Taking ownership of your journey is the first step, but it requires more work than you might imagine. Many actors start and end their planning with a simple “I want to make a living as an actor.” A lofty goal, to be sure (see “Acting Is About Art, Not Money”), but far too vague.
Instead, isolate one specific goal, such as “I want to work in regional theater.” Now you can begin your research: Where do most regional theater companies hold auditions? Should you go Equity right away or after building credits? What kind of career longevity can successful regional theater actors expect? What types of classes will best prepare you for those gigs? Which representatives are best equipped to handle your career? And so on.
Add another goal or two into the mix, and your plans may be hopelessly muddled. Don’t believe me? Let’s try it: “I want to work in regional theater, do feature films, and be in Blue Man Group.” Is the city where most regional companies audition the same as the place where most films cast? (No.) Do the classes you need before your Blue Man audition line up with those to prep you for your feature film auditions? (No.) Does the agent who wants to rep you for film want to bother with theater? (Sometimes.) Diluting your goal into multiple areas quickly spreads you too thin.
That doesn’t mean your career can’t flow and vary, only that you can make the most progress when you are focusing on one thing at a time. Sure, you’ll be open to other opportunities, but you’ll have an informed path to follow instead of drowning in a sea of questions.
Next week: But what if I change my mind?
Jackie Apodaca is an associate professor and the head of performance at Southern Oregon University.