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Secret Agent Man

A Fresh Start

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A Fresh Start
Now that 2010 has finally arrived, I'm sure you're eager to make some positive changes in your life, the kind of changes that will help move your acting career forward. That's smart thinking, but what's your first step? How exactly are you going to jump-start your career? Vague resolutions aren't going to work. Drunken promises won't help. The only way to do it is to shift your way of thinking, so you can view your future in a brand-new light. And that means embracing the concept of change.

Most people are afraid of the C-word, but change is the most natural thing in the world. Change keeps us sharp. It forces us to be present. But here's what you need to understand: Change for the sake of change is bad. Focused change with a purpose is good. So let's take a closer look at your career and see where some focused changes might serve you well.

Let's start with your acting class. How long have you been with the same teacher? If the answer is longer than a year, then you need to make a change. After that much time, the class has become a safe place. You probably know everyone and can predict what's going to happen. That's not good. I want you to feel challenged. So start auditing new teachers. Go find a class that scares you.

When was the last time you performed in front of a paying audience? If it's been longer than six months, then you need to get on stage pronto. The only way to grow as an actor is by acting. So go audition for a play, join a theater company, put on your own show, try out for a comedy group—whatever it takes. Just get up there and push yourself. You don't gain anything by sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring.

Next, I'd like you to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Are you comfortable with your appearance? Are you an ingénue who needs to lose a few pounds? Are you a leading man who could use some more muscle? Your look is supposed to serve your career, and if that's not happening, you need to make some changes. Doing so will not only make you more marketable; it will also increase your confidence level. And that's a good thing, especially when you walk into an audition.

Now we're going to go a little bit deeper. When people ask what you do, do you mumble "actor" under your breath? If that's the case, you need to rediscover the passion you had when you first started down this difficult road. This is a fundamental shift in thinking that could make all the difference in your career. I realize this business can grind you down, but you can't allow negativity to take over your life. Remember, if you believe in yourself, others might too.

I recently came across an old instruction manual titled "Tech Support for Etch A Sketch." Here are some of the questions and answers I found there:

Q: My Etch A Sketch has funny lines all over the screen. How do I get rid of them?

A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q:How do I erase what I've drawn on my Etch A Sketch?

A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I turn off my Etch A Sketch?

A: Pick it up and shake it.

I'm sharing this with you because that manual provides all the advice you need to get the new year off to a great start. So if you're wondering how to get your acting career back on track, my answer is simple: Pick it up and shake it!

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