On Focus

Jul 27, 2012 by     10 Comments    Posted under: Attitude, Thousands of Stories, Three Actors

I really like writing blog posts. In fact, I LOVE writing them, and I get lots of benefits when I do. So why haven’t I been consistent about it recently? One word: focus.

One of the first things I noticed when I moved to Los Angeles is that there is a tremendous amount of opportunity. Someone is always making a movie, a web series, a student film. You can get into voiceover, loop groups, hosting, or commercials. There are more theatres per capita than any city in the US (the world?), you can be in single-camera comedies, multi-cam, or hour-long procedural dramas. There are opportunities to produce your own work, direct, write, or play your ukelele on Venice boardwalk. And in all of this, it’s very easy to lose focus.

Strategic Lack of Focus

I’m now moving past three years of being in Los Angeles, and I have made it a point to try just about everything. I’ve dabbled in producing, writing, hosting, improv, voiceover, and the list goes on. The benefit of this, is that I have a remarkable sense of what I most enjoy, and a very well-rounded understanding of the entire entertainment industry. I employed this same strategy in high school and in college to very good results. The key, though, is that once you’ve tried a lot of things, you need to begin jettisoning those activities that you are less passionate about, that distract you from your ultimate goal.

The Seduction of Busyness

I like being busy. I like working on a lot of things, having my hands in multiple projects at any given time. This can serve me very well at times, as I am exposed to a very high number of opportunities. The trap, however, is that I can get sucked in to just being busy. In the past couple months I’ve taken an extremely critical look (thanks Ryan) at what I’m spending my time on, and whether or not it’s directly feeding my ultimate goals. In the end, I realized that a lot of my energy was being spent on things adjacent to my vision. Whether that was producing, working on voiceover, or anything that is not directly related to putting me in front of the camera creating excellent content. The trap is that these things are certainly more productive than sitting on my couch eating funyuns (ew), but it is not the most effective use of my time. The other trap is that as a lot of opportunities come my way, it gets very easy to respond to them, rather than initiate the activities that will most drive my career (and my soul) forward.

Eye on the Prize

So how do you know what activities to initiate? Well, first you must be extremely specific about what you actually want. If you are unclear about where you are ultimately heading, you will get vague results. One of the ways that I have gained clarity about what my ultimate goals really are, has been by trying a lot of things. Now that I have completed that phase, though, I can move forward towards my vision. Moreover, with a very clear sense of where I want to go, it becomes very easy to make a decision. Even if an opportunity seems amazing, if it doesn’t match up with your vision you can say no, with the knowledge that it will only keep you from achieving what you actually want.

Final Thoughts

The great thing about living in a big city is the complete abundance of opportunity. I would urge you, though, to not get seduced by just any opportunity that comes your way. Just because someone else wants you to work on something, doesn’t mean it’s a good decision. In my life, I realized that any hour I was spending recording a VO audition when I hadn’t written a blog post that week was me being seduced by random opportunities. I love writing for PvsPB, and I’m excited to bring some really great content in the very near future. I look forward to sharing with you some stellar interviews coming down the pipeline, and lots of exciting developments in my life as an actor.


Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.

10 Comments + Add Comment

  • YEAH!!!! Great stuff here. It’s really hard to say no to things, especially when people seek you out specifically to take part in them, but it can get you scattered in a way that eventually becomes a waste of time. And then when those gigs don’t pay or barely pay, it’s like seriously what is the point??!! I think utlimately though, you have to be grateful that you are a highly motivated persona who is accustomed to executing things, and that means you are ahead of most actors. That’s what I say to myself anyway!

    • benwhitehair

      Miki,

      Totally agree. And taking action on things, even if they’re not completely on target, is certainly WAY better than doing nothing. I’m definitely thankful for that, and also excited to see if/how my results change as I get more focused.

      Thanks for being awesome!

  • Good stuff, Ben. I aimed for everything from acting to stunt work to dancing to directing before I settled on animation. You need to focus at some point.

    • benwhitehair

      Or focus on one thing for a while and then another thing.

  • Good thoughts. This is why I finally decided to stop doing theater out here. As much as I loved the acting workout, it wasn’t moving me closer to my real desire, which is to be working in film and television. I love the focus and results that have come to me this year as a result of committing to that decision.

    • benwhitehair

      Totally agree. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • Great post, Ben! And well-timed, too… I’ve certainly been feeling somewhat scattered of late myself. And the idea of honing in on those projects & actions that move you forward is important, especially in the summer when things feel “slow” in the industry because of hiatus and people just take up busywork. Downtime like this is the BEST time to refocus and determine if you’re on track toward your goals. Don’t wait for December!!

  • So hear you Ben! Have just gone through the same process (still going through it), but am already shedding that stuff that doesn’t serve my long term vision – which is my acting. The process for me started a couple of months ago and funnily enough – as soon as my focus went back to what I want to be doing (acting), opportunities suddenly opened up in that exact area. Loving the blog, have subscribed and look forward to following the next chapter of your journey as it unfolds – it’s great inspiration for my own! Cheers and see you online!

    • benwhitehair

      Love it! Thanks so much for commenting.

Got anything to say? Go ahead and leave a comment!

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>