How to handle criticism

How to handle criticism

This is a very personal blog, having had to learn how to handle criticism at a very early age – 14 to be precise, when I’d first decided I wanted to become an actor. I’m sharing this to help you as the acting industry can be rife with criticism.

My story

At school…

I heard everything from “You’re too quiet to get into drama school”, “What do YOU want to be an actor for?” to “You’ll never make it”.

At college…

After leaving school I foolishly thought that would be the end of it. The snide remarks kept coming “Louise is the tutors project, she’s seeing how far she can get her”.

At drama school…

You were out of control in that performance”, “That was f%*king sh%t” – yes a drama school director did say that to me, in front of the rest of the year, right before our third year showcase – I felt so humiliated and was furious.

These opinions were not asked for. There was no consideration for the impact they would have on me mentally and emotionally or on my confidence. Did they think they were helping me somehow?

Here’s the lesson

Actually the criticism did help.

In the beginning when I was a young 14 year old with a big dream, I kept those comments in mind. It was those that spurred me on; they motivated me to get into drama school and I did. Would I have been so motivated without them?

When I was 16 years old, to put it bluntly, I didn’t give a shit what those girls at college were saying about me because I was so focused on my dream, nothing was going to stop me. 

However at the age of 21, about to graduate from drama school, those comments hurt, they came from my “peers” and what they were saying wasn’t constructive. My confidence took a HUGE nose-dive and I didn’t handle them so well. It took me years to move past them and my acting career didn’t gather the momentum it should have – I allowed that!

The lesson… I was always in control, it wasn’t the criticism but my reaction that stopped me making huges strides with my career. I was still hanging onto old news.

No-one is immune from criticism

You may get criticised for your acting ability, the roles you take on, for your acting career not moving as quick as others expect it and anything else someone decides they want to take a dig at.

This morning I noticed Leonardo DiCaprio getting criticism after his Oscar win… Crazy I know, when it seemed the whole world was backing him.

We can’t control what others say or do but we can control ourselves and our reactions. How we bounce back from criticism is more important than what has actually been said.

I’m going to share with you three game-changing tips on how to handle criticism so you can keep moving forward with your acting dreams and goals.

  1. Ask yourself if the criticism is of value to you – You always have a choice. You are the master of your life/acting life. Do you keep playing it over and over in your head or do you throw it away? If it isn’t serving you bin it or it will stall your career.
  2. How can you benefit from the criticism? – If you can’t stop playing it in your head, it needs to be used in a positive way, to motivate and drive you. Can you use it to prove your critics wrong and achieve your acting goals?
  3. How will your acting grow from this? – You need to not get emotionally attached to the criticism, this hinders any chance of you growing and finding the success you want. Were there any lessons for you in the criticism? Will it help you react better to future criticism?  Everything whether negative or positive is always an opportunity to grow if you allow it to be.

As an aspiring actor, you must ride the wave. The industry can be fickle and people can be fickle. You could be flavour of the month one minute and hated the next ( not an actor but think David Beckham, world cup).

Those who succeed take it in their stride and don’t let it hold them back. It’s not worth letting it keep you up at night.

Will criticism be your excuse to quit or your inspiration to keep going?

If you found this useful or have anything else to add I’d love to chat with you. Pop your thoughts in the box below.





If you found these tips useful, you can grab yourself more tips completely FREE. Louise O’Leary is a professional actress, method acting coach and CEO of StandBy Method Acting Studio. Her mission is to help as many actors as she can achieve their acting dreams and become the best actor they can be. Join the hundreds of actors around the world who have downloaded her eBook “Respect your craft, discover my top 45 method acting secrets to launch your career”. Download here and be on your way to acting success today!

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