Thanks for listening to another episode of It Ain’t Weak to Speak with Sam Webb. Please rate the podcast and leave a review if you enjoyed it.
Behind the glamour and excitement of the entertainment industry, there is an alarming dark place where many creative people find themselves. Research shows that within the industry, anxiety symptoms are 10 times higher, depression 5 times higher and suicide rates are double the national average. International actor, film maker and mental health advocate, Ben Steel joins me today to discuss his own journey with mental health and the challenges that many creatives like him are facing.
Best known for his role as Jude Lawson in the Australian soap opera, Home and Away, Ben started his acting career at the early age of 6, finding his voice on stage and feeling very much at home within the creative world. In this episode, Ben shares about how being fired from Home and Away was the catalyst for his mental health decline and how it took 15 years to be exposed because of how he suppressed his feelings. He talks about the importance of facing things head on, reaching out for help and having a community of support around you.
Aware of his own struggles with anxiety and depression, Ben went on a soul searching investigation into the mental health crisis within the Australian entertainment industry, creating his debut documentary film called “The Show Must Go On”. In this episode, Ben talks about how the film saved his life and how interviewing so many others with similar struggles helped him find the support and tools he needed to keep going.
Sam and Ben discuss the audition process and how they deal with the constant rejection that goes hand in hand with being an actor. They talk about the pressure put on creative people and how it’s so easy to take things personally and Ben shares what he has learned about how to deal with his emotions and feelings as they come up. For anyone interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, this episode is a must listen for you.
TOPICS WE COVER AND WHERE TO FIND THEM:
[3:05]: How Ben started acting at age 6 but has been unpacking a lot in recent times regarding mental health struggles and identity
[4:23]: How acting was natural and fun for Ben and he felt at home in a creative tribe
[6:00]: As his acting continued, Ben discovered the emotional and psychological exploration and growth involved in acting
[6:53]: How empathy is important for an actor to portray different characters but can also contribute to mental health struggles
[8:00]: How it’s not surprising that a lot of people in the entertainment industry turn to alcohol and drugs to suppress the feelings
[8:50]: When Ben landed his role on Home and Away and how it was an opportunity he had to weigh up because he was also interested in directing
[10:25]: How it hit hard when Ben was fired from Home and Away and was the catalyst of his mental health decline, which took 15 years to explode
[11:37]: How Ben has had to learn to be present with what is going on and not suppress what he is feeling and that he struggles have been a slow decline over his whole life
[13:19]: How we’re not taught how to deal with our emotional and psychological world until it’s often too late
[14:40]: When you’re in a dark place, it can become your new normal and feel so hard to believe that things will get better but there is help available.
[16:00]: How everyone’s journey is different and that the mental health crisis is linked to a lack of community
[17:50]: How rejection is something you have to get used to in the creative industry and you have to be aware of how personally you take things and be in control of your response
[19:00]: Managing your expectations for auditions and how that links to being able to handle rejection
[21:45]: Sam shares how he separates himself as an actor and a human when auditioning, not investing his self worth
[23:00]: How not denying how you’re feeling is where the growth happens. Once we are aware of our feelings and why they are there, we can choose to respond in a way that serves us.
[25:00]: Ben talks about his documentary and how he started interviewing people about their mental health, which helped him learn how other people work through the challenges
[27:00]: How Ben’s life was saved through making the film, discovering support and facing the things that he hadn’t faced
[28:05]: How transitioning to a healthy mindset is uncomfortable and scary because it doesn’t feel normal
[30:00]: You have to face the fear head on and not be afraid to reach out. Keep taking baby steps in the right direction.
[32:00]: How Ben’s film connected with people because it unveiled the human issue of mental health struggles
[33:20]: How creatives are facing many challenges all at once which accumulates to more vulnerability
LINKS WE MENTIONED:
The Show Must Go On: https://www.theshowmustgoon.com.au/
Ben’s Instagram: @iambensteel
Thanks for listening to another episode of It Ain’t Weak to Speak with Sam Webb. Please rate the show and leave a review if you enjoyed it.
If after listening to this episode and you don't quite feel right or you want to reach out to someone to speak to, we have provided some useful resources below.
For immediate support please call one of the following 24/7 hotlines. Someone will be ready to take your call. Remember, ‘It Ain’t Weak to Speak’
If you are in Australia:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
+6Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
If you are in the United States:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text LIVIN to 741741 in the United States
If you would prefer to speak with someone face-to-face, we recommend visiting your local GP (doctor) who will be able to have a chat with you about what is going on in your life and refer you to a mental health professional if required.
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