You have just been offered two roles in two different productions, and due to scheduling, you can only accept one. OK, sometimes the answer will be easy. The prestige factor, along with the size of the role and/or the paycheck, may align in such a way that there will be no conflict in the decision making. The more successful an actor becomes and the more in demand they are, the more heavily various factors involved will influence which offer to take.
At the highest levels of our industry, the success or failure of the outcome of an actor’s decisions may dictate the fate of that actor’s career for a very long time. Yet no matter how much one scrutinizes the potential for the success or failure of an upcoming project, the outcome remains unknowable. It all goes with the territory of creativity and is part of the fun—and the fear—of being an artist. In the future, I’ll do an analysis of how to choose a project in film and television world, but for now, let’s imagine you are offered roles in two different stage productions and you must make a decision between the two.
Here is what to do. Go to your computer and set up two columns on one page. In each column place the following:
1. The geographical location of the theater.
2. The length of time of the commitment.
3. The name of the theater.
4. The name of the show.
5. The name of the character.
6. The name of the director.
7. The salary offered.
Now, let’s examine these elements. The geographical location and the time commitment, for example, may have sheer personal appeal for you. (From where I sit in New York City, a gig at the Gable Stage in Coral Gables, Florida during January and February sounds wonderful.) However, that’s also pilot season, and many agents will allow a client to accept an out-of-town job only if the distance involved will let the actor commute to the city for important television auditions. In any case, continue down the list and make your selections based on what you deem to be the most professionally and artistically advantageous. Place an “X” next to the more appealing choice in each column. You may find yourself choosing a larger role in one play, but choosing a particular theater simply because the name of that theater will be more resume-enhancing than the larger role at the less prestigious venue, and the same goes for the director. And the salary offered will most likely be the easiest area to choose! Now look down at both your columns. Since we are dealing with an odd number of categories here, one column will have more X’s than the other. The column with the most X’s is the job you will be most likely to choose.
Brian O’Neil is an acting career coach, consultant, and audition coach. A former agent and personal manager, O’Neil is also the best-selling author of “Acting As a Business: Strategies for Success,” which is now in its twenty-ninth printing. In the recent past, his students and clients have won Emmys and a Golden Globe (“The Big Bang Theory”), a Tony Award ("Matilda"), been Emmy-nominated ("Girls"), been cast as series regulars ("Orange is the New Black," "The Walking Dead," “Bones”) and have appeared in starring roles in feature films (The Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis”). Although he lives in New York City, Brian teaches at virtually every advanced actor training program in the country, including The Juilliard School. For more information about Brian, please visit http://www.actingasabusiness.com.