4.7 How to overcome periods of misfortune
Everyone goes through periods of misfortune. It would be rare for an actor to go through his career without ever experiencing a downturn in fortunes.
I too, have gone through such times. It was quite a while ago. I provide narration in the previews for a programme called Sunday Movie Theatre, but there was a point in time when that was the only piece of work I had to do within a single month. You might be thinking, ‘Oh it was for just one month’, but to an actor, if the work starts to dry up you might never see job offers coming your way in the future. I did think that my career was coming to a premature end. Perhaps I was too cheeky, or maybe I didn’t fit the trends…a lot of thoughts crossed my mind.
At that point in time I’d been so busy that I was getting dizzy from it all. Stress had worsened my chronic asthma and my schedule became difficult to adjust. For CMs and narration, the job could be done very quickly but for work that required continuous role-making, I found that I was being forced to split my energy between works that required a bit more effort and those that didn’t. By doing so, I of course invited criticism from other parties – ‘Look, Otsuka Akio is half-arsing it’. I can talk about it this way now but at the time, it felt like a terribly arduous ordeal.
However, when you’ve not got any work, it’s important to sit down and think. Rethink various issues, reflect upon them and once again, gather resolve – as a result, I was able to turn my fortunes around once I landed my next job.
My father experienced a period of illness once and he too, saw all the job offers slipping away. This was before I became a seiyuu myself. When this happened, my father refused to leave the house, diligently meditating alone in his room. No haste, no fuss; instead, he just continued to contemplate why he was not getting any work. I only realized how important his actions were when I went through the same situation. Rather than blame the environment or my agency, I calmly and single-mindedly considered the question of why I wasn’t getting any work. By doing that, I was able to see things more clearly.
To people like us who aren’t receiving fixed salaries, it is a big problem when we start getting less jobs, even if it’s only for a month. It also takes quite a bit of time in order to see a return to normal levels of work. You should set aside enough for you to get by on for a while so that you don’t lose your head and start seeking part-time work when you’re hit by times of misfortune. This is also something essential that actors should prepare themselves for.