role and their absence won’t be noted, but the fact is that technology has made it easier for us to narrow down choices and we may only call in a handful of people.  That was the case today, when one out of the three people we were seeing just didn’t show up.  It’s embarrassing for me, the producer, the director and everyone involved. Actors should know that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.   I wrote about actor flakiness before, but I think it goes deeper than that.  What it’s really about is self sabotage.

For every committed, hardworking actor there is another so-called actor who is really a  self-saboteur.  A self-saboteur is someone who likes pretending to be a struggling actor.  He or she will casually look at auditions, but never go because, I mean, what’s the point. When he gets called in for an audition, he’ll just blow it off or decide he’s too sick or busy to go in.  The self-saboteur likes to complain about a lack of opportunities, but when an opportunity arises she is quick to dismiss it.  She has that attitude of ” I’m not right for it anyway” or ” I’m sure they’re just going to cast someone famous” or “It will just be a waste of time.” The self-saboteur psychs himself out and decides that the whole casting process  is stacked against him.  The difficult thing is that it’s often hard to spot self-saboteurs until it’s too late.  I’ve started to learn the early warning signs, and in the future I’ll be sure to heed those warnings.  Are you a self saboteur?  Take this quick quiz to find out!

1. How long does it take you to return calls from casting professionals?

A) less than an hour

B) Before the end of the business day

C) Within 24- 48 hours

D) I don’t really check my voicemail


2) How up to date is your headshot?

A)  It’s like looking in the mirror

B) It’s a couple of years old, but I look the same

C) It’s in black and white

D) Well, my hair is much shorter and a different color now, but it kind of looks like me…

3.  The last time you went on an audition…

A) was within the last 10 days and I always show up on time and prepared.

B) was a few weeks back.  I’m selective but I always show up on time and prepared.

C) was maybe a month or so ago, not sure.  They all blend together.

D) Auditions are just a waste of time.

The Results

If you answered A to all questions, you’re in good shape.  Also, if you answered B to all (or a mixture of As and Bs) you don’t really have anything to worry about. However, if you answered C to any questions, you’re in danger of slipping into self sabotage limbo, and if you answered mostly Ds you are a fully committed self-saboteur.

So what doe sit all mean?  Well, if you’re a committed self-saboteur, it’s time to re-evaluate your choice to be an actor. If a writer never writes is he still a writer?  If an actor never acts is she still an actor?  Think about your relationship with acting and whether it’s something you still want to do.

7 thoughts on “Actors Who Self Sabotage (Yes, I’m Talking About You)

  1. Andrea Shane says:

    I totally agree, AND another thing to remember is that actors who show up on time and prepared are the ones who get asked to be readers, to help out with a reading of a new play, and are the names who get offered to colleagues who call and say “I’m not gonna do auditions for this ’cause we’re just going to be in my living room, but do you know anyone…?” Those are the amazing connection-making opportunities. Those are the people who always seem to be working on something, even if it doesn’t seem to be a big deal at the time. Making a good impression over and over again is the most important thing you can do for your career.

  2. Celitheactress says:

    I love this post! And I really like how you put the little quiz at the end. It is always good to know where you stand as far as your career choice. I’m so sorry to hear that folks bailed on you. When I have the pleasure and opportunity to audition for someone, I know that it is a reflection on the whole team. ( I was a casting assistant for a project) I believe trying different hats in this business is valuable. You learn so much! Hopefully one day I will audition for you 🙂

    Continued Success!


  3. Shydel says:

    Great post!

    Based on your quiz, I’m a mixture of A’s and B’s, and find that when I get exhausted from the audition process, it’s best that I take a few months to step away and enjoy my other love: writing.

    It’s safer that way. Then, I don’t risk becoming a self-sabotaging actor and ruin valuable working relationships in the process.

  4. Daryl T Sturgis says:


    This is so on the money. I have several actor friends who fall into the self-sabotage category. Just last week a friend was suppose to meet with an agent and she called the agent to confirm their appointment and I guess the agent didn’t call back fast enough so she said it wasn’t meant to be and just didn’t go. HUH? Really? And don’t get me started on my friend in LA who has been a “struggling writer” since 1997.

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