When I was trying to make it as an actor, I actively avoided having actor friends or becoming part of any acting communities. I just wanted to go to acting class, rehearse for auditions with my boyfriend, and grind it out til I got my break.
I just didn’t see the value or importance of community.
It seemed like there were only two options.
Worst case: the community would suck and you’d end up pulling other people’s weight, inevitably failing because of that.
Best case: the community would be awesome and you’d never know whether you succeeded because you were truly exceptional or just because you knew the right people.
So I avoided the film community like the plague and tried to forge my own independent path. One that relied just on my own skills.
I made checklists for how many movies I needed to watch per week and Excel sheets that tracked which casting directors were calling me in. I bugged my agent about feedback from every major audition, no matter how many times she said no.
It felt like the responsibility for making it in this industry was entirely in my hands, and I felt that burden.
But I thought that was how it had to be.
That relying on other people for emotional support, connections, work, or even just commiseration was cheating. That succeeding on your own was the true test of character.
Needless to say, it was a lonely experience.
I saw friends who had focused on building bonds with each other develop their networks in the film industry, audition more, land more roles, go to more parties, meet more people.
It seemed easy and it seemed fun.
Meanwhile, I struggled with all the above.
It felt like I was rolling a boulder uphill all by myself, and that neither my successes nor my failures mattered because I had no one to share them with. Just me and my Excel spreadsheets.
I eventually lost the joy of acting and my taste for the industry, and I quit altogether.
I was in my mid 20’s when I co-founded my first startup, a company in the film/tech space.
I hadn’t fully abandoned my acting career yet (that would come 3 years later when I met Niloo), but it was no longer my focus.
While the new company was still related to film (we were building a robot agent for film crew), the work of being a founder was completely unfamiliar to me. I didn’t know what skills were required, what the work would look like, or even how to measure success.
Maybe it was because I knew nothing about being a founder and could admit that I needed the help. Or maybe it was just how thoughtful and kind the people I met early on were.
Either way, this time — I decided I didn’t want to go it alone.
I wanted to be surrounded by other people who had similar values, were tackling the same problems, and understood the challenges I was facing. I knew how much I had to gain from their experience and insights.
And I no longer felt like I would be unworthy if I turned to other people for help, or that it would somehow diminish my success if I didn’t do it all on my own.
Suddenly, my community became a source of inspiration.
And as I found my footing as a founder, I found that I could give back just as much as I’d been given.
I could invite new founders into the communities I belonged to and offer introductions, guidance, and access to insider events where I could.
I could also share my own experience with the harder parts of the industry. Like managing burnout, handling co-founder disagreements, and what it takes to get a company off the ground.
Finally, this whole community thing clicked.
This reciprocity, support, and feeling like we were all in it together finally made sense.
It was everything I’d been missing as an actor because I so firmly believed I needed to do it all on my own.
I only understood the importance of community to my career, mental health, and sense of purpose after I’d experienced it first-hand.
There was so much to be gained from not going it alone, and not just for me.
So what are some things you can do to build your own communities so you can experience all those benefits for yourself?
I can’t wait to see what this unlocks for you.
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