It was a major golf tournament, but even Rory McIlroy, who was in first place, paused. He grimaced.
He heard the crowd roar when Tiger Woods did the impossible—drive a ball so far that it landed on the green in one shot, instead of the typical three strokes. This meant that if he could put the ball in the hole in one putt, he had an “eagle." And that means he jumped up to second place and dropped three points under par.
If you can play the game with the most points under par, you win. Tiger broke his own record—62 points (strokes) for the total game, which was that’s 10 points under par.
Par is expected. Par is what the average guy wants to achieve. For an actor, par would translate to getting some acting work and getting paid. Being good enough to be cast. Par is for the hardworking achiever who is just good, not great.
Under par is for the exceptional. In acting, you don’t have the option of being in second, third, or fourth place. You have to be number one or you lose the role!
So, back to the tournament. The guys in third and fourth place panicked. They both fumbled under pressure. When they heard the crowd roar at Tiger’s eagle on the seventeenth hole, they screwed up. Their hands shook. They rushed. Shots went into the sand trap. Shots landed in the water and off the green into the rough. Nerves made them change their game, and they lost.
And that can happen to you as an actor—during the callback, the screen test, the final interview with the creator/writer/star who has the power to hire you. Changing your game might lose you the role.
So what should you do? Focus on the game?
In this golf tournament, the real hero wasn’t really Tiger. He had shown his stuff years before—great shots, endurance, skill, and talent. He played his own game—the one he perfected with years of practice. The real hero was the guy nobody paid any attention to. He was playing his own game. The guy in fifth place. Gilliss, was quiet, unassuming, not a champion, and not equal in reputation or experience to Tiger or McIlroy. He was just a calm, consistent guy. He heard the roar and smiled. Big deal. He kept playing, didn’t get rattled, and didn’t change his game. He persisted. Roar or no roar, he focused on his strokes—not thinking about winning, the money, the trophy, or the prestige. He just played for the fun of it, and he won! The two guys ahead of him crumbled in the final stretch so he was bumped up to second place. He tied with Tiger Woods. That’s a once in a lifetime event right there!
The second place cup was for $600,000. Gilliss shared the cup with Tiger—not bad for an unknown, my cousin, and a winner! Yay, Gilliss! Yay, team!
So, as an actor, here are the winning strategies you need to employ.
2. Be consistent. Focus on your choices.
3. Be yourself.
4. Smile, laugh, no nerves, no change of behavior—especially when you hear the crowd “roar” at another’s successful drive. Smile and keep going.
5. Keep playing your own game.
6. Play for the fun of it—not for the golden trophy, the money, or the status!
7. Be aware of the forces of nature—the economy, the change of script, the new director, hostile network executives, etc.
8. Be open and flexible. Adjust your approach, and your stroke to suit the circumstances.
9. Follow the patterns that work for you.
The winning spot doesn’t always go to the already established. You may prevail instead so don’t get rattled! Just keep playing your best game!
As the founder and executive director of The Actors's Market, Gwyn Gilliss provides free monthly info seminars, agent/casting director interview tele-seminars, weekly marketing tips, as well as many coaching programs to help actors break into both the NY and L.A. industries. Gwyn has tremendous success with her private career coaching clients. More than 90 percent get agent representation launching their careers with performances in feature films, Broadway productions, and Emmy-award-winning primetime TV series, such as "The Good Wife," "White Collar," "Grey's Anatomy," "NCIS," "House," "Law & Order," "30 Rock," "Criminal Minds."
Email her to request a free 15-minute career session: firstname.lastname@example.org.