You must redefine how to draw your self-worth. When pursuing acting as a career, dry spells in work aren’t just possible or probable; they’re inevitable. Every actor has experienced them. But If you’re basing your self-esteem entirely on how well your career is going, you’re in for a very bumpy ride. You are not your work. Separate yourself from the parts of your career that are out of your hands.
As a part of our interview series with the rising stars in pop culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maggie Bera.
Maggie is a NYC-based actress with a BFA in Musical Theatre from Texas State University. Professionally, she’s appeared in regional theatre productions across the country (including Theatre Under The Stars, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, and Fireside Theatre), commercials, television shows (HBO’s The Big C starring Laura Linney) and is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity. Maggie is also the founder of Actor Aesthetic, an actor lifestyle blog, podcast, and online learning community.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thanks for having me!
I’ve been exposed to the theatre industry from a very young age. Growing up near NYC, I was fortunate enough to be able to commute in and out of the city for auditions and to see Broadway shows. I’ve since performed professionally off-Broadway, regionally, and in commercials and on television. It wasn’t until my time at Texas State University that I began pursuing a path as an entrepreneur in addition to my theatrical career.
In 2017, I created my blog, Actor Aesthetic, as a requirement for a college course I was taking. I enjoyed creating it so much that I went above and beyond by building something I could continue after I graduated. I am proud to say that Actor Aesthetic is now a successful actor lifestyle blog, podcast and online learning community designed to educate artists pursuing a career in the theatre industry.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I’ll never forget the first time I saw my performance career and my entrepreneurship come together before my eyes. I walked into an audition holding room in NYC for a Broadway show, put down my things, and noticed a few eyes were staring at me from across the room. I looked up, and 3 fellow actresses walked over to me and said, “are you Actor Aesthetic? We’re listening to your latest podcast literally right now!” I died of laughter.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Unfortunately because of COVID-19, the theatre industry is shut down for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, I’ve focused most of my energy to growing my business, Actor Aesthetic.
I just finished successfully launching my fourth online course, The Essential Guide to Instagram For Actors. This is the only digital course for actors that gives authentic, up-to-date advice on mastering Instagram! Learn how to define your brand, create valuable content, and increase engagement and build a loyal following on Instagram.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I was HONORED to have had the opportunity to work with Tony-award winning actor, Terrence Mann, in two different productions at Connecticut Repertory Theatre. Terrence is best known for his work as Javert in the original Broadway cast of Les Miserables, Cats, and Beauty and the Beast. In 2015, I was cast in Peter Pan as Wendy (opposite Terrence as Captain Hook), and in Les Miserables, where Terrence acted as director and reprised his role as Javert. It was truly a dream come true working with him and watching from the wings as he performed “Stars” every night. CHILLS!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
As a performer, it’s so important not to take yourself too seriously. All too often, we’re judged on our appearance, our technique, and our interpretations of a character. But one thing I’ve learned in this business is that nothing is ever personal. Worrying about the unknown is exhausting. We must focus on what we CAN control… and leave the rest to show business!
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
If you have an idea, go for it and don’t look back. If I waited to launch my podcast, my courses, and even my coaching business until I deemed I had enough experience, nothing would have seen the light of day! The only way to beat imposter syndrome is by hitting publish.
Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.
My number one self-care routine is walking. When the pandemic hit, I got myself a Fitbit and have been striving towards 10,000 steps a day. I now rely on daily walks and calming music to clear my mind. That’s been an absolute lifesaver in quarantine.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Nothing in this business is personal. I’ve gotten a whole lot better at taking rejection with pride, but I wish I would’ve known this from the get-go. Whether you’re a performer or starting your own business, you must develop a thick skin.
2. Stop getting in your own way. Theatre is so subjective — and everyone will always have their own opinion. But if you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you may be missing out on your true potential.
3. Comparison is the thief of joy. You will never, I repeat NEVER, be happy if you continue comparing yourself to your peers’ successes. Every actor is on their own journey… you just have to work hard, stay focused, and good things will come.
4. You must redefine how to draw your self-worth. When pursuing acting as a career, dry spells in work aren’t just possible or probable; they’re inevitable. Every actor has experienced them. But If you’re basing your self-esteem entirely on how well your career is going, you’re in for a very bumpy ride. You are not your work. Separate yourself from the parts of your career that are out of your hands.
5. Surrounding yourself with people who have the same mindset as you; driven, hardworking and with a healthy outlook on life, can have a great impact on your work ethic.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
When one door closes, another one always opens. My parents have been telling me this since I was in grade school and it has proven to be true ever since. Just before the pandemic hit, I was living in the heart of New York City, auditioning for major Broadway productions, and things were looking up. But once the theatre industry starting shutting down, I was afraid for my mental, emotional, and financial well-being. Thankfully, I’ve been able to use this time to temporarily pivot and expand my business more than I could’ve ever imagined!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I certainly have to give all the credit in the world to my training at Paper Mill Playhouse. The Paper Mill Playhouse Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory is a program of rigorous study allowing students to enhance their individual performance potential while developing a broad base of theater experience and knowledge. Conservatory alumni include Anne Hathaway, Laura Benanti, Rob McClure, Ali Stroker, Nikki M. James and more.
I have, and always will, attribute the reason why I’ve pursued a professional career in the theatre industry solely to Paper Mill Playhouse. The education I received was truly one of a kind — and something I looked forward to every single summer (from the time I was 11 to 18 years old.)
I can also say the same of my training program at Texas State University. I have so gratitude for Kaitlin Hopkins, head of the Musical Theatre program, and the rest of the faculty for providing a safe environment to grow and for giving me the tools and support to succeed in the industry.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I certainly wouldn’t be the first to start this movement, as we already have some incredible activists battling inequity in the theatre and making their ideas known. However, I do strongly believe that the entertainment industry needs to be providing equal opportunities for people of all backgrounds. We need to foster more diversity both on-stage and off — actors, directors, choreographers, musical directors, producers, stage managers, costumers, lighting designers, set designers, stagehands, composers, lyricists, playwrights, etc. Every artist deserves to be seen and heard.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Gosh — I love Mean Girls more than anything (both the classic 2004 movie and recent Broadway show). Tina Fey — talk about a true renaissance woman — are you listening? Let’s chat!
How can our readers follow you online?
To follow my acting career, you can find me at @maggiebera and www.maggiebera.com. To find Actor Aesthetic, visit www.actoraesthetic.com, and follow @actoraesthetic on Instagram. If you’re a performer or creative, please join our Facebook Group, the Actor Aesthetic Alliance.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!