This past year saw a massive shot of new content and in turn, was the busiest year ever for actors. While we can’t predict what 2019 will bring, we can look back at the last 12 months to determine where we were challenged and caught off guard, and how to use these moments constructively to better prepare for what’s to come, whatever it may be.
Here’s a recap of what this year taught us and what we need to know to have the best booking year ever in 2019.
It’s not enough to be good—you must be great. If you’re regularly going out for major film and TV roles, you’re competing at the Olympic-level of the industry. So if you’re truly trying to a build a career in this industry, you must be great. If you’re willing to go into the room with less-than-stellar performances, maybe you don’t really love acting. Take stock of what’s preventing you from devoting yourself to being the best actor possible.
There are no rules.
When you’re great, there are no rules for proper etiquette. Actors shackle each other with fear-based advice that only puts obstacles in your path and screws with your head. Stop trying to model your path to success after someone else’s—yours will look very different.
Everyone is scared.
Not just actors. The jobs of producers, directors, writers, and casting directors are on the line at all times. Take all hostilities with a grain of salt and take nothing personally. The casting director is trying to please the producer or agency. The director is trying to impress everyone and show great directorial skills. The producers are trying to please the network, studio, or investors.
At the end of the day, show business is a lifestyle with money on the line and accompanying panic. If someone barks at you, demeans you, mocks or dismisses you, just know that it is coming from a weak, fear-based place and view them with compassion while retaking your power back.
That said, if you feel like this kind of behavior veers into territory that’s abusive, you should absolutely speak up for yourself and take whatever actions necessary to make yourself feel safe.
Let go of outcomes.
A preoccupation with outcomes is toxic, especially for actors. With regards to the craft and your career, you must let go of your attachment to how you think something is supposed to go.
The life of an actor is one big metaphorical road trip. The auditions are all the sights along the way. Appreciate and value them for what they can teach you. Use them as opportunities to build connections in the room and impress your peers to the extent that your name and face are always at the top of someone’s mental shortlist for a prospective role.
It doesn’t get easier, you just get braver.
No matter how successful you are, sustained success in this industry is directly proportional to your work ethic and ability to do the best acting you’re capable of and your willingness to take yourself out of your comfort zone. Some actors I meet are great at winning over the room when they walk in but fall short with their performance. Some deliver perfect auditions but stumble during the small-talk part of the audition, coming across as aloof or resigned. Others are great at networking and building powerful friendships in the industry, but they can’t focus on preparing a solid audition despite their enormous talent.
Few people have all the tools they need to succeed. Investing in your personal development is part of the job. The parts you need to develop will force you to do scary stuff, so know that your success depends on being brave.
Laziness + ego = career cyanide.
Successful actors work like dogs. Sure, the work can and should be fun, but many actors simply don’t have the stomach for what it takes to make it. They aren’t willing to constantly work on their craft, seek out next-level training, and they typically scorn auditions for smaller projects because they think they’re too good for such things.
Relationships are key.
While it’s important to form good relationships with CDs directors, they don’t actually cast the bulk of the roles. That’s the job of production teams, with the majority of major roles cast directly cast by producers, networks, showrunners, and writers before they ever get to a casting office.
So while it behooves you form warm relationships with CD offices, production offices, producers, showrunners, and writers should be the center of your focus when it comes to relationship building. There’s a right way to meet and stay in touch with them, updating them on your career path when appropriate.
Very few people I work with are doing everything they can to inch their career forward. Let’s all agree to meet the new year with a renewed spirit of bravery and a commitment to proactive effort. We can all meet the challenges of this industry, along with the ones inherent in ourselves, head-on and with vigor.