As the year comes to a close, many actors have told me that they’re feeling doubts and anxiety as they look back on this year (heck, the past few years) and think, “I should have been busier. I should have done more with my time. I shouldn’t have taken a break.”
And that kind of thinking often leads to, “I’m too old, it’s too late or I should be further along by now.” Can you relate?
Piling on the shame, guilt + negative self-talk is no way to “get back into the game.”
But what if I told you that it’s all okay? It’s okay if you haven’t booked anything this year. Heck, it’s even okay if you haven’t booked anything in a few years. It’s okay if you took a break. It’s even okay if this past year turned your hair grey.
That’s exactly where veteran actress Shirley Jordan was when we met. Not only had she not booked a commercial in a few years, but she had to take some time off due to a health issue and needed to tend to her own healing. She was having serious FOMO (fear of missing out).
Whether you’ve been taking a break for a health issue, to take care of aging parents, raise a family or feeling like you aged an entire decade in just 12 months, Shirley’s story will show you the way back to booking.
Learn how Shirley went from a huge “time off” in her career to recurring on Sistas and appearing on top TV shows like This Is Us, NCIS, Code Black, The Affair. Family Reunion, Bunk’D, and starring in commercials. Listen to her tell it here:
And guess what? The first step wasn’t making a massive action plan for Shirley to trudge through. It actually was more about letting go of all the guilt, shame, frustration + feeling like she “should be doing more” during her time off.
Then what happened? She took it one step at a time, and lots of big bookings – including national commercials, and recurring roles on hit TV shows – showed up.
Can you imagine what the New Year would feel + look like without the mental baggage of fear, frustration, shame or guilt about what you did or didn’t accomplish in the past?
Enjoy the full interview here:
Wendy: Your story is so inspiring. Take us back to the beginning, when we first met + you were a student in my workshop. How did it help you get back on track + soar even higher?
Shirley: Your workshop helped me heal. I started doing the modules. And then, of course life happens and I had surgery so I was out for a couple months. And all these anxieties come up. It’s like what am I missing? Am I going to be able to do the same things when I’m back? How long is it going to take me to recover? How do I recover? Ugh…
What did you do to handle all that inner critic noise + feeling like you were missing out?
How I recovered was every day I went for a walk. And I would put on my headphones and I would listen to the next module and as I was going through this healing process they were there, they were my teacher, my angels, and I would do the meditations.
Wow. That’s amazing to hear. I love knowing that my tools were all there for you to listen to whenever you needed them and that they helped you realign your mind and refocus your energy. That’s wonderful.
Once I got to the other side of this healing process I started auditioning. I hadn’t booked a commercial in five years.
But because you had done the inner work, you were now in a different mental state, even after taking this long break.
Yes, and the first commercial I booked was for United Healthcare. And I said, “Ok, this is not lost on me”. And what I had to do was, for the audition, walk around the room.And I had a great time, and of course, I booked it. And I’m leading a team of twenty-five doctors who’ve got my back and I’m just going, “Oh, this was so meant to be!”
YES! Then you combined the inner work + the outer work, and things have just snowballed since then, right?
Beyond that, so many doors have opened. At this point, I now have five episodes on different TV shows. I have two films, I have two commercials.
That is amazing. It’s like the floodgates of bookings opened up once you made peace with taking the time for yourself and let go of all the anxiety about “missing out.”
Yes. It was ok to take the time off and do what I needed to do because everything was still going to be there waiting for me. The Success Breakthrough Workshop is definitely a confidence builder. Because I now have it in my toolkit, I still listen to it, I’m never not going to. And if you just jump in and give it a try, I mean you’ll just see for yourself.
I love that it’s the kind of course you can come back to over and over again + continue to have it as an inspiring resource in your toolkit.
Yes, and I was also incredibly inspired to completely reinvent rather than just rework or revamp the same old stuff. I didn’t care how long it was gonna take. I knew in my bones that it was going to happen when it was ready to happen as long as I took it step by step and put in the work.
Tell me about changing age categories and how you dealt with that.
Once I stopped being in my head about how old I was getting, how grey my hair was becoming, how my weight fluctuated, having to embrace moving into a new category and all that comes with that, getting new pictures to reflect that and so on and so on, things just flowed. So, yes, all those frustrations that got the better of me were set free!
To know that the tools + training inside The Success Breakthrough Workshop helped you get to that place is wonderful to witness for me as a mentor. And what happened once you got out of your own way?
Once I got out of my own way I not only started thriving in my career, but I am enjoying EVERYTHING in my life much more! So, thank you for giving me the tools to continue my journey with confidence and ease.
