With the Primetime Emmy Awards around the corner, the industry is gearing up for a night of anticipation, surprises, and triumphs. Casting Director Deborah Barylski is no stranger to the excitement: She took home her own Emmy for casting Arrested Development. In the midst of awards season fervor, Barylski spoke with Casting Networks to share how actors can find balance in their lives, no matter where they’re at in their careers. So, whether you’ll be watching the show from your living room or walking the red carpet before it starts, consider these life lessons from an Emmy Award-winner.
Lesson 1: Don’t Postpone Your Life for Your Career
“I find that a lot of artistic people get so wrapped up in their careers that they forget to have a life. They make the focus of their whole life their career. Maybe some actors feel they have to do that to succeed, but I really feel that life, in all of its glorious elements, feeds the artist. I know some people disagree with this, but I think that being an actor is what you do and not who you are. I think a balanced life makes a more fulfilled person and a more filled-out actor. The more experience you have, the more you have to draw on. So, don’t postpone that trip to Italy. Don’t postpone getting married. Don’t do it.”
Life Lesson 2: Find Other Artistic Outlets
“Let’s talk about actors in film and TV, and let’s say that you’re finally in the group of people that gets semi-regular auditions. The statistics say that maybe you’ll book 10 or 20 percent of them. That means that 80 percent of the time, you’re getting rejected, which can lead to a great deal of dissatisfaction and frustration. That’s why a lot of film and TV actors are members of theater companies: they get to act somewhere. That’s one outlet. But don’t just limit yourself to the area in which you think you’re most well-trained or best-suited for. Just take a chance. Take a class in something new. You never know what’s behind that door. You might find that you’re very good at something you didn’t know you were good at.”
Life Lesson 3: Give Back
It is so easy to be self-involved as an actor, and you must be to a certain extent. You have to be proactive and take care of yourself because nobody else is going to. But don’t get too tunnel-visioned. When you’re not as busy, give back 10 percent of your time. So let’s say you have a 40-hour workweek. That means you give away four hours a week. Find a charity or a cause to support. It gets you out of focusing on your own belly button, it grows your capacity for empathy, and it gives you a break from your own mind. There’s that constant brain chatter that goes on of, “How am I going to get that audition?” or, “Why am I not booking?” And those questions are valid and need addressing but not obsessing over. Do something for someone else; it puts your issues in perspective.
Life Lesson 4: Take Care of Yourself
You must take care of your physical body and your voice because you are your instrument. I believe that most of what we do when we are artists is: we channel. When everything works and you find yourself in the zone, that’s the result of hard work and grace. You can call it God’s grace if you want to, or just call it inspiration. Call it whatever you want, but train your instrument so that when the inspiration comes, you know what to do with it.
Actors looking for more balance in their lives will find much to draw on in Barylski’s advice. The Emmy-winning casting director also walks the walk: She found success in her own career while living out these tenets. Kim Marie Swanson shared in her own Casting Networks interview how Barylski helped her land one of her first LA casting jobs when she was new to the area. Barylski even let Swanson stay in her spare room for a summer so that she could find her feet in the business. But when asked about it, Barylski kept it humble, leaving us with one last lesson: “Well, someone did it for me. So, you know, you’ve got to pass it on.”