Teaches Theatre Professionals Resiliency to Avoid Burnout


Actor training programs frequently focus on performance skills, but not the underlying mental attitudes that can sustain healthy and long-lasting careers in theatre, film, and television. This summer, Actor for Life: How to Have An Amazing Career Without All the Drama by acting professor Connie de Veer and master coach and teacher Jan Elfline offers fresh, accessible insights and exercises for actors to create lives that support their acting work.

After seeing far too many actors burn out after only a few years of acting experience, de Veer realized the sheer exhaustion facing her former students was something that had to be addressed. Their talent and learned technique was not enough for the stage to be truly made theirs—they needed a new way of thinking that would allow them to handle the rejection, the grueling hours, and other aspects of acting outside of the pure craft.

Instead of providing lessons on acting technique or know-how on the business of “the biz,” Actor for Life spreads the positive philosophy that how we think is a powerful engine that either supports or undermines an actor’s success. Emphasizing the need to nourish the mental and emotional needs of actors, de Veer and Elfline teach readers how to develop resilience, motivation, and courage.

Working actors, acting teachers, students of acting, workshop leaders, and even non-actors can appreciate the clear tutelage and practical advice of this book. “All the world’s a stage,” after all.

“de Veer and Elfline offer good advice for real actors and people in all creative arts.” —Blake Hammond, Broadway Actor

“This is a welcomed addition to any bookshelf for a budding young professional in the creative arts.” —Scott Lafeber, Professor, Head of Musical Theatre, Emerson College

“I absolutely loved it. This will have a permanent place on my bedside table.” —Ronald Román, MFA, Actor, American Shakespeare Center


About the Book:

Actor for Life: How to Have An Amazing Career Without All the Drama
Connie DeVeer and Jan Elfline | June 2018 | Smith & Kraus | Format ISBN TBD: | Price: TBD
Non-fiction, Self Help

Find inspiring interviews with these ten award-winning:

  • professionals:Deborah Barylski (casting director, Arrested Development)
  • Duane Boutté (Brother to Brother)
  • Gary Cole (Veep)
  • Suzzanne Douglas (The Parent Hood)
  • Sean Hayes (Will & Grace)
  • Judith Ivey (Devil’s Advocate)
  • Paul Kampf (Paul Kampf Studios)
  • Linda Lowy (casting director, Friday Night Lights, Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Julia Murney (Wicked)
  • Jeff Perry (Scandal)

Connie de Veer, M.F.A., is a Professor of Acting at Illinois State University, where she regularly directs and serves as the voice, text, and dialect coach for School of Theatre and Dance productions. Connie has developed a unique and varied skill-set, driven by her love of people and their growth. de Veer is certified as a teacher of the Alexander Technique, and is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach. She received a Robert R. McCormick Foundation award to integrate civic engagement into theatre and theatre training., as well as a Coleman Foundation Faculty Entrepreneurship Fellowship. Her mission is to empower others to create opportunities to share their voices with the world. Visit for more.

Jan Elfline’s interests are at an improbable intersection: engineering, art, and human behavior. Her doctoral research, funded by the J Paul Getty Trust, focused on how to cultivate creativity and innovation. Elfline taught studio art at the university level for over a decade, then in 1993 she left academia to open a training business. She takes what she knows about the creative process into boardrooms, research laboratories, and onto the floors of manufacturing facilities. Find out more at


An Interview with Connie De Veer

Why did you write Actor for Life?
When I talk with former students, 1 – 5 years after graduation, it’s apparent to me how discouraged and exhausted they feel. Most drop out of the business; many lose steam; and the vast majority feel like failures. I realized that I’m a coach, my good friend Jan is a coach… and we can help them!

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
That self-agency is a learnable skill. That they can learn to be the “captains of their own careers,” as casting director Deborah Barylski says. Actors need not be helpless victims, waiting for someone else to give them a job, letting others define success for them and their chances of achieving it. It can be a joyous journey, and one that they create.

What do you see as the biggest obstacles actors face in their career, and how do you address that in the book?
Self-limiting beliefs. It all begins in our minds. We offer clear, even fun, strategies to re-craft readers’ habitual thoughts into ones that are energizing and yield productive results.

What are the top emotional qualities you think can indicate success an actor?
The actors we interviewed for the book share several qualities, including courage, persistence, and a love for what they do. They experience rejection, but they don’t stay stuck. They have gratitude for their gifts and the community with whom they get to share their gifts. And they think of themselves as servants, in service of telling the stories of the human condition with truth and commitment.

How can your philosophies help even non-actors?
As we say in the book, if you show up to your job, present yourself, put yourself “out there” into the world, you’re acting. You’re taking action for what you want and what you believe in. Actors just do that usually in a more public arena. It takes courage, authenticity, and vision for all of us —butchers, bakers, candlestick makers—to be actors for life. The philosophies in our book help anyone who has ever grappled with self-doubt, toxic relationships, lack of motivation, or self-defeating habits.
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