And to catch us all up, tell us what you’ve been up to during the pandemic.
I was lucky to be sequestered at Tyler Perry’s studio, then known as Camp Quarantine 2020. We remained Covid free for 2 ½ weeks while we filmed our second season of SISTAS – all 22 episodes.
It is something I will be eternally grateful to have experienced in my life. I understand, Mignon, one of the Series Regulars on that show, has also been through the workshop with you! Small world!
Yes, Mignon’s Success Breakthrough story still inspires me to this day, and I love that you both have been my students. A small (and successful) world indeed!
I also booked an episode of NCIS. (The photo was inspired by you, Wendy!) This was especially exciting for me as it has been on my bucket list forever and is a show I haven’t missed for the last 17 years.
I love seeing you manifest moments like this. What else did you learn that you can share with our readers:
One of the most important things I learned from the course was how to stay out of overwhelm. I handle juggling multiple tasks at a time so much better now than before.
Time management is really important. I also rely on cleaning out my clutter, knowing that I am enough while I continue to let things go along the way! All of this and so much more keep me moving forward with a sense of connection and ease.
You really have implemented so much of what you’ve learned and it’s paying off big time. What would you tell another actor who wonders, “Will it ever happen for me?”
I remember a time when auditions were few and far between, phone calls came in drips and bookings, well…I’d beat myself up because I’d procrastinate, because I had bad days, because I felt I wasn’t being thought of, because of my representation, because, because, because…I’d lost faith in myself and felt that apparently the industry had as well. One agency let me go and I hadn’t heard from the other one in forever. You know those days when you feel like quitting? Just getting out of the biz?
Well, I did. I quit.
During that year I did a lot of thinking. I was getting older. My hair was greying. I had gained weight. I was in a funk. So to get out of it, I began to meditate. I tried yoga on the beach. Affirmations. Motivational speakers. Slowly, I physically and mentally began to go to places that made me happy. Then I realized I just needed to fall in love with myself again! Self-love is key to getting further in doing anything and everything.
Once you accept and embrace yourself for exactly who and where you are right now, the steps forward become easier.
Isn’t that the truth, but sometimes easier said than done, when you don’t have a plan.
Yes! I knew that when I got back in the game, I would need a plan. I found that all those things that I blamed my stalled career on were nothing but excuses. And I’m definitely bigger than my excuses! I did. I sought out help. I became fully involved in positively moving myself forward. I was not going to leave it up to fate, timing, luck, coincidence, (which I don’t believe in) again.
You really invested in yourself and did the inner + the outer work. You are such a testament to the importance of both.
The work was hard and seemingly nonstop, but I was having the time of my life working on what I wanted to work on in the way I wanted to do it. I could really feel that I was on my way to becoming who I was meant to be. One of my many affirmations was “This or something better now manifests itself for me in totally satisfying and harmonious ways for the greater good of all concerned.”
I ended up with the agents I wanted – and still love so very much. I have a management team that truly rocks! (They found me, by the way). I reinvented myself into someone the industry and I both now see as someone worth auditioning.
That feeling of being worthy is everything. So beautiful to hear how this all dovetailed together. So to those who feel stuck, what would you say?
When you feel that way, like you’re being left out or stalled, stop and take a big breath. Quitting was my big breath. It doesn’t have to be yours. And in that breath, get yourself ready to work. What you put into it; you get out of it. And always lean forward with love.
In “We’re Alive” as Tanya, the tenacious doctor on the award-winning audio podcast with over 250 million downloads worldwide: www.zombiepodcast.com
Any final parting thoughts for other actors:
Be gentle with yourself. Drop the woulda, shoulda, coulda’s and bad mouthing yourself. That’ll just send you deeper down the rabbit hole you’re trying to get out of.
There are a lot of areas that are within your control when it comes to your career. There are a lot of questions, too. Ask away. Dig deep. You may be surprised with what you find!
Thank you Shirley. Your story will inspire so many others to know that the inner and the outer work are the keys to changing everything. I’m so excited to see what’s next for you.
Thank you for sharing my story.. I so appreciate it. I hope it helps others understand that they are not alone on their journey and it’s ok to literally stop and think about your next move. I’m so glad I did.
I’m happier now than I’ve ever been with myself and my career!
I am grateful to you, Wendy, for your love and support and know I can count on your wisdom and thoughtfulness for years to come.
That’s so inspiring, and yes, you can most definitely count on my continued support.
Want to see more stories of transformation like this? Click here.
Want to learn more about The Success Breakthrough Workshop (that’s been featured in Forbes and has changed the lives and careers of creatives in 25 different countries?) Click here.