I was talking to a friend of mine recently who is also a parent and former-actor with very little desire to return to the spotlight anytime soon. After a couple of drinkies she bemoaned “OMG am I one of those failed actors?”

Okay, first of all, what even is a “failed” actor? Someone who’s never been paid for acting? Someone who’s never gotten a job or booked an audition? Jeez, that would be most of us in the fucking room.

See, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “failed” actor.

There are bad actors, but to me that has less to do with talent and more to do with professionalism. I’d rather work with a less talented actor who treats people right and shows up rather than one who is disrespectful.

Yes, there are successful actors. But the word “successful” is fluid and means different things for everyone.

If you equate money with success, then guess what? All but two percent of us are failed actors. Two percent!!

If you equate fame and a lot of money with success, well, then I can’t help you.

I don’t consider myself a failed actor at all. I quit for the time being (or forever, I’m not sure yet), but by no means am I a failure. And neither are you.

First of all, as a parent, you’ve embarked upon the most incredible life journey. A poop-filled, always cleaning, always cooking, always feeding, never sleeping journey. Your decision to priorities raising your children is selfless and admirable and brave. The path to and of parenthood is transformative. You will never be the same. Never discount the dedication and sacrifices you’ve made.

If you find yourself asking yourself if you’re a failed actor, allow me to remind you that it’s normal to question whether you’ve failed at something when your path in life goes in a different direction than you thought it would. Your worth as a person isn’t defined by this one thing, no matter how dedicated and devoted you were to it in the past. Your value as an actor isn’t defined by this either. You’re more than just your acting career.

Choosing to put your acting career on the back burner to raise your children is a testament to your love and commitment as a parent. This decision wasn’t made lightly. You know that. Deep down. You know that. As much as it hurts, you did what you believe is the best thing for your family. Recognize that. Embrace it.

Focusing on raising your family instead of your acting career doesn’t mean your dreams and goals have died. They’ve just been placed elsewhere for the time being. Remember, life is made of moments, even now and then a bad one. But if life were only moments, then you’d never know you had one.

Was that proper use of that lyric? It’s been awhile.

Musical theatre references aside, this chapter of your life is so precious, so short. Raising your children is only part of your entire life journey. It’s never too late to return to the stage when the time is right. When you and your family are ready.

And listen, all of this isn’t to say you need to give up your passion completely. There are countless ways to pivot your love for theatre and performance into your new normal. Instead of auditioning, take a weekly class. Instead of leaving the house to do 8 shows a week, set up a home recording studio and do voiceover work. Or see my list of 25 Things Non-Working Actors Should Do for simpler ideas that are easier to incorporate daily. The Places, Please! Box is another great way to introduce theatre to your children. Check out my review here!

At the end of the day, your worth extends far beyond this single career choice. A choice you made because you are a loving, responsible parent who is doing what is best for your family. Know this: The impact you are making as a parent is immeasurable.

You are not a failure.


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woman alone onstage above the words "Are You a Failed Actor"