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Talking Confidence and Discipline with Actor Max Belmonte

  • Written by Max Belmonte

“Fake it til you make it'' is a phrase we hear a lot, whether referring to creative pursuits, career or social endeavours, but what does it actually mean? As someone who quit my corporate office job to pursue a lifelong dream of acting, I certainly had to dig deep into the concept of confidence and discipline. The trajectory of someone self-employed often lands entirely on their work ethic and ability to show up for opportunities and pivotal moments. A culmination of attitude, organisation, self-belief and risk taking can lead a person to great heights and surreal successes. When I jumped into the acting world, I stood strongly by the key habits I could feel were important and would soon become the pillars of my career. The interplay of a confident mindset and disciplined habits is what I believe to be the right recipe for success:

Early Years

I wasn’t always confident, in fact up until my senior years at high school I was really shy, particularly in new situations. If you would have told the younger Max that he would be DJ’ing live to air on Radio, Acting on stage & screen, and negotiating in a Sales role he would turn bright red and run away.

I managed to follow what I found fun and that led me to work in Radio while in high school. Working in various PR roles for a Community Dance Music Station gave me a lot of confidence. Later in my early corporate life there would be a few situations where I would take a hit to my confidence. I was my own worst enemy at times over analysing situations where really, I could have just followed my intuition, and this improved with experience.

It is so easy to spend too much time trying to push yourself to be perfect over everything. An impossible task. At times I can be my own worst enemy – or critic really. To combat this I make sure I have a clear objective, that I am dedicating enough quality time to a task. This may even mean having the discipline to be able to stop, break, and come back to something.

Now as an Actor

After twenty years of corporate life and creatively, having worked as a Producer and DJ broadcasting live to air, it’s hard for me to find too many moments when I’m lacking confidence. But it does happen, and when it does, particularly with my Acting, I go back to basics, what do I actually need to get done here? Am I worrying about something I can’t even control? And if it's something I can influence, such as fixing my character's accent in a scene, I’ll just take some time to do the basic exercises or sentences I use to help.

For me discipline starts by being organised. I still use colours throughout my diary, and I still love an organised spreadsheet. Discipline, with experience, allows me to prioritise more effectively so I can make sure I’m enjoying everything I do.

Advice for Confidence and Discipline

Confidence helps a great deal for Actors. Walking into a room full of strangers confident and ready to practice your acting in an audition setting helps the Casting Director and others to see the real you. This may be the only time they get to see who you are prior to starting the scene. Confidence ensures you can be relaxed and in the right mindset to jump into the scene focused.

For those who struggle with confidence my advice is to keep work fit. Look at what you can control and your goals and break down how you plan to achieve them into easier steps. In Acting, your accent work, monologues, and scene work to keep work fit. In corporate, taking time out to evaluate how you're going towards your goals and be proactive in getting there. Don’t wait for your performance review, take charge of your development.

Approaching discipline starts with being organised in life and work. Don’t be a victim to everyone else’s priorities, timelines, and problems. Whether it’s a plan for a corporate project, a character you're developing, or something you want in your personal life, break it down into more achievable steps and celebrate the wins.

Skills I applied to being an actor from my experience in the corporate world:

  • Public speaking and presentation skills, whether it's presenting to the boardroom, a demanding customer, or the entire company.

  • Presenting as confident and being persuasive is vital whether you are in business or the creative industries.

  • Knowing what you don’t want is just as powerful as knowing what you do want.

  • The importance of emotional intelligence.

  • People skills and risk taking.

  • Building effective relationships quickly.

The learning curves I experienced after leaving:

  • The career path of an actor is rarely easy and even the biggest stars can have slow periods. Learning various tips and tricks to keep busy, work fit and motivated helped.

  • Smaller steps you can take while working your current job can make a big difference; enroll in a course after lunch, start networking, etc. I had seven seasons of Sydney Theatre Company membership, countless Premieres with Artist Q&A’s before I accepted it was time to make the change.

  • Starting a new career seemed overwhelming but I set up milestones each week to keep me from being discouraged by meeting agents, casting directors, developing a reel, getting headshots, working on Student films and a website.

  • There were periods where I felt an ‘imposter syndrome’ but I just kept focused on these steps I had laid out to work through it.

  • I just started to feel like everything creative was falling into place just as the pandemic hit. Fortunately having a home studio set up for voice overs helped.

  • As each lockdown hit and Acting opportunities stopped, voiceover work would increase.

Self reflection about the journey:

  • Personal development: I wasn't taking Acting that seriously as a teenager. I knew that I loved Acting but really didn't have the maturity to focus on this while my passion for success in the corporate world was growing. Plus the life experience of 20 years of corporate life is great fuel for an Actor!

  • Life is improv, I have certainly learnt to trust my intuition and act on it accordingly.

  • People will think you are crazy; most people are fearful of change and a loss of security. There were many, both corporate and creative, who thought I was crazy to walk away from such security.

Books or resources that have been helpful during the transition / finding a new path:

  • Workshop with Anthony Brandon Wong in the Chubbuck Acting Technique that really helped me shake off the last of the corporate Max.

  • Talking to guests from all walks of life and various job roles on my podcast, Two Unemployed Actors, has shown me different sides to the industry. I have interviewed casting directors, voice coaches and so many of crew members that are normally behind the scenes to learn from their experiences.

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