What You Love is Killing You: Stopping Hustle Culture in the Performing Arts




Absher, Emily

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This thesis synthesizes existing studies of burnout in current corporate work culture for the purpose of drawing parallels to the actor-artist passion profession. Burnout is defined as a condition in which one has depleted her or his mental and physical resources by striving to reach unrealistic expectations imposed by oneself or society. Through a literature review of “workism”--the worship of one’s work--and “hustle culture” combined with ethnographic research in the form of anecdotal evidence acquired through audio recording of four populations: current undergraduate actors, newly graduated actors, mid-career actors, and actor-artists turned academics, it can be concluded that actor-artists experience burnout on a level equal to, if not greater than, nine-to-five professionals. Nevertheless, a solution confronting the root of the burnout issue is necessary for all professions, passionate and otherwise. This initial research suggests it is possible--once it is understood how workism in the performing arts creates vulnerability to burnout--to create a more mindful culture as a new default in opposition to hustle culture.



burnout, actors, artists, mindfulness, work, workism, passion profession, hustle culture, fatigue


Absher, E. (2020). What you love is killing you: Stopping hustle culture in the performing arts (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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