All of us who have chosen acting as a career and can tell stories of frustration, fear, anxiety, triumph, success and failure. Like any career there are ups and downs and challenges we face in order to continue doing the work. I have compiled a list of things I think we should be reminded of from time to time. This, in no way, is a comprehensive list but merely my observations as an actor and also my experience as a director and agent working with actors.
1. Your value and worth shouldn’t be wrapped up in getting cast.
Of course we all audition to get cast. While that is a given, it is part of the job. It’s not an evaluation or measuring tool of your true value and worth. Sometimes we will get cast, sometimes we won’t, yes, I know, very insightful. But hear me out. Understanding the reality of a situation and actually living in the reality of a situation are vastly different choices. Our heads can understand competition, look, casting needs, etc. but when we embrace that we have chosen a career that will constantly require us to risk in order to secure work we begin to realize that this, like many things, is a task. Not a value or worth statement but merely a decision made by a few or many that ultimately takes nothing away from you if you don’t allow it to.
2. You are your own business.
One thing that we, as actors, should remember is that we are a small business. We have to invest in ourselves in different ways in order to be marketable and have more opportunities for auditions and bookings. Two of the main ways to make sure we are being seen is to have an updated headshot and resume’. This is your business card. Casting directors, producers and clients want to see the person walk through the door that they saw in the photo. Investing in yourself means that you may have to actually spend some money. If you’re not on the website of the agency or agencies that represent you it may time to make that investment. Have an actual professional headshot photographer take your photos. It’s always easier and of course cheaper to have a friend who is a photographer take your headshots but I can tell you in my years as a director and talent agent I can spot a friends headshot photo over a professional headshot 9 out 10 times. This does make a difference as clients, producers, and casting directors are looking through hundreds of photos for an individual casting.
3. Training. Training. Training.
Most careers require continuing education to keep employees fresh with new ideas and also energize them for more success. As actors there is no set requirement for on going training but there should be. You may or may not have a degree in acting, or you may have done a lot of training early on in your career. I believe you should set out every year to take at least one class or workshop to help enhance what you already know and do well. Classes and workshops are also a great place to network with others in the industry.
4. Control the things you can and let the rest go.
So much of this industry is subjective. Why you do or don’t get asked to audition, why you do or don’t get cast, age range, etc are all examples of things that you can’t always control. Here is what you can control: how you prepare for an audition, being on time, listening, being professional at auditions and bookings, communicating with your agents. When you put your energy towards the things within your control it begins to help you put the things you can’t control in proper perspective.
5. You are a professional, stop giving your talents away for free.
This one is tough sometimes because we all enjoy doing the work. There is a lot of work out there that is unpaid or underpaid. Be aware when you say yes to one thing it may mean you have to say no to something else. Ask yourself why you would work for free. Sometimes the free work will keep you from the paid work. Not every request made of you for projects is always good for your career. Your agents are great resources for you to talk to about what types of projects may keep you away from paid or better paying work. I have seen talent take a free gig or underpaid gig and then a paid gig comes along and they can’t participate because the client doesn’t want them to have been in anything in that related field for the past year or so. Remember the work today can take you out of the work tomorrow. Also your image is everything. Some talent have said to me I hope no one ever sees (fill in the blank) that I did because it was awful. Well, remember that once it’s out there it’s out there.