2011 Annual Review Part 1: A Year of Personal Growth

Feb 29, 2012 by     3 Comments    Posted under: Attitude, Relationships, Three Actors

2011 is now two full months behind us, but I think it’s super import to continually check in with ourselves and our progress. I’ve done annual reviews for 2010 and 2009 previously, and those posts discuss the structure and importance of my annual reviews. (You can find my annual review on 2009 here, and then my 2010 posts here and here.) Again, we’re all the CEOs of our own companies, and it’s imperative to continually look at what’s working, and what isn’t.

I’ll dive into the actual data in Part II, but from an empirical standpoint, 2011 was for me a year of dramatic personal growth. I spent an immense amount of time and energy looking inward, dealing with pain I was carrying around from my past, and taking a serious look at how I’m being in general and in my relationships.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, the most profound revelations in the past year came out of revisiting the abuse I experienced as a teenager, and clearing myself of the bitterness I was still holding onto. In addition, I profoundly reconnected with the Big Picture and my Vision for the world. As I became more deeply integrated with myself and why I live the life I do, huge successes came my way and I rediscovered a profound motivation.

My vision for the world is one in which the only limitation on any individual is the extent of their imagination. As soon as I made this my focus I booked a role in a movie (when the writer, someone I met while auditing an acting class 2 years ago and haven’t spoken to since, messaged me on facebook) which creates a dialogue around  rape and domestic violence…two issues I’m passionate about addressing. Weeks later I booked my first national TV credit on CSI: Miami. While being a huge step forward in my career, the more profound benefit to me with that the role allowed me to have a megaphone (literally) and tens of millions of people to hear my own words on political topics I care deeply about. It was, to me, a sign from the universe that I can effect the kind of change I want and have the impact I desire in my current path.

Along with my personal and spiritual growth, my craft has been taken to a whole ‘nuva leva’. My focus on ways of being has made me more present, open, and vulnerable in my life and in my work. Increased confidence has also significantly improved my performance in the audition room and on screen.

I should also note that in 2011 I signed with an incredible manager, David Kohl. Building my team was the primary aim for the year, and I’m thrilled to have made created that. I also started working with a theatrical agent, and continued with my commercial agency. (Side note, the relationship with both my theatrical and commercial agencies ended in the past week, but more on that here shortly.)

Lastly, I continued to focus on relationships as the key way to book work. I rarely if ever self-submit, and I now rely on networking (read: connecting with people), previous relationships, and my representation to generate auditions and offers.

Final Thoughts

As actors we get hired for our energy. Our presence. The way we walk into a room. It can be easy to discount or altogether ignore working on ourselves as human beings, but I’m not sure there’s a better pursuit as an actor. Similarly, it can be easy to get bogged down in the grind and lose sight of why you started acting in the first place. I’ve learned that the most powerful foundation I can have is my vision for the world. Why not take a minute, a lunch break, a long weekend to remind yourself (or discover) why it is that you’re here. What do you want your tombstone to say? Then with that in mind, go forth and have as much freaking fun as possible. :p

Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.