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Karen Gillen advises actors and directors to keep going even if their early work is "unwatchable"

The Guardians of the Galaxy actor has some invaluable guidance for those starting out

Photograph of Karen Gillen
Image credit: ReedPop

The Guardians of the Galaxy's Karen Gillen is an accomplished actor, writer, and director, and she has some advice for the next generation of creators who are just starting out in their careers.

During a Q&A at GalaxyCon Raleigh 2023, several fans asked Gillen about any advice she might have to offer prospective creatives. Gillen advised aspiring directors to take advantage of social media to put their work out into the world. "In this day and age, what's really great is we are able to broadcast things that we make," said Gillen. "Be self-generating in any way that you can. Film things, make things constantly."

Gillen also advocated for being persistent, even when you're not happy with your work. "I know the first thing I made was unwatchable, but don't be put off by that; just keep going and you will get better."

When it comes to acting advice, Gillen suggested filming one's performance. Gillen explained that it can be easy to forget how much the camera picks up "everything you're thinking," and that "you kind of need to trust that." When she forgets the camera can "see into her mind," Gillen shared that she can tend to overact. Instead, she strives toward feeling the emotion and allowing the camera to capture the performance.

One other theme kept coming up throughout Gillen's Q&A, and that was the invaluable support she recieved from adults when she was young. Gillen cites her parents as being one of her biggest influences, thanks to their having been supportive of her goals. "I'm really grateful that they didn't have any doubts, because it meant I didn't have any doubts that it was possible."

But it wasn't just her parents who supported her. When asked about her favorite teacher growing up, Gillen didn't hesitate to answer that it was her English teacher, who was "so supportive of [her] going into acting." The teacher even recommended her for a local acting class (to which she was nevertheless denied admission). "I think if you want something enough, you'll find a way in," Gillen said, emphasizing the importance of perseverance once again.

For more on Gillen's latest trip to space, check out our review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

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About the Author
Avery Kaplan avatar

Avery Kaplan

Contributing writer

Avery lives and writes in Southern California. She is the co-author of Double Challenge: Being LGBTQ and a Minority with her spouse, Rebecca Oliver Kaplan. Avery is Features Editor at Comics Beat, and you can also find her writing on StarTrek.com, The Gutter Review, Geek Girl Authority, and in the margins of the books in her personal library.

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