At this point in my career, I have come to the conclusion that if talent is a given, any actor can succeed if the right components are in place.
Yes, that’s a ballsy claim, but let’s break it down. First and foremost, the actor in question must be legitimately talented. Mediocrity will not work; we need genuine ability. And second, let’s define the word “succeed” as getting to the point where you’re a working actor and performing is your primary source of income. “Succeed” does not mean becoming rich and famous with a mantel covered in gold statues. That level of fame is a totally different breed.
Now that we’ve defined it, let’s repeat the claim: Any talented actor can succeed if the right components are in place. Hell, I’ll be even clearer. All you really need are five things. Not four. Not six. Five. Your own personal fist of success.
Here are the five fingers:
1) You need one agent who genuinely believes in you.
If the company you’re with has four, you don’t need all of them to be crazy about you. It helps, but it’s not necessary. All you need is one passionate agent who is willing to kick open doors and knock down walls for you. I’m talking the Terminator of reps. The kind of agent who will not stop, who cannot be stopped, ever, until you are where you’re supposed to be.
2) You need one manager who understands the big picture.
To be clear, I’m not talking about a worthless lump of coal who sits around waiting for someone like me to do all the work. I’m talking about a manager who has the background and knowledge to advise you on all aspects of your career, someone who can set long-term goals and then help you work toward them. Agents often get caught up in the moment, but a truly skilled manager will always have your entire timeline in mind.
3) You need five casting directors who are fans.
They need to be spread out over film and television. And I’m talking mainstream, not fringe. If you have five genuine casting fans who consistently bring you in for auditions, your success is almost guaranteed.
4) You need one acting coach who understands you.
And I don’t mean your scene study teacher, I mean a coach who works with you one-on-one before big auditions. This person has to understand the best way to guide you to your best performance. That requires intimacy, and intimacy takes time. So find a coach you respect and makes you feel safe and then hold on to that person for as long as possible.
5) And, last but certainly not least, you need one mentor.
It should be someone who’s an established and successful part of the entertainment industry on either the creative or business side. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have someone like this in your life as a source of information and guidance, especially when the pressures of your career start to build.
“It takes a village” is one of those trite expressions that’s been overused, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. So start building your village. Success is closer than you think.